Purpose – Illustrates how good HR practices can help when a company becomes engulfed in conflict with neighboring communities. Design/methodology/approach – Describes the case of Aracruz Celulose which, while feted with awards for its best practice on sustainability and HR, was involved in a 30‐year conflict over land ownership. Findings – Argues that HR managers can: ensure that the firm's talent pool has the requisite leadership skills for future challenges; play a role in educating managers, workers and stakeholders so that their mindsets are changing with the times and current realities; take steps to ward off or ameliorate the effect of societal conflicts and targeting by non‐governmental organizations; educate and advocate that HRM best practices with employees and other stakeholders hold equal importance to best practices in internal operations; establish social‐performance tools to audit how well the company is doing in terms of corporate social responsibility and stakeholder relations. Practical implications – Reveals that best practice in operational areas under a company's control cannot always protect firms from risks related to wider societal dilemmas. Originality/value – Cautions against allowing claim and counter‐claim to fuel a festering dispute.
Human Resource Management International Digest – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 6, 2008
Keywords: Best practice; Sustainable development; Human resource management; Risk assessment; Stakeholder analysis