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Alignment, integration, and consistency in HRM across multi-employer networks

Marchington, Mick and Rubery, J and Grimshaw, D (2011) Alignment, integration, and consistency in HRM across multi-employer networks. Human Resource Management, 50 (3). pp. 313-339. ISSN 0090-4848

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Abstract

Most studies of human resource management (HRM) have been conducted within the context of the single employing organization, which is strange given the recent growth in multi-employer networks. In this study, the authors examine whether alignment, integration, and consistency—concepts central to or implicit in most analyses of HRM—has meaning and relevance in the multi-employer context. They focus specifically on networks in which collaboration is intended to deliver high levels of product quality or customer service, precisely where one might expect employers would be attracted to “strong” HRM systems. Data was collected via interviews and document analysis in four networks, spanning both the public and private sectors in the United Kingdom. Despite a set of potentially favorable conditions within these networks to promote alignment, integration, and consistency, implementation was impeded by other equally powerful forces, including differences in employer goals within networks, especially between public and private sector organizations; intraorganizational tensions within internal labor markets for organizations involved in networks; using divergent HR policies between organizations within multi-employer networks; and contradictions between the pursuit of “among employee” or “temporal” consistency for workers. Rather than prescribing a one-size-fits-all solution for these problems, it is argued that detailed analysis of each network is necessary. ©2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.