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The totalitarian dynamic behind HRM's democratic façade

Abbott, Keith 2015, The totalitarian dynamic behind HRM's democratic façade, Asia Pacific journal of human resources, vol. 53, no. 2, pp. 204-220, doi: 10.1111/1744-7941.12056.

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Title The totalitarian dynamic behind HRM's democratic façade
Author(s) Abbott, Keith
Journal name Asia Pacific journal of human resources
Volume number 53
Issue number 2
Start page 204
End page 220
Total pages 17
Publisher Wiley
Place of publication London, Eng.
Publication date 2015-04
ISSN 1038-4111
1744-7941
Keyword(s) Corporate culture
Employee participation
Employee relations
Organisational politics
Social Sciences
Industrial Relations & Labor
Management
Business & Economics
HUMAN-RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
PERFORMANCE WORK SYSTEMS
EMPLOYEE VOICE
WORKPLACE
PARTNERSHIP
PARTICIPATION
EXPERIENCE
Summary The terms 'authoritarian' and 'democratic' are political concepts often applied as a means of distinguishing human resource management (HRM) from older forms of labour management, the common assertion being that former authoritarian practices have become more democratic under HRM. This article challenges this view by arguing that the foundational principles and practices of HRM, when orientated by the expectations of a 'desired' organisational culture, cast it into a role that involves mobilising the collective psychology of organisational members to accept willingly the legitimacy of managerial authority and the virtues of firm loyalty. It is suggested that such a role has no parallel in orthodox democratic arrangements; that if political concepts are to be applied to the way labour is managed under HRM, a clearer affinity exists with the aims and practices of totalitarian regimes and their use of propaganda and other means to control civilian populations. Key points: This article challenges the assumption that HRM is cast in the spirit of democracy. HRM's foundational principles and functional practices are instead more closely aligned with totalitarian conceptions of social control. This is evidenced by HRM's role in mobilising the collective psychology of employees in accordance with a 'desired' workplace culture proscribed by organisational leaderships.
Language eng
DOI 10.1111/1744-7941.12056
Field of Research 150305 Human Resources Management
Socio Economic Objective 970115 Expanding Knowledge in Commerce
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2015, Wiley
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30073397

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: School of Management and Marketing
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