Critical Theory and Human Resource Management

Longman, Richard and Mackintosh, Catherine (2024). Critical Theory and Human Resource Management. In: Hutchings, Kate; Michailova, Snejina and Wilkinson, Adrian eds. A Concise Guide to Key Theories for Human Resource Management Research. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing, pp. 73–79.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.4337/9781035308767.ch07

Abstract

The Critical Theory entry includes sections that define the theory, explore developments in the theory, demonstrate specific application of the theory to HRM, and provide suggested topic areas for future research. In simple terms, we interpret the aims of Critical Theory as being concerned with increasing freedom and decreasing domination. We understand these aims in the context of the Enlightenment tradition of critical thought, though we point to how Critical Theory tries to illuminate the tensions between freedom and domination (and work productively with them). Critical Theory rejects the approach taken by traditional theories that make un-reflexive claims of neutrality and objectivity to affirm the status quo. Instead, Critical Theory brings together philosophy, humanities, and social sciences. It facilitates empirical, interpretive social research that speaks to, and with, normative claims of truth, morality, and justice, located within a socio-historical context.

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