Real-World Application of the Strategic Business Partner Role

By Mary Ann Downey

Fourteen years after the publication of Dave Ulrich's ground-breaking book HR Champions, organizations are still grappling with how to implement his recommended model for organizing HR to deliver optimum value. A key to that model is becoming a strategic partner, or as what has come to be known the creation of a strategic business partner (SBP) role. According to a recent i4cp study on the subject, Ulrich's proposal that organizations create a strategic business partner position has turned out to be challenging to both conceptualize and staff.

At the request of an i4cp member organization, we recently conducted a study to determine how the role of strategic business partner functions in high-performing organizations. For the purposes of the study, a SBP was defined as being "responsible for ensuring that the business or global function they support has the organizational capabilities, leadership and talent that are needed and to ensure that employees in those areas are engaged, motivated and rewarded to achieve both long- and short-term business objectives."

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