Critical Contextualized Studies of Human Resource Management

Frans Bévort, Lotte Holck, Mette Mogensen

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How can we study human resource management (HRM) from a critical point of view, without losing the ability to inform practice with relevant insights and engage in the process of developing better organizations for a broad range of stakeholders? Mainstream HRM studies accept, without much reflection, that “best practice” HRM is what is best for management and owners. Critical management studies turns this point of view upside down and holds the view that HRM is always about the exploitation of the weaker stakeholders in organizations. Showing how a contextual view can be critical, this chapter discusses how it is possible to be critical and practically relevant at the same time, drawing on current debates on relevance within critical management studies, under the labels such as “critical performativity” and “Reconstructive reflexivity.” The chapter presents three critical, but equally constructive, analyses of HRM practices. The first addresses how institutional logics affects the practice of HRM professionals; the second presents alternatives to best practice diversity management; and the third examines a case of meditation practices as expressions of managerial control. The merits of the three ways to perform contextualized critical HRM studies are summed up and discussed, thus setting the scene for how to move forward in critical contextualized HRM scholarship.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Contextual Approaches to Human Resource Management
EditorsEmma Parry, Michael J. Morley, Chris Brewster
Number of pages25
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication date2021
ISBN (Print)9780190861162
ISBN (Electronic)9780190861186
Publication statusPublished - 2021
SeriesOxford Handbooks


  • CMS
  • Critical performativity
  • Reflexivity
  • Engaged scholarship
  • Contextualized HRM studies

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