Document Type



The impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is unprecedented. At an organisational level, the crisis has been hugely disruptive, complex and fraught with ambiguity for leaders. The crisis is fundamentally a human one, making human resource (HR) leaders central in enabling organisations to manage through and ultimately exit the crisis successfully. We apply a paradox lens to understand the HR leadership challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis. We argue that how the HR function responds to the challenges of the crisis and its role in mapping the exit route from the crisis are likely to shape the trajectory of the function for decades to come. The pandemic creates an unprecedented opportunity to elevate the status of the HR function in organisations where it has struggled to gain status and to reinforce the influence of the function in those where it already enjoys legitimacy. The value of this is likely to be reflected in more sustainable performance through the alignment of people and purpose and balancing the short and long term objectives of the organisation.

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APA Citation

Collings, D. G., Nyberg, A. J., Wright, P. M., & McMackin, J. (2021). Leading through paradox in a covid‐19 world: Human Resources comes of age. Human Resource Management Journal, 31(4), 819–833.


© 2021 The Authors. Human Resource Management Journal published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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