Strategic Human Resource Management: Corporate Rhetoric and Human Reality

Strategic Human Resource Management: Corporate Rhetoric and Human Reality

Strategic Human Resource Management: Corporate Rhetoric and Human Reality

Strategic Human Resource Management: Corporate Rhetoric and Human Reality


Life is tough in organizations, both for managers and the managed. Negotiating the rapids of restructuring, downsizing, and refocusing the core business brings with it huge upheavals in job security, the smashing of traditional career structures, and a constant imperative for employees to update their skills while working in an environment of great uncertainty. Based on close collaboration with a number of high profile organizations - BT, Citibank, Glaxo Wellcome, Hewlett Packard, Kraft Jacobs, Suchard, Lloyds-TSB Group, the NHS, and WH Smith - this book sheds light on the organizational responses to large scale changes and details the changing demands made of employees in the process. This book goes beyond fashionable management rhetoric to uncover the reality of human resource management. The team of top researchers examines: the organizational strategies pursued in the face of fast-changing circumstances the links between what is intended and what is realised the way in which HR interventions impact on the individual the influence which HR strategies have on everyday management behaviour This book is a key source of new information for both managers and students about the current state of human resource management and its possible future direction.


This is a not a book about the rhetoric of senior managers, embodied in such statements as 'people are our most important asset' or 'career development is the core of our relationship with our employees'. It is not a set of idealized descriptions of how Hewlett Packard manages performance or a wish list of change management practices at Glaxo Pharmaceuticals UK.

This is a book about the reality of people management in large, complex companies. Some of the companies in the research project on which this book is based are considered to be world class in their management of people, others are not. All are commercially successful, generally one of the top five performers within their business sector. In their diversity, they represent the type of large companies found throughout the Western world and face the challenges which are discussed in executive boardrooms from London to Stockholm to Cincinnati. The many hundreds of thousands of people these companies employ voice concerns and aspirations you can hear in the local bar or on the evening news.

This book represents the culmination of a collaboration between academics and senior managers to study, analyse, reflect, and discuss the challenges they face in people management. It also represents an attempt to reflect the experience, concern, and aspirations of people at all levels in these companies.

How can we characterize our understanding of people management practices in large companies? Back in 1992, a discussion with Hewlett Packard's human resource group in the UK crystallized what some of us had felt from our own perspectives as academics in the field and advisers to companies. Too often our understanding was based on glamorized case studies presented by personnel directors at industry conferences, describing how they had introduced complex human resource systems which had been applauded throughout the company and quickly adopted as a company standard, or detailing the survey responses of senior managers who agreed how important human resource management was in their company, and attested to the continual or rising importance it would have in the future.

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