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Contemporary Management Issues - Research Paper

Contemporary Management Issues

(Second Draft) July 2001

The problem of whether employee resistance is possible under corporate relations of power that target the very hearts and minds of workers has become an increasingly important issue in recent critical organization studies. With the advent of 'cultural cleansing' (Strangleman and Roberts, 1999), 'designer selves' (Casey, 1995) and other forms of 'normative controls' (Kunda, 1992) related to culture engineering and teamwork numerous studies have argued that the very capacity for workers to resist management has been insidiously undermined. In the past workers could usually resist corporate controls because they tended to be less normative but when the very identities of workers are intentionally controlled dissent is all but erased from the discursive landscape (Willmott, 1993). The problem with such a pessimistic reading of new management technologies, of course, is the unwarranted exaggeration of the success of management power and the underestimation of the myriad of ways some workers resist corporate control, even under the most claustrophobic hegemonic conditions (Thompson and Ackroyd, 1995). Just because open, overt and collectivised forms of resistance characteristic of Fordism are less prevalent today does not necessarily mean that the recalcitrant worker has finally been subdued. Indeed, a recent stream of research has pointed to more covert, quotidian and even 'subjective' modalities of worker resistance in 'high-commitment' organizations, which were perhaps missed in the past because of their subtly and ostensible innocuousness (Fleming and Sewell, forthcoming).

In light of attempts to broaden definitions of worker opposition an array of employee practices have been highlighted as possible strategies of resistance to cultural control. Joking, irony, cynicism and scepticism, for example, have been documented as 'weapons' workers may use to block and resist new types of corporate domination at the level of selfhood, as our review will shortly demonstrate. In evaluating the research investigating these expressions of resistance, however, we have identified an interesting tension, or paradox, regarding their effectiveness as forms of opposition. Some commentators have argued that resistance articulated in the form of humour, irony and cynicism may have the paradoxical outcome of inadvertently reproducing the domination workers seek to escape because they are given a specious and illusionary sense of freedom and disengage from more 'material' and traditionally located resistances. Indeed, Collinson (1992, 1994), du Gay and Salaman (1992) among others demonstrate how resistance through joking and cynicism, for example, can actually assume the (paradoxical) status of consent due to the 'safety valve' effects they can have in certain power relationships (also see Fleming and Spicer, 2000).

In this chapter we attempt to unravel this paradox by surfacing the models of power underpinning judgements of 'effective' or 'ineffective' resistance in relation to humour, irony and cynicism. It is suggested that those interpretations that consider humour, irony and cynicism ineffective outright still implicitly employ a singular model of power that judges all forms of opposition against the standard of radical upheaval and economic transformation (Fleming and Sewell, forthcoming). Such an approach is, of course, important for highlighting the cases in which some types of resistance are inadvertently functional to a dominant system of power, but it may also marginalise many other forms of transgression that are effective in altering different status quo (to pluralise the Latin term) operating in contemporary organizations. Although cynicism, for example, may not necessarily yield higher wages it may still challenge in transformative ways the emotional or 'psychic' status quo of organizational life. Resistances to different status quo, however, are not mutually exclusive as they may interact in complex, ambiguous and often paradoxical ways. That is to say, humour, irony and cynicism may be subversive on one set of co-ordinates but have spill over effects that either support or undermine resistances on other levels.

In order to think about resistance in this multiple sense we develop the notion of 'plateaux of power and resistance' to conceptualise different articulations of force and their respective oppositions. The concept draws upon a spatial metaphor for the purpose of teasing out the multifarious power and resistance relations present in organizations and illustrate how they are not isolated from one another or mutually exclusive. They may overlap, collide and interrelate in unpredictable ways with different outcomes. Whether humour, irony and cynicism undermine or support traditional forms of organized resistance such as unionism or collective action, for example, becomes an important issue to explore in specific contexts.

Resistance to corporate colonisation?

