Duncan Lewis and Charlotte Rayner
Of all the functional departments that deal with bullying at work, it is the personnel or human resource department that is likely to have the greatest involvement. Typically, when we think of workplace bullying and the human resources (HR) function, we think of policy, procedure and a mediating role. Our approach in this chapter is to examine critically the role of human resource management (hereafter HRM) and its relationship to bullying at work. Our perspective is to examine the very essence of HRM as a managerial ideology and not simply as a functional area of organisational structure.
Our discussion will not imply that the HRM function itself has ignored workplace bullying. On the contrary, many HR managers have embraced policy and procedure to deal actively with workplace bullying. Our thesis, derived from an analysis of the philosophy and components which underpin HRM, will be that 'the' philosophy and components of HRM may create an environment in which bullying can remain unchallenged, allowed to thrive or actually encouraged in an indirect way. Therefore the managerial paradigm of HRM may be a source of bullying (not its constituent membership), and our efforts to understand and tackle bullying at work must include it. In order to examine this hypothesis, we need briefly to describe the arrival of HRM and its raison d'être. Additionally, we would like briefly to consider some of the more generalist managerial ideologies within which HRM falls. For without an understanding of the managerial rhetoric, we can never fully grasp how HRM fits into the complex organisational environment. Finally, we would like to demonstrate how these elements can combine to mitigate against dealing with bullying effectively.
This chapter is written through a UK lens; the history of industrial relations and personnel management practice may be different from other countries. As Drumm (1994) noted in his evaluation of HRM in Germany, 'within any specific country, HRM as practised in companies is underpinned by nationally distinct legal frameworks of the constitutional