strategic human capital, theory, firm-specific human capital theory


The domain of strategic human capital is emerging at the intersection of strategy and strategic human resource management. Because it is still in the development phase, its core underlying assumptions have not yet solidified. This presents a unique and time-sensitive opportunity to explore and challenge these core assumptions and, specifically, to evaluate whether these assumptions mesh with the lived experiences of practicing managers. We argue that now is the time for the field to ground itself in practical phenomena so that its insights moving forward can be both academically rigorous and practically relevant. In this paper we illustrate the problems of theory for the sake of theory by systemically comparing the assumptions required in firm-specific human capital theory against the lived experiences of workers and managers. We then identify several phenomena that present new and useful opportunities to expand theory in the strategic human capital domain.

Original Publication Citation

Kryscynski, D. & Ulrich, D., 2015. Making Strategic Human Capital Relevant: A time Sensitive Opportunity. Academy of Management Perspectives. 29 (3): 357-369.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Academy of Management




Marriott School of Management


Information Systems