The take-up of human resource management by mainstream companies: key lessons from research

Storey, John (1993). The take-up of human resource management by mainstream companies: key lessons from research. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 4(3) pp. 529–553.



Drawing upon a major British study involving over 300 interviews in fifteen case organizations from the private and public sectors, this paper draws out the essential elements of recent changes in industrial relations. In particular, it examines the significance of human resource management initiatives for the practice of industrial relations. The main thrust of the paper examines the ways, and the extent to which, mainstream organizations have transposed and absorbed concepts and practices from the highly publicized ‘lead cases’ into their own routines.

The central argument has three component elements: a whole array of managerial initiatives was launched in the period covered by the research; many of the more far-reaching of these were devised and driven from outside personnel or industrial relations management; cumulatively, these initiatives have impacted on the conduct of industrial relations.

A key concept which is identified and explored is that of HRM/IR ‘dualism’. This is the attempted bolting-on of HRM techniques and language alongside prevailing, albeit to some extent diluted, IR proceduralism. Many of the significant changes in labour management practices stemmed from initiatives taken by general managers, manufacturing directors and line managers. Transformative initiatives in the guise of culture change and structural change often carried profound implications for industrial relations even though these initiatives would not traditionally be regarded as part of industrial relations proper.

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