Investors in People and the Standardization of Professional Knowledge in Personnel Management

Bell, Emma; Taylor, Scott and Thorpe, Richard (2001). Investors in People and the Standardization of Professional Knowledge in Personnel Management. Management Learning, 32(2) pp. 201–219.



Professionalization, for personnel specialists, is accomplished through their organizational activities, and their ability to socialize others into particular ways of operating. The national people management standard, Investors in People (hereafter `IiP), has been promoted as a career vehicle for the personnel manager. From interviews with professional IiP advocates in a range of research case study organizations, this article illustrates some of the ways in which IiP implementation becomes a negotiated process, prone to the career interests of the managers concerned, and shaped by political-organizational contexts. The analysis indicates that IiP represents a codified body of knowledge which legitimates the personnel function and helps to make it recognizable to the rest of the organization. The role of the Training and Enterprise Councils (hereafter TECs), as local regulators of the IiP standard forms part of the broader socio-political context within which organizational recognition is achieved, and as the main external point of contact for the liP advocate. This leads to the conclusion that the origins of standards of best practice, on which IiP is based, are themselves influenced by a broader socio-political process.

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