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University of Exeter Business School

HR Strategy, Context and Performance

Module titleHR Strategy, Context and Performance
Module codeBEMM787
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Mr Stephen Taylor (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks




Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

The main purpose of this module is to provide you with a broad introduction to people management, the role played in organisations by the HRM and HRD functions, the management of performance in organisations and the strategic context in which contemporary HR management takes place.

Starting with an analysis of the way that approaches to the management of people have evolved over time, we go on to focus on some major contemporary issues such as motivating and engaging people, change management, effective leadership and HRM strategy. We also look in detail at the major contextual trends which are affecting the practice of HRM, including significant current developments.

Throughout we will consider the different ways in which HRM can add value for organisations and contribute to the achievement of superior business performance. In this module we are also going to introduce two important areas of HR practice, performance management and reward management. Another important objective is to familiarise you with some of the major contributions to HRM thinking that have been made by academic researchers.


The content of this module is largely based on the UK model of Human Resource Management which is highly regarded internationally. Good practice in Human Resource Management is very applicable to other contexts and internationally translatable. Numerous examples from many countries will be used to illustrate key points, while comparative and international HRM will be specifically included in the module content.


All of the notes from the lectures are made available on the ELE (Exeter Learning Environment). Issues relating to sustainable HRM are also discussed on the module.


In this module, students acquire a general understanding of human resource management. We cover issues relating to performance and reward management, before focusing on developments in the wider environment in which HRM operates and on strategic responses. The aim is to prepare students or careers as HR specialists or line managers with significant people management responsibilities. Group discussion exercises aim to help develop intellectual confidence while also providing examples of good and poor HR practice.

Module aims - intentions of the module

  • To introduce students to the context, theory and practice of human resource management generally and performance management in particular
  • To develop a critical orientation toward the subject matter and an awareness of the complexity of managing people. 

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Discuss the theoretical underpinnings of HRM and the effective management of performance;
  • 2. Apply HR theories to develop HR strategy and policy;
  • 3. Engage critically with debates about HR practice, business ethics and organisational change;
  • 4. Explain how developments in the business environment affect current and future HR practice;
  • 5. Produce appropriate professional and practical solutions to organisational problems.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. Critically evaluate concepts, theories and techniques;
  • 7. Develop effective arguments.

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 8. Work independently and be self-motivated;
  • 9. Present a persuasive argument backed up with evidence;
  • 10. Develop effective independent study skills

Syllabus plan

  • Introduction to Human Resource Management and its aims and objectives
  • Managing performance, motivation and engagement at work
  • Reward management
  • Globalisation and its implications for HRM
  • Technological developments and their implications for HRM
  • Developments in the political, regulatory and economic environments
  • Social, demographic and labour market trends  
  • Business ethics and values in the context of HRM
  • The evolution of the HR function
  • Evaluating the HR contribution
  • Approaches to HR strategy and planning
  • The HR contribution to the effective management of change
  • Organisational flexibility, agility and resilience 
  • Debates about the contribution the HR function makes to superior business performance

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled teaching and learning activities50Lectures
Scheduled teaching and learning activities25Seminars
Guided Independent Study100Pre and post session reading
Guided Independent Study125Assessment preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Presentation and seminar discussionsIn class1-10Verbal in class

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
HR Blog Exercise301500 word approx1-10Written feedback
Examination703 hours1-10Verbal feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
HR Blog ExerciseHR Blog exercise (1500 word approx)1-10Next assessment period
Examination Examination (3 hours)1-10Next examination period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Taylor, S & Perkins, G (2021) Work and Employment in a Changing Business Environment. London, Kogan Page.

Torrington, D., Taylor, S., Hall, L. and Atkinson, C. (2020) Human Resource Management. Eleventh Edition. Pearson.

Marchington M. and Wilkinson, A. (2020) Human Resource Management at Work: People Management and Development. Seventh Edition. Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Wilkinson, A. Redman, T &  Dundon T (2021)  Contemporary Human Resource Management: Text and Cases. Sixth Edition. Pearson.

Bach, S & Edwards, M (eds) (2012): Managing Human Resources. Fifth Edition. Wiley, Chichester.

Beardwell, J. and Thompson, A (2017) Human Resource Management: A Contemporary Approach. Eighth Edition. Pearson

Wilton, N. (2019) An Introduction to Human Resource Management. Fourth Edition. Sage.


Other resources:

Allen, B (2016): Practical Workforce Planning for HR Professionals. Taupo, New Zealand, Gravitas

Armstrong, M. and Murlis, H. (2007) Reward Management: A handbook of remuneration strategy and practice. London: Kogan Page.

Buchanan, DA & Badham, R (2008): Power, Politics and Organizational Change: Winning the Turf Game. Second Edition. Sage.

Buckingham, M & Goodall, A (2015) 'Reinventing performance management'. Harvard Business Review, April.

Dicken, P (2015) Global shift: Managing the Changing Contours of the World Economy. London, Sage. Seventh Edition.

Druker, J & White, G (2009): 'Introduction' in G White & J Druker (eds): Reward Management: A Critical Text. Second Edition. London, Routledge.

Huselid, M (1995): 'The impact of human resource management practices on turnover, productivity and corporate financial performance'. Academy of Management Journal 38.3, p 635-72.

Latham, G (2012): Work Motivation: History, Theory, Research and Practice. London, Sage.

Kotter, J (1996): Leading Change. Boston, Massachusetts, Harvard Business School Press.

Macleod D & Clarke N (2009): Engaging for Success: Enhancing performance through employee engagement. A Report to Government. London, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

Morrison, J (2020): The Global Business Environment: Towards sustainability? Fifth Edition. London, Bloomsbury.

Neugebauer, J (2013): 'Integrating learning and performance' in S Hutchinson (ed): Performance management: Theory and Practice. London, CIPD.

Pfeffer, J (1994): Competitive Advantage Through People. Harvard Business School Press.

Purcell J, Kinnie N, Hutchinson S, Rayton B & Swart J (2003): Understanding the People and Performance Link: Unlocking the black box. London, CIPD.

Wanous, J P (1992) Organizational Entry. Reading, Massachusetts. Addison Wesley.

Wetherly, P & Otter, D (eds): The Business Environment: Themes and Issues in a Globalising World. Oxford, Oxford University Press. Fourth Edition, 2018.

Witzel, M (2012): A History of Management Thought. Routledge.

Wren DA & Bedeian AG (2009): The Evolution of Management Thought. Sixth Edition. Wiley.

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

Useful journals include:

Academy of Management Journal              Academy of Management Review

British Journal of Industrial Relations           Employee Relations

Harvard Business Review                            Human Resource Management, the journal

Human Resource Management Journal      Human Resource Planning                 

Journal of General Management                 Journal of Management Development            

Journal of Management Studies                  Personnel Review                                

People Management                                   Management Education and Development

Key words search

Human resource management, business environment, HRM

Credit value30
Module ECTS


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