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Bill Harley

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Bill Harley

Since the 1990s, ‘high-performance work systems’ (HPWS) has come to prominence as a way of conceptualising links between human resource management and organisational performance. Employee voice as a pathway from management practices to performance, via employee outcomes, is central to many accounts of HPWS. The emphasis has been on direct forms of voice, for example via job design, and less often on representative forms of voice in the form of unions and/or collaborative approaches to labour-management relations. While there has been a good deal of research showing positive associations between HPWS and performance, there are relatively few which single out voice mechanisms, and more work is required to tease out causal paths via employees. The role of representative voice has received even less attention in empirical research and the results appear mixed and inconclusive.

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Bill Harley

A number of authors, myself included, have suggested that human resource management (HRM) research – and certainly that published in ‘top’ journals – appears to be dominated by a particular approach which emphasizes positivist methodology, a managerialist frame of reference and reliance on theory drawn from social psychology. Nonetheless, academic HRM is a broad church, with scholars from a range of disciplinary backgrounds publishing quantitative and qualitative research informed by a range of theoretical traditions. This diversity may reflect the changing nature of universities, with many scholars who would previously have worked in discipline-based departments finding themselves in business schools as the former shrink and the latter grow. Particularly in the UK, Australia and Europe, there is a strong tradition of critique from scholars who work in business schools but who question much of the theoretical and practical foundation of contemporary HRM.

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Bill Harley

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Bill Harley

This chapter reviews the development of labour process theory over time and evaluates its contribution to our understanding of the management of labour. It then provides a brief overview of the treatment of power and politics in mainstream scholarship on management and organisations. Discussion then turns to the employment relationship and how mainstream scholarship has dealt with the management of labour. After that, the remainder of the chapter deals with labour process theory. In the final part of the chapter, the legacy of labour process theory and its possible future are considered.

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Bill Harley