Where human resource management (HRM) has been addressed in concurrent engineering (CE), it has been universalistic, prescriptive, and issues rather than system based. This article challenges this perspective through a critical examination of CE and its associated cross-functional arrangements. Following a review of HRM in CE, an analytic framework is proposed for the systematic exploration of HRM in product innovation. Next, a case analysis of HRM involvement in CE initiatives in Australian and Indonesian manufacturing firms is undertaken, and the implications for real and rhetorical change in CE practices are discussed. © 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.