The strategic and cultural legitimacy of HR professionalization in Hong Kong

Paul HIGGINS, Man Fung LO

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review


In Hong Kong, human resources (HR) practice has reached a point of professionalization not yet apparent in other parts of China creating opportunities for best practice diffusion across rapidly developing cities, provinces, and regions. The aim of this paper is to ascertain the strategic and cultural legitimacy of human resource management (HRM) in Hong Kong from the perspective of the occupation’s status as an emerging profession. Combining established theory on professions with documented insights from normative associational ideals, this paper derives four major sources of HR professionalization, which it entitles strategy, communication, administration, and discipline. Assuming that tasks performed by the most senior, qualified and experienced practitioners hold greatest empirical sway over the prospect of occupational association, this study finds that a combination of strategic and communication practices emerge as the two most likely routes to HR professionalization. Based on survey responses from a representative sample of 172 certified practitioners, the findings support the notion of HR as a strategic asset, raising important implications for the professional status of the occupation within an Asian management context. Copyright © 2017 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1139-1160
JournalAsia Pacific Journal of Management
Issue number4
Early online date03 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


Higgins, P., & Lo, M.-F. (2018). The strategic and cultural legitimacy of HR professionalization in Hong Kong. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 35(4), 1139-1160. doi: 10.1007/s10490-017-9547-7


  • Cultural assets
  • Strategic assets
  • Hong Kong
  • Human resource management
  • Professionalization

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