Sustainable human resource management: the perspectives of Italian human resource managers

Xiaoyan Liang, Martina Taddei, Qijie Xiao*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Over the past two decades, sustainable human resource management (sustainable HRM) has emerged as a new approach to human resource management. Sustainable HRM takes a stakeholder-inclusive perspective to ensure the sustainable development of organizations along multiple objectives (financial, social, environmental, and organizational). Human resource (HR) managers are key actors in sustainable HRM implementation. However, how these important stakeholders perceive sustainable HRM remains understudied in the growing literature. This qualitative study explores how 32 HR managers in Italy construct the meaning of sustainable HRM and perceive their roles in and the barriers to implementing a sustainable HRM strategy. The findings reveal that Italian HR managers interpret sustainable HRM in line with the triple bottom line sustainability framework but give particular prominence to the social dimension. We develop a framework of HR managers’ roles in the sustainable HRM paradigm comprising sustainability strategy owners, social innovators, corporate social responsibility (CSR) partnership architects, genuine employee champions, and administrative experts. Additionally, we develop a model of the barriers to sustainable HRM adoption. This study advances the sustainable HRM literature by providing a contextualized, country-specific understanding of sustainable HRM and frameworks for the roles of HR managers under a sustainable HRM paradigm and the barriers to its adoption.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2029-2056
Number of pages28
JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • HR managers
  • Italy
  • qualitative research
  • sustainability
  • sustainable HRM


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