The first wave of provocations in this journal suggests the subject of human resource management is in a state of unrest: it has been plagued with conceptual problems, the theory is mostly inadequate to fully explain the links to performance, and the intellectual space may have been colonized by uncritical positivistic psychology. Alongside these provocations are the voices of others.
Kochan warns of a crisis of legitimacy for the profession, having failed to establish authority among higher executives. Marchington argues that the human resource (HR) function has been too busy looking up by focusing on short term performance metrics to the neglect of long standing values and concerns of other stakeholders.
In this provocation, we advance the argument that HRM is at risk of intellectual and professional impoverishment because of a pro market ontology rather than a more inclusive pro business orientation. By pro business, we mean a focus on the longer term sustainability of both organizations and people, rather than just immediate shareholder interests of profit taking.
As an approach, it embraces a fuller recognition of the interests of wider stakeholders beyond shareholders, including employees and community groups. The pro business idea we advocate has potential contributions to make to public policy debates, wider societal challenges as well as workplace equity.
A pro business orientation recognizes a multitude of stakeholders relevant to a business entity, even where some have interests that may differ from the immediate objectives of management or other short term corporate goals. Pro business stakeholders may include employees, trade unions, non government organizations, civil society organizations, charities, suppliers, supply chain networks, and community groups.
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