Adaptive human resource management in dynamic environments
: an example of the COVID-19 crisis

  • David Alexander Brandes (Student)

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


The acknowledgement of Human Capital (HC) as an important source of competitive advantage for firms has significantly increased. But as for other resources, firms need to find a way to manage HC so that it becomes more adaptable. This is essential due to the increasing frequency and severeness of changes in the environments that firms are operating in and it emphasizes that firms should aim to achieve successive temporary advantages. The goal of this research is to understand key factors, practices and processes that enable adaptability in Human Resource Management (HRM) following the Dynamic Capabilities (DC) approach in context of the COVID-19 crisis. The findings aim to build a fundament for the understanding of effective adaptive HR strategies and to give more tangible guidance to managers. To understand the underlying factors that enable adaptability in HRM, a qualitative research format was chosen. A total of six interviews with HRM experts from small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in the tech industry were conducted and analyzed by means of Qualitative Content Analysis (QCA). The main results include an empirically informed construct of second and third order micro foundations of DCs in context of HRM. Thereby, this dissertation complements existing research by providing another layer of micro foundations with an extensive variety of processes, activities and mechanisms which were argued to lead to adaptable HC. Furthermore, it offers practical guidance to HRM executives and a better understanding on which measures can enable adaptive HC on a micro-level.
Date of Award3 May 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Universidade Católica Portuguesa
SupervisorRicardo Ferreira Reis (Supervisor)


  • Adaptive strategies
  • Competitive advantage
  • Dynamic capabilities
  • Human capital
  • Human resource management
  • Micro foundations of dynamic capabilities
  • Qualitative research
  • Tech industry


  • Mestrado em Gestão e Administração de Empresas

Cite this