The emergence of culture engineering and normative control as prominent mechanisms of control in contemporary organizations has received much attention in organization studies. The so-called guru's of culture management argued that if managers instil in employees a unifying set of values, beliefs and norms about the company then they control themselves and come to want what management wants through their own volition (Peters and Waterman, 1982; Deal and Kennedy, 1982). Although the identities of workers have been a concern for managers since the dawn of the industrial era (see Parker, 2000), the extent and reach of corporate culture manipulation as it has emerged in tandem with teams

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Contemporary Issues In Hrm Social Work Essay

Contemporary Issues In Hrm Social Work Essay

Published: 23rd March, 2015 Last Edited: 23rd March, 2015

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

"One of the aspects of happiness is when you can make as little distinction as possible between your work and your play" Paul Krassner (1963)

The most important aspect of a job for workers in the modern era is the work-life balance. There are many different and complicated issues that people have to deal with outside of work while trying to leaving suitable time for relaxation and other preferred leisure activities. According to (Hudson 2005) "Work-life balance, in its broadest sense, is defined as a satisfactory level of involvement or 'fit' between the multiple roles in a person's life. Generally associated with equilibrium or maintaining an overall sense of harmony in life" (p3) In the last-decade we have seen the rise in the number of working adults who now see the work-life balance as a crucial aspect when deciding their long-term job. The changing landscape in Ireland has seen a rise in the number of working mothers, an ageing population with greater care needs and large multinational companies settling in Ireland.

Even though we are currently in the midst of an economic recession this hard-to-define balance is still seen as more important than having a secure position, Gaining skills or been provided training according to statistics provided by the (Graduate Barometer 2011). This proves that we need to fully understand this 'balance' and find the necessary arrangements to satisfy the employee's obvious desire for a work-life balance. The fact that these statistics come from young graduates, it's clear that this will continue to be a vital part of the work environment for generations to come .But perhaps the most common solution is seen to be the availability of a flexible working arrangement within the business and I want to see is that really the way forward.

Work flexibility, according to the Business Dictionary, can be defined as "Work practice (explained by the employer in employment policies and contracts) that allows the employees a certain degree of freedom in deciding how the work will be done and how they'll coordinate their schedules with those of other employees. The employer sets certain limits such as minimum and maximum number of hours of work every day, and the core time during which all employees must be present"(Business Dictionary,2012). There are many different forms of flexible work arrangements including compressed working hours, Flexi-time, Home-working, Job-sharing, Part-time work and shift swaps.

Ireland is special among the other European countries as workers in Ireland don't actually have a constitutional right to flexible hours. Part-time work, along with job-sharing, Flexitime and teleworking are all work arrangements which are at the discretion of Individual employers The Irish response was to introduce the Code of Practises On Access to Part-Time Working in 2006, "This laid the emphasis on improving the quality of part-time work in terms of conditions of work and remuneration".(O'Connell et al, 2003). Although the policies that the state have enforced will obviously have an important role in easing the balance between work and family life there must also be emphasis on the role the firm will play. Most employers will have rigid structure in place with clear rules and regulations on what forms of flexible work there is, if any. Strict adherence to working hour's legislation in the company may stop an employee from receiving the flexible options needed to handle the pressures of their home life which will increase work-life conflicts. "Work-life conflicts are seen to have a potentially detrimental impact on productivity, personal effectiveness, marital relations, child-parent relationships and even child development" (Gornick and Meyers, 2003).

There are a number of factors which may encourage employers to adopt policies to promote work-life balance. These include the business case for such polices (such as lower staff turnover, reduced absence, improved productivity), as well as changes in human resource management and changes in technology that enhances opportunities for working from home (Drew et al. 2003). Crucially this can help the company attract new highly skilled workers who will want to be a part of a company where morale is high due to the greater flexibility people have. Lingle (2005) explains just how important flexibility if a company is to hold onto its most valued members of staff…"Flexibility is one of the most powerful drivers of retention and engagement today. It is empirically linked to higher levels of productivity, resilience and shareholder value". Although this would suggest that flexibility is a key development within the company and benefits the firm but it does little to suggest that the employee's life changes for the good, or is this just taken for granted?

Of course one the major stresses for workers is in the care of the immediate family and this may include either children or older parents and so it is no surprise that many of the cracks in the work-life balance are from the pressures this causes. Greenhaus and Beutell (1985) argue that "work-family conflict is a specific type of inter-role conflict that refers to the perceived incompatibility of role pressures between work and family so that participation in one role makes participation in the other role more difficult" (p. 305). So in theory by reliving the stress from one of these roles e.g. work, then the conflict between the two should be diminished. Although this a very simple way of looking at the situation it seems as though this is the way in which most people think will diffuse any stress on the work-life balance.

