Vickers, David and Fox, Stephen
Towards practice-based studies of HRM: an actor-network and communities of practice informed approach.
The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 21
Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09585191003729366
HRM may have become co-terminus with the new managerialism in the rhetorical orthodoxies of the HRM textbooks and other platforms for its professional claims. However, we have detailed case-study data showing that HR practices can be much more complicated, nuanced and indeed resistive toward management within organizational settings.
Our study is based on ethnographic research, informed by actor-network theory and community of practice theory conducted by one of the authors over an 18-month period. Using actor-network theory in a descriptive and critical way, we analyse practices of managerial resistance, enrolment and counter-enrolment through which an unofficial network of managers used a formal HRM practice to successfully counteract the official strategy of the firm, which was to close parts of a production site. As a consequence, this network of middle managers effectively changed top management strategy and did so through official HRM practices, coupled with other actor-network building processes, arguably for the ultimate benefit of the organization, though against the initial views of the top management.
The research reported here, may be characterized as a situated study of HRM-in-practice and we draw conclusions which problematize the concept of HRM in contemporary management literature.
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