Case study – Starbuck’s Human Resource Department in Relation to the Concept of Strategic Human Resource Management

Executive Summary

Strategic human resource management enables the alignment of HR strategy with corporate strategy thus enhancing the achievement of business objectives. This paper assesses the organisation of the HR department in Starbucks and evaluates whether the department is aligned to the business strategy.

Starbucks HR department is hierarchical with the overall head leading three managers responsible for management of personnel in three regions in which the entity conducts business. The HR head reports directly to the CEO. The department plays both administrative and strategic roles. Administrative roles include staffing, preparation of employees’ compensation and ensuring adherence to labour laws. Strategic roles include succession planning, and training and development of staff.

The entity’s HR strategy is also aligned to business strategy as evident by policies that improve employee experience in an aim to achieve measured growth and sustain high quality customer service. The strategic alignment is also evident with the inclusion of the HR head in the organisations’ senior leadership team. A weakness in Starbucks HRM however lies with the lack of effective coordination among HR departments operating in various locations; this presents adjustment challenges for employees who transfer from one location to another. Accordingly, this paper recommends that the entity needs to establish a team to coordinate HR training in different regions to reduce the challenges of adjustment following personnel transfers within the organisation.


The dynamic nature of business environment has necessitated organizations to develop resources that enable them to remain competitive for survival. In the modern era of increasing globalization and technological advancements, factors that provided organizations with a competitive advantage are being eroded as more entities adopt technology in their operations. To manage such a dynamic environment, the resource-based perspective holds that an organisation must develop the resources it controls on a continuous basis to ensure that such resources become a source of competitive advantage for the entity (Andersen 2010). Accordingly, strategic human resource management (SHRM) has been advanced as one of the ways through which an entity can develop its human resource (HR) to provide an advantage that proves challenging for competitors to imitate (Kim & Gray 2005).

According to SHRM, the human resource strategy should be aligned to the business strategy to enhance the achievement of the organization’s objectives. Although traditionally the HR department was restricted to administrative functions such as payroll processing, the realization of the importance of human resource in achieving the entity’s goals has led to the department playing a strategic role such as being a change agent (Lawler 1995; Beer 1997; Haines & Lafleur 2008). This essay evaluates the role that HR department at Starbucks plays to determine whether it supports the concepts envisaged in SHRM. To meet this purpose, the paper first presents a brief overview of the entity, then highlights the organisation and functions that the HR department plays in the entity. Subsequently, the paper assesses whether Starbucks’ HR and business strategies are aligned as envisaged under SHRM. In the conclusion, recommendations on how the HR department can meet its goals better are presented following a highlight of the core aspects identified in the paper. Go to part two here.

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