Academic journal article Management Revue

Sustainable HRM: Bridging Theory and Practice through the 'Respect Openness Continuity (ROC)'-Model**

Academic journal article Management Revue

Sustainable HRM: Bridging Theory and Practice through the 'Respect Openness Continuity (ROC)'-Model**

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), a movement that has gained increasing attention in the past decade, is rooted in the concept of sustainable development, which addresses the needs of today without endangering the needs of coming generations (Brundtland Commission, 1987). Despite the lack of any universally accepted definition of CSR, it is often considered 'the responsibility of enterprises for their impacts on society' (European Commission, 2011). In line with the tradition of triple bottom line (Elkington, 1994), CSR refers to a process of continuous improvement, in which companies voluntarily and systematically integrate economic (Profit), environmental (Planet) and social considerations (People) into their overall business operations. Transparency and consultation with company stakeholders is considered a part of the process. Stakeholders in a company include shareholders, as well as employees, managers, employee representatives, suppliers, buyers, customers, consumers, the local community in which one does business, the government, environmental associations, NGOs and other parties. A recent comparative case study in Belgium (Baisier, 2013) has shown that the implementation of CSR continues to be a learning process for most companies, which tend to implement only some aspects of CSR. Some companies proceed from a fully integrated vision that addresses all three dimensions. Others implement the framework, but do not yet use CSR terminology. A considerable amount of attention is devoted to CSR efforts related to ecology (Planet) and the community or other external stakeholders (People external). Topics related to the economic reality of the company (Profit) draw attention as well, as the survival of the organisation and the justification for its existence are mutually dependent. In practice, CSR initiatives related to employees or other internal stakeholders (People internal) tend to receive less attention.

Pfeffer (2010) states a similar conclusion in 'Academy of Management Perspectives'. He uses a simple search in Google Scholar to illustrate the imbalance between the 3 P's of CSR: 20 800 entries for the term 'ecological sustainability' and 53 000 for 'environmental sustainability', but only 12 900 for 'social sustainability' and 569 for 'human sustainability'. "Why are polar bears or even milk jugs more important than people, not only in terms of research attention, but also as a focus of company initiatives?" (Pfeffer, 2010, p. 35). We would like to anticipate developments related to this rhetorical question. Strengthening the sustainability perspective within the context of HRM could contribute significantly to the positioning (or repositioning) of the internal People dimension, thereby improving its balance with the external People, Profit and Planet dimensions of CSR. To this end, we introduce a conceptual model that aims to bridge theory and practice with regard to sustainable HRM. In doing so, we respond to three calls in the literature: (1) to expand the scope of strategic HRM (SHRM) to incorporate sustainability issues (Ehnert, 2009; Kramar, 2014); (2) to help bridge the gap between theory and sustainable HRM practice (Taylor, Osland, & Egri, 2012); and (3) to encourage future research and debate on this issue (Ehnert & Harry, 2012). The existing body of knowledge on CSR does not automatically correspond to the HRM literature. We therefore present a systematic literature review in order to build a reliable base of knowledge concerning sustainable HRM. We started our litera- ture review by exploring research, practical and conceptual papers in the domain of sustainable HRM. We also collected articles and papers reflecting different theoretical viewpoints that extend beyond the strategic HRM tradition but that are consistent with the CSR tradition (i.e. critical HRM, ethical HRM, stakeholders and institutional theory). We assessed these theoretical viewpoints in terms of their potential contributions to a framework for sustainable HRM. …

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