Trust and Human Resource Management
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Trust and Human Resource Management

Edited by Rosalind H. Searle and Denise Skinner

An organization’s human resource management (HRM) policies and their implementation have long been claimed to influence trust within an organizational environment. However there has, until now, been a limited examination of the relationship between the two. In this unique book, the contributors explore the HRM cycle from entry to exit, and examine in detail the issue of trust and its links with HRM. Each chapter takes an aspect of HRM including; selection, performance management, careers and personal development, training, change management and exit, and offers a new understanding and insight into the role, importance and challenges to trust within these processes.
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Chapter 16: Trust and Engagement in a Downsizing Context: The Impact on Human Resource Managers

Finian Buckley


Finian Buckley INTRODUCTION: HRM IN A RECESSION CONTEXT The impact of economic cycles is a significant factor in understanding the efficacy and appropriateness of human resource management (HRM) practices within organizations (Lahteenmaki et al., 2006). For instance, evidence from organizations facing the recessionary climate following the Asian financial crisis in 1997 indicates that HRM practices shift considerably as a response to economic contraction and that once-diverse human resource (HR) bundles become more limited and primarily focused on improved productivity (Benson and Debroux, 2004). While it may appear intuitive that the HRM function declines in importance when employee numbers contract in a recessionary context, the paradoxical contention, which suggests that in this very context the HRM function becomes a strategic driver of an organization’s future viability, has gained support (Greer and Ireland, 1992). The influence of the HRM function in lean times appears to be key when the HR strategy is aligned with firm strategic intent and is sensitive to internal as well as external needs (for example, Boxall and Purcell, 2004; Chadwick et al., 2004). It would be simplistic to overplay the influence of the role of the HRM function and appropriate HR practices as a key to firm success when managing through a recessionary climate, as research indicates that a host of exogenous and endogenous factors interact to influence firm adjustment (Datta et al., 2010). However, when a firm decides to reduce staffing through downsizing, the role played by the HR function appears to be pivotal in terms of...

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