WOW member co-edits book on Human Resource Management (HRM) that examines how organisations manage their people.

The roots of HRM can be found in the emergence of industrial welfare work from the 1890s, as organisations driven by a mix of humanitarian, religious and business motives began to provide workplace amenities such as medical care, housing and libraries. Employment offices were established to deal with hiring, payroll and record keeping. When scientific management emerged, the principles of science were also to be applied to the management of people as well as the management of production. We see here the shift from direct systems of management (personal supervision, traditional paternalism and simple piecework systems) to more technical design systems of management and bureaucratic forms of control. HRM was originally seen as largely an administrative function dealing with the ‘labour problem’, rather than contributing to strategic goals, much like the HRM we see today. 

But approaches to the management of people can have its origins in one or more competing perspectives to the study and practice of HRM. Table 1. summarises four such competing approaches.

Professor Adrian Wilkinson has co-edited (with Tony Dundon, Kemmy Business School) the 6th edition of  Contemporary Human Resource Management: Text and Cases, a book which began in 2001 with the late Tony Redman.

The first part of the book covers fundamental HRM practices while the second half examines contemporary themes and issues, such as work-place bullying, flexibility, emotions at work, and future of work challenges, include climate debates and issues.

‘Each chapter contains two thought-provoking case studies, encouraging readers to identify, examine and apply key concepts to real-world examples’ says Professor Wilkinson.

This book has been written primarily as a text for students of business and management who are studying HRM.

‘It aims to be critical and pragmatic: we are wary of quick fixes, slogans, prescriptive checklists and bullet points of ‘best practice’. Equally, it is important to recognise wider contextual forces and that institutions matter in affecting how people are managed at work’, says Professor Wilkinson.

All authors are prominent researchers and draw from a considerable depth of research in their field. Each chapter provides a critical review of the topic, bringing together theoretical and empirical material. The emphasis is on analysis and insight, and areas of growing significance are also included in each chapter.

Professor Adrian Wilkinson, Department of Employment Relations and Human Resources, GBS and Member of the Centre for Work, Organisation and Wellbeing.

One of the aims in the presentation of material in this book has been to balance the discussion in terms of both employee expectations and management expectations, including at times issues posed from the COVID-19 pandemic on the HR function. For example, in accounts of topics such as downsizing, involvement and participation, performance management, reward and flexibility, the aim has been not only to examine critically HR’s strategic role in the process, but also to review the impact of these practices on employees and realise how competing agendas shape choice and policy.

‘We wanted to look at the implications of HRM research and theory development for practice and do so in a readable, accessible manner’ says Professor Wilkinson.

The book is now available in electronic, paper and hardback copy.