Unraveling HRM

Identity, Ceremony, and Control in a Management Consultancy Firm

Mats Alvesson, Dan Kärreman

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

This paper addresses human resources management (HRM) systems and practices in a large multinational management consultancy firm. The firm invests considerable resources in HRM, and is frequently praised by employees for its accomplishments in hiring, developing, and promotion. However, this general faith in HRM does not align particularly well with employees' experiences and perceptions of the specific HRM practices in the firm. The paper critically interprets the meaning and the functions of the HRM system and the beliefs supporting it. The paper suggests a reinterpretation of HRM systems and practices based on a cultural-symbolic perspective. It introduces the concepts of excess ceremonialism, identity projects, and aspirational control to highlight and interpret the significance of organizational symbolism in accounting for the role of HRM systems and practices, and the various effects of HRM systems and practices on employee identity and compliance.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOrganization Science
Volume18
Pages (from-to)711-723
ISSN1047-7039
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes

Cite this

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title = "Unraveling HRM: Identity, Ceremony, and Control in a Management Consultancy Firm",
abstract = "This paper addresses human resources management (HRM) systems and practices in a large multinational management consultancy firm. The firm invests considerable resources in HRM, and is frequently praised by employees for its accomplishments in hiring, developing, and promotion. However, this general faith in HRM does not align particularly well with employees' experiences and perceptions of the specific HRM practices in the firm. The paper critically interprets the meaning and the functions of the HRM system and the beliefs supporting it. The paper suggests a reinterpretation of HRM systems and practices based on a cultural-symbolic perspective. It introduces the concepts of excess ceremonialism, identity projects, and aspirational control to highlight and interpret the significance of organizational symbolism in accounting for the role of HRM systems and practices, and the various effects of HRM systems and practices on employee identity and compliance.",
author = "Mats Alvesson and Dan K{\"a}rreman",
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Unraveling HRM : Identity, Ceremony, and Control in a Management Consultancy Firm. / Alvesson, Mats; Kärreman, Dan.

In: Organization Science, Vol. 18, 2007, p. 711-723.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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AB - This paper addresses human resources management (HRM) systems and practices in a large multinational management consultancy firm. The firm invests considerable resources in HRM, and is frequently praised by employees for its accomplishments in hiring, developing, and promotion. However, this general faith in HRM does not align particularly well with employees' experiences and perceptions of the specific HRM practices in the firm. The paper critically interprets the meaning and the functions of the HRM system and the beliefs supporting it. The paper suggests a reinterpretation of HRM systems and practices based on a cultural-symbolic perspective. It introduces the concepts of excess ceremonialism, identity projects, and aspirational control to highlight and interpret the significance of organizational symbolism in accounting for the role of HRM systems and practices, and the various effects of HRM systems and practices on employee identity and compliance.

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