HR: For the People?

HR: For the People?

Rachelle K. Scott, Devi Akella
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-5820-1.ch001
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This case study follows the career of Robert Peters (pseudonym), a middle level manager who faces numerous challenges as a team manager during his fledgling years. He is constantly questioning his role as the managerial representative who has to take care of his team members, their interests, and professional welfare. Scenarios such as the ethicality of senior management in ordering their lower level managers to spy on the employees during unfolding of trade unions activity, employees' rights during various change processes, disciplinary actions taken on employees which may lack human compassion, and issues pertaining to equity due to bias and nepotism are explored. This is an effort to understand the unequal quotient between labor and management, hidden depths in human resources (HR) role and functions, and ethical dilemmas which HR managers confront during their corporate career. This case study will enable readers to critically reflect on the responsibilities of HR, including its challenging role as the intermediary between the labor and management.
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Setting The Stage

This case study combines the theoretical lens of the labor process theory, a paradigm of critical management studies and the systems theory and path goal leadership theory from the functionalism perspective to fully explore and deconstruct the complexities surrounding human resources management as a managerial function and a manager’s responsibility. The integration of a critical and systems perspective would enable comprehension of human resources management (HRM) holistically, in terms of understanding the power intricacies inherent within HRM due to the unavoidable class conflict existing within the production system, and the outlook of the HR practitioners or managers who try to reconcile the tensions between the management who is responsible for their monthly paycheck and further career advancements and the needs of their subordinates while at work (Keenoy, 1999). HRM, as a subjective discipline and managerial responsibility can be described as a highly complexed reality, not capable of neatly fitting into any specific theoretical framework (Gill, 2007).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Trade Unions: Also known as labor unions, are collective group of workers in a trade, or trades, or profession who come together to protect their interests, rights and increase their bargaining capability with the management during conflicts such as strikes, lockouts, etc.

High Performing Organization: A team or work unit that reaches maximum results by bringing their diverse skills and talents to bear in a highly effective manner. The focus is on long-term viability by attaining intermediate goals, led by members throughout the levels of the organization.

Merger: When two companies combine structurally and culturally to form a new organization.

Ethical Dilemmas: Situations where an individual must choose between two options, one which is morally correct and other which might be morally questionable.

Management: Constitutes all activities which plan, coordinate, organize and control the work and activities of employees within an organization to ensure the organization meets its goals and objectives.

Change Agent: An individual, inside or outside the organization, who helps the organization in improving itself either structurally, culturally, or strategically to increase its overall effectiveness in terms of quality, production and customer and employee satisfaction.

Human Resources Management (HRM): A managerial function concerned with managing people within organizations. The responsibilities of HRM constitute recruiting, selecting, performance management, compensation, training, and development, complying with labor laws and equal employment opportunities.

Performance Appraisal: Reviews and measures an employee’s overall performance at his/her job at regular intervals usually six months to one year. The employee is given feedback on his/her performance in terms of skills acquired, achievements, growth, and development or on lack of it.

Career: All activities related to one’s occupation or professions undertaken by an individual during his/her lifetime.

Empathy: The display of emotional connection between one person and another, with the intent of conveying understanding of what the individual is experiencing or has undergone in the past.

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