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The trouble with HRM

Thompson, Paul (2011) The trouble with HRM. Human Resource Management Journal, 21 (4). 355–367. ISSN 0954-5395

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Abstract

The legitimacy of HRM is threatened by challenges to the impact of its core research programme and the centrality of its practices and function. If HRM is in crisis, what are the sources and perceived solutions? This article addresses the question of what a critical approach to HRM can contribute to the discussion of its troubles. That territory has often been occupied by adherents of critical management studies. However, such perspectives have shared with normative models the mistaken assertion that HRM is primarily a cultural construct that focuses on the creation of employee commitment. This article makes a case for a political economy approach that situates HR troubles within the constraints of the accumulation regimes of financialised capitalism. Among the outcomes is a strengthening of market discipline rather than commitment as a driver of high performance. While challenging the assumption that HRM is a distinctive mode of managing the employment relationship, it seeks to identify some common grounds for dialogue between mainstream and critical approaches.