Russell et al (2009) expect part-time work to reduce work-life conflict; however, this applies mainly to those who choose to work part-time and the results showed that it proved to be the most effective in reducing both stress from work and at home. This is important as part-time work was the most frequently available type for flexible working arrangements. "It is available in 53% of respondents' workplaces and actually availed of by 20% of all employees" along with flexi-time which" is also a common working arrangement, available to 43% of respondents and used by 23% of all employees". Job sharing had little impact on either work pressure or work life contact as it is not widely taken up by employees and tends to give little information on the work-life balance debate. Russell et al (2009) concluded from their research that while that while "part-time work and flexitime tend to reduce work pressure and work-life conflict, working from home is associated with greater levels of both work pressure and work-life conflict" (p73).

Even though there are potential problems for employers are arranging this flexible option it seems the general consensus is that it will benefit the employees. These benefits are not only social and psychological but McDonald & Bradley (2005) identified a similar set of employer and employee benefits of work-life balance initiatives including "Availability of broader talent pool, earlier return of employee to work after maternal leave, lower rates of absenteeism, positive employer branding, enhanced work related performance". Though research has attested the relevance of work-life balance and established both its direct and indirect economic benefits, it's clear that the difficult economic times has led companies to curtail the amount of flexible family friendly options available to employees, This proves the short sighted nature of recession economics and the underestimated value of employees while also threatening the existence and growth of work-life balance initiatives.

On the other hand it could be argued that there are some flexible working arrangements may actually increase work-life conflict and cause undue stress within the family. An example of his would be someone taking advantage of flexi-time but having work unsociable hours to make up for it and this could cause tensions at home. In Lewis et al (2007) we see that although you may solve the work problems there may still be problems underlying at home or elsewhere… "In the workplace it is often assumed that HR policies can provide flexibility and enhance 'choice' thereby solving WLB issues, without need for systemic change to cultures, structures and practices". So it's possible that maybe the work-life balance is just a construct that can't be simply solved by improved by a more flexible working schedule. In fact Lewis et al(2007) continue by saying that its part of a much more large scale problem that has been passed down through our economic system which leads to "flexible working policies that are often of limited effectiveness because they do not question assumptions about the gendered nature of work or the constraints to individual choices"(p369).

"The first nationwide survey of flexible work arrangements was carried out in 2004 in Ireland" (O'Connell et al 2004). It turned out that part-time work and flexible hours were by far the most prevalent types of flexibility availed of by individual employees. Dunne et al (2008) assert that the key factors that have forced Ireland to reform their current flexible policies are the increased demand for labour during the Celtic Tiger years and the changing demographic that will have larger population living for longer. "It is estimated that those over 65 years will increase as a proportion of the population from the current 17.4% to 43.6 by 2050". This will of course have huge relevance for the next generation seeking flexible working options in order to look after elderly family members who can shift the equilibrium for many people in terms of their work-life balance.

Russell et al (2009) found out through their surveys that "part-time employment was far more significant among women workers (35.1%) than among men (9.4%). Gender differences were quite evident with employees that were working from home (primarily men) and job sharing (primarily women)". In general, women are more likely than men to take up flexible working arrangements, the most common are usually those that entail flexibility in hours and reduced earnings. This shows that even in situations where there is a flexible arrangement available there is still the problem of gender indifferences ad it seems that Ireland still falls behind when recognizing women's double burden as care provider at home and as a paid employee.

One major issue that has to be addressed is that of gender inequalities that are seen throughout the distribution of flexible working hours and how, despite social and political advances, women are still seen as the carers and men as the main 'breadwinner'. As (Russell et al 2009) explains "the fact that more women are involved in family-friendly arrangements, particularly part-time work, may serve to exacerbate the longer-term negative effects of participation in family-friendly arrangements". Even with women now taking up some of the more senior roles in companies it seems that the emphasis will always be on them to take the flexible options. This unfairly puts women in a situation where realistically they will be overlooked for promotion to those who is seen as a constant present in the company and we are well aware that "The ideal worker has long been assumed to be one who can prioritize paid work above all other activities"( Rapoport et al. 2002). It's clear that women will find the work-life balance harder to juggle than most men due to the culture putting the sole burden of care for the home squarely on their shoulders. Flexible options for women in some cases could be seen as killing careers with kindness and will continue until the ancient foundation of Irish cooperate politics is uprooted.

