The theoretical pure HRM model contains number of internal contradictions, such as emphasis on team work while encouraging performance related pay schemes. Legge points out that integration of pure model of HRM with cooperate strategy is highly impractical due to these contradictions. Also other critics have argued that, most of the times, companies are driven by other financial oriented objectives, which may not be compatible with the practices of HRM (Beardwell, Holden and Storey 2004).
Evidence shows that only 21% of private sector workplaces have implemented full employment relation policies (WERS98). HRM is said to be unitarist. This means that principle of HRM is for the whole organization to work as a team. Therefore, in theory, there shouldn’t be any need for Trade union (pluralist). The percentage of employees covered by collective bargaining agreement has declined from 71% in 1984 (WIRS3), to 41% in 1998 (WERS98). However, trade unions still exist in larger enterprises. Little emphasis is made by British organizations upon disengagement from the pluralist stance.
Why is this the case? HRM has its ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ dimensions. The soft aspect emphasizes “the term human, thus conjuring up echoes of the human relations movement and a stress on employee development, group relations and constructive supervision. ” (Storey and Sisson 1993) In practice, only few foreign-owned companies practice the soft version and many practices the hard version. The hard aspect is more calculative and business- focused, and stresses the idea of managing resource. Hard faced HRM is usually used when they want to confront trade union.
This is because, by limiting the role of trade union, the management can take advantage of economical and political situation of an organization (Storey and Sisson, 1993). However, there is no evidence that de-recognition of Trade Unions will lead to higher efficiency in employment management. Ironically, more HRM-related changes are made by unionized enterprises where the ‘voice’ of employees can be heard. “Worryingly as the number of non-union workplaces increased there was a decline in number of Health and Safety Committees and accidents and injuries rose. ” (Gill, 2005)
Human Resource Management represents more humane approach to employee management, which emphasises employee commitment and involvement. As we have seen, there are ambiguities and controversies in many aspects of HRM (e. g. the meaning of the concept, evidence of take-up and implementation, and consequences of implementation), and there are many discrepancies between the rhetoric and reality of HR practices. The ideal model of HRM is very difficult to achieve in reality. It is better to view it as a set of approaches or tools to be identified by organizations to guide them to success.
References and Bibliography
Beardwell, I. Holden, L. and Claydon, T. (2004) Human Resource Management- A Contemporary Approach, Harlow: Pearson Education.
Storey, J. (2001) Human Resource Management- A Critical Text. Surrey: Thompson.
Storey, J and Sisson, K. (1993) Managing Human Resources and Industrial Relations. Briston: Open University Press.
http://www.niesr.ac.uk/niesr/wers98/TIMESER/INTRONOT.PDF – The Experience of Teamwork: Analysis of the WERS98 Employee Survey
http://www.niesr.ac.uk/niesr/wers98/ – WER98 Data Dissemination Service