Our mission and history

Our mission

HRM: The human side of management


The Chair in Human Resource Management belongs to the Faculty of Economics, Business Administration and Information Technology at the University of Zurich. It also constitutes a scientific partner for companies and public institutions. All employees, doctoral candidates, employed and associated lecturers (including those from countries in Europe and North America) form the Chair of Prof. Dr. Bruno Staffelbach.

Human Resource Management is not simply defined by the activities of the Human Resource Department in an organization. Therefore we focus our research, our teaching and our service activities not only on the Human Resource Department as a specific organizational unit. We understand Human Resource Management as the whole of all persons, institutions and functions using and developing the motivation and qualification of all employees and managers of the organization. In the end, it is about the „human side“ of management or the „human side“ of organizations.

This focus leads us to an applied and multidisciplinary approach. We utilize relevant theories and research findings in order to explain phenomena in the management of human resources and to develop practical recommendations.

Relevant and reflexive

We focus our research activities on three main areas: careers and labor markets, leadership and motivation, HR- and business policies. We specifically investigate anomalies, pitfalls, reasons for failures, hidden costs, unexpected consequences and counterproductive side effects. Ethical behavior receives a special attention.

Our research is mostly empirical (both qualitative and quantitative) with special focus on behavioral Human Resource Management. We apply economic, psychological and ethical theories in order to understand, to explain and to assess phenomena in the management of human resources.

We are an active partner in Swiss, European, and global research platforms and networks. For example, the Swiss Human-Relations-Barometer is an infrastructure project running since 2005 in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Gudela Grote from the ETH Zurich and financed by the Swiss National Foundation that has become a brand for the Chair in Switzerland. Furthermore, we represent Switzerland in CRANET, the Cranfield Network on International Human Resource Management, which operates in more than 40 countries. Finally, we are also co-investigators for Switzerland in the Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness Project (GLOBE), a research program that operates in 61 countries around the world..

Problem and action oriented

In teaching, we strive to combine problem-based learning with critical thinking, practical application with scientific evidence, as well as academic excellence with moral responsibility.

On the Bachelor level, including the introductory Assessment level, we concentrate on conveying the fundamental technical and methodological knowledge.

On the Master level, we concentrate on more in-depth knowledge of Human Resource Management, methodological (academic) qualifications and social competencies achieved through collaborative learning via both practical case studies and scientific research projects.

On the PhD level, we support doctoral candidates as they run their own research projects, publish their research findings in journals, present their results at conferences and develop required qualifications for academic careers.

On the Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) and Executive Master in Arts Administration (EMAA) levels, we teach the newest research findings in the area of Human Resource Management in such a way that participants are able to translate this new knowledge into their own organizational and management practices.

Academia and networking

The Chair in Human Resource Management connects science and practice, offers scientific services, and is involved in the academic self-management of the University.

As a part of the scientific community, we concentrate our services less on management consultancy and more on scientific expertise, academic post-graduate education, and professional presentations. Practice-oriented publications as well as the Network of the Chair in Human Resource Management are the platforms we use to build up, reinforce and maintain bridges between the science and practice of Human Resource Management.

Our history

1833 Founding of the University of Zurich.
1903 Friedrich Schär is appointed the first Professor of Business Administration. At that time, no lectures were devoted to Human Resource Management (HRM).
1960 In the 1960s, in line with recognized problems in the area of Human Resources in Swiss companies, several institutes of the University of Zurich started to selectively engage in topics related to economic, legal, psychological, medical or ethical questions.
1978 First lecture specially devoted to Human Resources by Prof. Dr. Jan S. Krulis-Randa and other lecturers.
1. April 1992

Foundation of the Chair. Appointment of Prof. Dr. Bruno Staffelbach as the Chair holder; Integration of the Chair into the Institute for Research in Business Administration (Institut für Betriebswirtschaftliche Forschung). Since then, the Chair in Human Resource Management is the center for teaching and research in HRM. The Chair is practice-oriented, multidisciplinary and belongs to the Faculty of Economics.
1992 - 2001 Lectures, seminars and courses for students, doctoral candidates and postgraduates; Research in diverse aspects of strategic HRM. Development of the Executive MBA Program at the University of Zurich.
Since 2002 Implementation of the credit point system (ECTS); Focus on Performance and Competence Management, Strategic Human Resource Management, Leadership and Job Analysis & Design; Implementation of 'Problem-based Learning' as a part of the teaching concept.
1. Jan. 2004 Chair is part of the newly established Institute for Strategy and Business Economics (ISU).
1. Jan. 2010 As a result of reorganization, the Chair becomes a part of the Department of Business Administration.