MODULE OUTLINE – ASB 4904 Applied Business Project (ABP)

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Human Resource Management (HRM)

June 13th-17th 2016

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The aim of this module is to examine themes and developments in the field of contemporary Human Resources Management (HRM), grounded in both theory and practice. It seeks to be relevant to managers and employees facing the changing practical nature of the world of work.

Human resource management (HRM) is about people and the organization of work, the manner in which firms seek to manage and deploy employees in order to realize corporate strategies, and the day to day interactions between employers and employees. HRM came to the fore as a supposedly distinctive approach to people management in the mid-1980s. A key contemporary theme concerns the aim of strategic HRM: which is the horizontal integration of all areas of people management practice, and to bring this vertically in line with overall organizational strategic objectives (vertical integration). A key issue in this regard is the extent to which horizontally and vertically integrated ‘bundles’ of strategic HRM practices are present in different organizations in reality. In practice, the extent of horizontal and vertical integration of people management practices will differ from one organizational context to the next, especially in highly uncertain economic times. Many firms compete on the basis of low cost and still adopt a relatively unsophisticated approach to people management.

Further, critical analysis of HRM recognizes that employees may not constitute a passive commodity to be used, redeployed and disposed of at will by their employers. Employees may have interests that differ from their employer and may react and respond to managerial interventions in various ways, and these responses have to be taken into account in managing people. Consequently, critical analysis of HRM points to the fact that employment relations may be characterized by conflict and cooperation between employers and workers. In relation to this, another key theme is how HR managers often face competing organizational pressures: notably, developing employees as a valuable resource to be trained and developed, while also reducing labour costs, control employee performance, intensify work, issue redundancy notices. HRM is also discussed in its wider organizational, national and international contexts. A key theme here is issues relating to globalization; for instance whether there has been convergence or divergence of HRM practices across organizations, sectors and countries.


  1. A critical awareness of the different approaches to human resource management.
  2. An appreciation of the potential contribution of the four main HRM functions.
  3. Knowledge of the debates and key themes surrounding contemporary HRM practices.
  4. An understanding of the conflicts and tensions in the employment relationship.
  5. Integration of theory and practice by relating HRM models, concepts, and perspectives to personal experiences, examples in current business literature, media, and case studies.
  6. Some issues relating to the impact of globalization on HRM.


A summary of the interactive programme for this module includes:

Session 1: Introduction to HRM

  • Module outline
  • Introduction to HRM and its historical emergence.
  • Introducing the four main HRM functions: resourcing the organisation, developing the individual, the employment relationship, and managing and rewarding performance.
  • The role of HR specialists.
  • The context of HRM.
  • Case study example and interactive discussions.

Session 2: Contemporary theories and models of Strategic HRM

  • What is Strategy and Strategic HRM?
  • Different theories and models of HRM (best fit, best practice, resource-based view).
  • Critical analysis of HRM theories and models.
  • Interactive discussions.

Session 3: Resourcing the organisation and developing the individual human resource

  • HRM and the external and internal labour market.
  • Recruitment and selection.
  • Human Resource Development (HRD).
  • Case study example and interactive discussions.

Session 4: The Employment Relationship

  • The employment relationship and the employment contract
  • Employment law
  • Conflict and cooperation
  • Key current themes in employment relations.
  • Managing and rewarding performance.
  • Interactive discussions.

Session 5: Globalization and International HRM

  • Globalization
  • Varieties of capitalism
  • The divergence v convergence debate
  • International HRM
  • Multinational companies
  • Case study example and interactive discussions.


Interactive lecture/workshop

Guided study (reading material, case studies, questions, and group discussions)

Assessment Methods

One individual written assignment of 3000 words. Deadline for assignment is September 7th, 2015. The assignment is posted on blackboard.


Students found plagiarizing or engaging in other forms of cheating can expect to fail the course.


Core textbooks:

Beardwell J. and Claydon, T. (2010) Human Resource Management a Contemporary Approach (6th edition). Harlow: FT Prentice Hall (Pearson Education). Or fifth edition (2007).

Bratton, J., and Gold, J. (2012) Human Resource Management: Theory and Practice (5th edition). Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan. Other editions available in library.

Gilmore, S. and Williams, S. (2013). Human Resource Management. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Supplementary books:

Armstrong M (2010) Armstrong’s essential human resource management (electronic resource available on library website).

Boxall, P. and Purcell, J. (2011) Strategy and Human Resource Management (3rd edition). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Boxall, P. and Purcell, J. (2015) Management, work and organisations. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Boxall, P., Purcell, J. and Wright, P. (eds) (2007) The Oxford Handbook of Human Resource Management. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.

Colling, T. and Terry M (2010) Industrial Relations Theory and Practice (3rd edition). Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.

