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Edited by Adrian Wilkinson, Jimmy Donaghey, Tony Dundon and Richard B. Freeman
Tony Dundon and Adrian Wilkinson
Many textbooks on HRM and Industrial Relations combine discursive, prescriptive, theoretical and sometimes a critical synthesis of the practical applications of abstract concepts and ideas. As a field of study, HRM covers a wide remit associated with work, employment and organizational studies. Academic disciplines overlap between sociology, economics, law, history or industrial and organisational psychology (among others) (Boxall and Purcell, 2016; Wilkinson et al., 2017, 2019; Bratton and Gold, 2019). Most approaches have the admirable aim of synthesising information and concepts to impart a degree of knowledge. Some even seek to contrast alternative or differing interpretations of such knowledge with demonstration through models, frameworks, contemporary innovations that relate to evolving contexts and scenarios for application.
Edited by Adrian Wilkinson and Michael Barry
Mikaela Backman, Charlie Karlsson and Orsa Kekezi
Thomas P. Moliterno and Anthony J. Nyberg
This volume is about human capital resources (HCRs). Since the HCR construct is a newcomer to a long-standing literature on human capital (Becker, 1964), we begin with a brief historical thumbnail review of the history of research on HCR. We do so to provide a quick orientation to the focus of this volume: it is neither our intention nor hope to be exhaustive in this regard. Over the past 20 years, there has been an increasing convergence of scholarly disciplines exploring the association of human capital and organizational performance. Early gatherings at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Utah brought together arrays of scholars from diverse backgrounds who were interested in exploring the organizational effects and antecedents of human capital. As scholarly discourse at the intersection of these fields grew, researchers from strategic human resource management (HRM) and strategy disciplines combined to create the Strategic Human Capital Interest Group that first met in Rome in 2010 and has been one of the faster-growing interest groups of the Strategic Management Society (SMS). At this point, the HCR construct had not yet been articulated and defined. Its genesis came from the realization that the human capital construct had begun to take on different meanings in different literatures. Many scholars thought of human capital as something specifically owned by workers (i.e., “the individual’s human capital”), while others were focused on how workers contributed to organizational performance (i.e., “the firm’s human capital”). That is, some researchers (predominantly from the “micro” traditions of organizational behavior, organizational psychology, and human resource management) focused on the “human” and some researchers (predominantly from the “macro” traditions of strategy and economics) focused on the “capital.” Hence the term “human capital” was simultaneously being used too broadly, including all firm-level phenomena involving workers, and too narrowly, missing how individual differences in knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics (KSAOs) help define the value of the worker to the firm.
Edited by Karl Koch and Pietro Manzella
Keith Townsend, Aoife M. McDermott, Kenneth Cafferkey and Tony Dundon
It is perhaps easier to explain what theory is not rather than what it is. Theory is not facts or data. Nor is theory a hypothesis, or a case study. It is not a literature review. A theory is a set of general principles or ideas that are meant to explain how something works, and is independent of what it intends to explain. The purpose of a theory (or set of theories) is to help explain what causes something to occur, or to inform us of the likely consequences of a phenomenon. In so doing, theories can be more or less abstract, and be pitched at different levels - explaining society, processes, relations, behaviour and perceptions. For practitioners, theories can enhance understanding and inform decision-making. For researchers, theories shape the framing of their data, and are often presented as an essential part of any well-designed research project. Reflecting this, Hambrick (2007: 1346) argues that theory is essential for a field to flourish and advance. Indeed, many management journals require scholars to make a ‘theoretical contribution’ to get published, prompting something of an obsession with a theory-driven approach in management-related areas. Thus, while recognizing the value and importance of theory, we offer a cautionary note. Specifically, we suggest that it may be fruitful for a field to support initial consideration of phenomena-driven trends or patterns before becoming fixated on having a theoretical explanation. For example, that smoking can cause harm and ill health in humans does not need a theory to prove its validity (Hambrick, 2007). Reflecting this, in disciplines such as sociology, economics and finance there has been less of an ‘essential need’ to publish with some new theoretical development in mind. Instead, ideas, logics, concepts, premises are given due attention and the notion of exploring data is seen as valid and valuable in deciding if certain issues or phenomena are in themselves evident or emergent. Where this is the case, theory can then help to understand and explain such issues. Theory is therefore a crucial lens on the world, one that provides value in addressing both evident and emergent issues. Notwithstanding that empirics and theory both contribute value and vibrancy to a field, our focus here is on the role of theory, and some of the specific theories used in employment relations (ER) and human resource management (HRM) research.