Author(s): Bratton, John; Gold, Jeff

📇 Palgrave Macmillan, Year: 2012

This book is concerned with managing people, both individually and collectively, in the workplace. Emerging from the worst cyclical economic recession since 1945, human resource management (HRM) has assumed new prominence as concerns about global competitiveness, the demographics of ageing and climate change persist. It is argued that these global drivers of change require managers to adjust the way in which they manage in order to achieve innovation, sustainable growth and an effective use of employees. For some, HRM is associated with a set of distinctive ‘best’ practices that aim to recruit, develop, reward and manage people in ways that create what are called ‘high performing work systems’. For others, the HRM stereotype is simply a repackaging of ‘good’ personnel management practices – the ‘old wine in new bottles’ critique – or more fundamentally exposes enduring conflicts and paradoxes associated with labour management. As managers strive to reduce costs, most follow conventional wisdom – downsizing, restructuring and outsourcing work to ever cheaper labour markets – rather than looking to HRM in order to create competitive advantage or provide superior public services. Critical management theorists point to the need to address the conflict between the dual imperatives of competitiveness and control, and the cooperation and commitment of employees. Within the academic study of HRM, this conflict is often framed in terms of ‘the rhetoric versus the reality’ of HRM. This chapter examines the complex debate surrounding the nature and significance of contemporary HRM. After defining HRM, we will examine the nature of the employment relationship and HRM functions. We will also explore some influential theoretical models that attempt to define HRM analytically. We will begin, however, by briefly examining the development of HRM


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