Table of Contents

Handbook of Qualitative Research Methods on Human Resource Management

Handbook of Qualitative Research Methods on Human Resource Management

Innovative Techniques

Handbooks of Research Methods in Management series

Edited by Keith Townsend, Rebecca Loudoun and David Lewin

This Handbook explores the opportunities and challenges of new technologies for innovating data collection and data analysis in the context of human resource management. Written by some of the world’s leading researchers in their field, it comprehensively explores modern qualitative research methods from good project design, to innovations in data sources and data collection methods and, finally, to best-practice in data analysis.

Chapter 5: Using legal research methods in human resource management research

Richard Johnstone

Subjects: business and management, human resource management, research methods in business and management, research methods, qualitative research methods, research methods in business and management


This chapter considers the contribution that legal research methods may make to better understand systems at work – particularly human resource systems and their impact on employees. Human resource management (HRM) strategies and choices are bounded and, in many instances, constrained by the regulatory framework for HRM (Barry, 2010). “Regulation” is a broad interdisciplinary phenomenon (see Morgan and Yeung, 2007, pp. 1–7) but in many domains, including HRM, law plays a prominent part in shaping business decisions and processes. For present purposes “law” may simply be defined as “those rules which will be recognised and enforced by the courts” (Chisholm and Nettheim, 2007, p. 11). In Australia there are two sources of law: legislation and common law. Legislation (also called “statutes”) comprises legal rules that are directly enacted by a legislature. In the Australian constitutional systems, the legislature is parliament and a legislative enactment is referred to as an “Act of Parliament”. Legislation may also be created by office holders or bodies to whom the parliament delegates law making power: for example, a minister may make “regulations”, which must be approved by the governor-general or governor. This latter form of legislation is usually called “subordinate legislation”.

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