Human Resource Management in a Compartmentalized World: Whither Moral Agency? [Book Review]

Journal of Business Ethics 111 (1):85-96 (2012)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

This article examines the potential for moral agency in human resource management practice. It draws on an ethnographic study of human resource managers in a global organization to provide a theorized account of situated moral agency. This account suggests that within contemporary organizations, institutional structures—particularly the structures of Anglo-American market capitalism— threaten and constrain the capacity of HR managers to exercise moral agency and hence engage in ethical behaviour. The contextualized explanation of HR management action directly addresses the question of whether HRM is inherently unethical. The discussion draws on MacIntyre’s conceptualization of moral agency within contemporary social structures. In practice, HR managers embody roles that may not be wholly compartmentalized. Alternative institutional structures can provide HR managers with a vocabulary of motives for people-centred HRM and widen the scope for the exercising of moral agency, when enacted within reflective relational spaces that provide milieus for critical questioning of logics and values. This article aims to contribute to and extend debate on whether HRM can ever be ethical, and provide a means of reconnecting business ethics with longstanding concerns in critical management studies.

Author's Profile

Tracy Wilcox
University of New South Wales

Analytics

Added to PP
2012-11-15

Downloads
65 (#91,660)

6 months
23 (#92,348)

Historical graph of downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.
How can I increase my downloads?