Edited by Geoffrey Wood and Mehmet Demirbag
Chapter 5: Framing Human Resource Management: The Importance of National Institutional Environments to What Management Does (and Should Do)
John Godard 5.1 INTRODUCTION The study of labour and employment practices has a long history, dating at least to the early 20th century (Kaufman 2008, 36ff). Yet the term ‘human resource management’ (HRM) did not enter popular usage until the 1980s. The emergence of this term and the practices associated with it reflected a unique set of historical conditions – conditions that portended a major shift in academic ideologies. Whether it also portended the emergence of a new field or simply the transformation of an old one – in substance as well as name – is unclear.1 But there can be little question of a major break between the study of labour and employment practices prior to the 1980s and the study of these practices subsequently. There can also be little question that the received wisdom changed, especially in liberal market economies, and that this was reflected not only in academic work, but also (to some degree) in what employers did. In effect, the accommodative, pluralistic practices advocated in the post-Second World War era came to be viewed as obsolete, to be replaced by the more unitary, managerialist practices of the ‘new’ HRM, with its emphasis on aligning employee goals with those of the employer through values-based selection, ‘soft’ skills training, performance management and financial incentives. Underlying this shift was an important set of unstated assumptions – assumptions that reflected the broader ideologies and conditions of the time (see Godard and Delaney 2000). In a nutshell, these assumptions were those of a neoliberal world,...
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