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Strategic human resource management (SHRM) emerged as a dominant approach to human resource management (HRM) policy during the past 30 years. However, during the last decade, a new approach to HRM has evolved. This approach has been labelled sustainable human resource management (sustainable HRM). It is an approach that seeks to link HRM and sustainability. The term sustainability is fraught with semantic difficulties, as is conceptualising its relationship to HRM. Consequently, sustainable HRM is viewed in a variety of ways. This paper examines the major features of SHRM, some of the meanings given to sustainability and the relationship between sustainability and HRM. It then outlines the major characteristics of sustainable HRM. Although there are a diversity of views about sustainable HRM, this approach has a number of features which differentiate it from SHRM. It acknowledges organisational outcomes, which are broader than financial outcomes. All the writings emphasise the importance of human and social outcomes. In addition, it explicitly identifies the negative as well as the positive effects of HRM on a variety of stakeholders; it pays further attention to the processes associated with the implementation of HRM policies and acknowledges the tensions in reconciling competing organisational requirements. Such an approach takes an explicit moral position about the desired outcomes of organisational practices in the short term and the long term. Sustainable HRM can be understood in terms of a number of complimentary frameworks.

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