This Special Issue of Research & Practice in Human Resource Management focuses on the roles of human resource management (HRM) in the management of crises, at both societal and institutional levels. Whilst crises have always provided a significant problem (at macro- and micro- levels) for managers in all countries and in all industry sectors, recent global and regional events have ensured that crisis management will remain as an enduring challenge for organisations and their HR managers, and will need to be incorporated within their ongoing strategic business plans. The significance of effective crisis management strategies, plans, and policies, and the associated roles of HR professionals, are the subject of this Special Issue of the journal.

The Issue contains four scholarly articles which collectively demonstrate the range of possible responses to the preparation for, responses to, and recovery from, macro- and micro- crises, at both societal and institutional levels. Thus, Chew highlights the crises and challenges associated with the management of expatriate employees, and suggests that effective international HRM demands a holistic and strategic management approach, involving prevention, preparedness, and repatriation components.

Chan and his colleagues explore the global ‘nursing crisis’, with an emphasis on the retention of valued employees, and recommend both structural and customised solutions, including the utilisation of agency staffing and creative remuneration programs, together with broader campaigns to improve the quality of nurses’ work/family life issues.

In the third article, Timo and his co-authors build on this ‘crisis’ in the nursing profession exemplified by the reported incidence of ‘bullying’ in the aged care sector. The relevance for HRM is that the ‘grey’ population is increasing in Australia and in many regional countries, and that bullying is counterproductive to effective micro-crisis management in this sector. Hosie and Smith add to the debates on crisis management with an analysis of the effectiveness of an online crisis management course provided by a Western Australian university.

Common threads of the papers are the notions that crisis management is a natural component and corollary of strategic management; that contingency strategies need to be developed; and that HRM professionals need to be involved in all phases of crisis management, in order to ensure the integration of HR and business approaches to the management of crises.

In addition to the above articles, this Issue contains two Research Notes and two book reviews. These Research Notes (Williams/Shakeela) explore the linkages between affective mood and cognitive perceptions of judgement and decision-making, and challenge extant views on managerial/leadership values in the contexts of Mauritius and the Maldives.

This Special Issue has been designed to focus on the multifaceted roles of HRM in dealing with the macro- and micro- issues of managing crises in an increasingly complex global environment. We trust that it will stimulate both academics and HR professionals to present similar manuscripts in subsequent issues.

Dr. Alan Nankervis
Dr. Cecil Pearson
December 2004