Frege, C. and Kelly, J. (eds.) (2013) Comparative Employment Relations in the Global Economy. Oxon: Routledge.

Legge, K. (2005) Human Resource Management: Rhetoric and Realities (Special Anniversary Edition). Basingstoke: Palgrave. Earlier edition available in library.

Marchington M, and Wilkinson A (2008) Human Resource Management at Work: People Management and Development (4th edition). London: CIPD. Other editions available in library.

Martinez Lucio, M. (ed.) (2014) International Human Resource Management: An Employment Relations Perspective. London: Sage.

Redman T. and Wilkinson, A. (2013) Contemporary human resource management: text and cases (4th edition). Harlow: Prentice Hall. Earlier edition available in library.

Storey, J. (eds) (2007) Human Resource Management: A critical text (3rd edition). London: Thompson Education.

Torrington, D., Hall, L & Taylor, S. (2005) Human Resource Management (6th edition). Harlow: Prentice Hall. Other editions available in library.

Williams, S. (2013) Globalization and Work. Cambridge: Polity.

Williams, S. (2014). Introducing Employment Relations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Some relevant journals

British Journal of Industrial Relations

British Journal of Management

Economic and Industrial Democracy

Human Relations

Human Resource Development International

Human Resource Management (USA)

Human Resource Management Journal (UK)

Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society

International Journal of Human Resource Management

Journal of Management Studies

People Management

Personnel Review

Work Employment and Society

Some recommended journal articles on HRM (accessible in e-resource area on library website)

Boxall, P. and Macky, K. (2009) ‘Research and theory on high-performance work systems: progressing the high-involvement stream’, Human Resource Management Journal, 19(1):3-23.

Collings, D., Scullion, H. and Dowling, P. (2009), ‘Global staffing’, International Journal of Human Resource Management, 20(6): 1253-72.

Delbridge, R., Hauptmeier, M. and Sengupta, S. (2011), ‘Beyond the enterprise: broadening the horizons of international HRM’, Human Relations, 64(4): 483-505.

Dundon, T. Wilkinson, A. Marchington, M., and Ackers, P. (2004) ‘The Meanings and Purpose of Employee Voice’, International Journal of Human Resource Management, 15(6): 1149-70.

Farndale et al., (2010), ‘Context-bound configurations of corporate HR functions in multinational corporations’, Human Resource Management, 49(1): 45-66.

Ferner, A., Tregaskis, O., Edwards, P., Edwards, T., Marginson, P., Adam, D. and Meyer, M. (2011), ‘HRM structures and subsidiary discretion in foreign multinationals in the UK’, International Journal of Human Resource Management, 22, (3), 483-509.

Francis, H. and Keegan, A. (2006). The changing face of HRM: in search of balance. Human Resource Management Journal, 16(3): 231–249.

Godard, J. (2004) ‘A critical assessment of the high-performance paradigm’, British Journal of Industrial Relations, 42(2): 349-78.

Guest, D (2011), ‘Human resource management and performance: still searching for some answers’, Human Resource Management Journal, 21(1): 3-13.

Harvey, G. and Turnbull, P. (2010), ‘On the go: walking the high road at a low cost airline’, International Journal of Human Resource Management, 21(2): 230-41.

Kaufman, B. (2010), ‘SHRM Theory in the Post-Huselid Era: Why It Is Fundamentally Misspecified, Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, 49(2): 286–313.

Marchington, M. and Grugulis, I. (2000), ‘Best Practice’ Human Resource Management: Perfect

Opportunity or Dangerous Illusion?’, International Journal of Human Resource Management, 11(6): 1104–24.

Mueller, F. (1996), ‘Human resources as strategic assets; an evolutionary resource-based theory’, Journal of Management Studies, 33(6): 757-85.

Purcell, J. (1999), ‘The search for “best practice” and “best fit”: chimera or cul-de-sac?’ Human Resource Management Journal, 9(3):26-41.

Schuler, R. et al., (1993), ‘An integrative framework of strategic international human resource management’, Journal of Management, 19(2): 419-59.

Schuler, R., Jackson, S. and Tarique, I. (2011) ‘Global talent management and global talent challenges: strategic opportunities for IHRM’, Journal of World Business, 46: 506-16.

Smith, C. and Meiksins, P. (1995), ‘System, societal and dominance effects in cross-national organisational analysis’, Work Employment and Society, 9(2): 241-68.

Thompson, P. (2011), ‘The trouble with HRM’, Human Resource Management Journal, 21(4) (doi: 10.1111/j.1748-8583.2011.00180.x)

Internet resources

Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD):

Click on HR Resources for helpful factsheets on various HRM topics.

The Financial Times:

The Guardian:

Free on-line text book resource – Employment Relations Matters

European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions


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