We have already established that Ireland operates under a largely informal system when it comes to flexible work initiatives.(Barry and Vasquez Del Aguila 2009) explains that this has led to Individual women and men being left without key entitlements like parental leave which has not been established on a fully paid basis or completely ignored like paternity leave. This undermines people's attempts to create a greater work-life balance for them and also contributes to the problem of gender inequalities that are still present in the household and more alarmingly the labour market. According to Barry and Vasquez del Aguila There needs to be "Broader policies to support women's paid employment during childrearing years are critical (leave entitlements, family friendly and flexible workplace policies) which are framed within a legal and institutional system which provide for security of employment" (p18). According to Lingle (2005) "achieving workplace flexibility is the most difficult task the work life professional engages in, and success often requires an organization to reinvent its culture".

(Lewis et al 2007) also brings to light that there is a critical flaw in the effectiveness of flexible working schedules in balancing the relationship between work and home. (Lewis et al 2007) also feels that those flexible options do indeed give us greater choice in choosing our work and non-work commitments but this does nothing to eradicate the underlying problems that are present. "It is seen as a quick-fix solution that understands there is more to life than work but this emphasises human agency and fails to take into account the structural, practical and cultural constraints that bind the individual"(p65).

One important area that can help answer the question is flexible work really the solution to the work-life balance is by analysing people who work from the home. In Ireland only around 7.6% of people work from home in some capacity (Eurostat 2010) but this still quite high in comparison to the European average of 4.8%. (Russell et al 2009) explains that "while working from home may reduce time pressures by cutting commuting time and leaving more time for family life and other activities, it can also have a negative impact on work-life balance"(p). He continues by revealing that a lot of people who work from home feel that work intrudes on their personal lives and that they can't 'leave work at work'. Working from home is quite difficult to juggle as on the one hand you are reliving pressure from work but gaining it at home so work becomes a 24 hour shift and "Home working therefore appears to exacerbate tensions between work and family life rather than resolving them"(p).

(Russell et al 2009) tells us that they are many areas that people may dismiss while looking at the work-life balance situation and warns us that "we do not consider whether participation in these flexible working arrangement effects working conditions such as pay, promotion opportunities or job satisfaction and employee commitment"(p81). These are major barriers to employees not undertaking flexible schedules and obviously there is still a corporate culture in place that expects job first and home-life second. It may be down to the area of work in the economy as companies in the services sector reported the highest use of flexible working practices (41.7%), while those working in the manufacturing sector were least likely to use these arrangements (Equality Authority 2008).

Although it is crucial to point out that there is more to life than work and that they will always have a close and complicated relationship. But it's hard to justify the overall significance of just flexibility in changing someone's work life balance although it clearly can be very effective In certain situations, more importantly it seems is the underlying problems that already exist within the family and indeed the wider cultural scope. (Lewis et al 2007) "explains that Raising awareness of the bigger issues involved in the current 'work-life' dilemma may be one strategy for shifting thinking about these issues"(p370). Personally I feel that the Work-life balance is as important to the employing organisation as it is for the individual employee. If you treasure the individual's perspective throughout the whole workforce collectively then it will result in a massive impact on the financial performance of the company. A highly motivated workforce will be more productive if the employing organisation provides the required assistance with the 'juggling act' that is the work-life balance. By promoting a proactive system where flexible options are supported then the company may realise that the most important commodity in business is the human resource and they are the key to getting us out of this harsh economic climate.

Overall it seems just as easy to dismiss the work-life balance as a social construct that has been invented for the changing time but it's clear from research that flexible working arranges do have some impact on this balance and their confusing and fractured relationship will continue to be in the spotlight for generations to come.

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Custom Emerging Issues in Theory and Research on Electronic Human Resource Management essay paper

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The purpose of the article uncovers the three traits of human resource management. The very first one addresses the theory improvements and deeper investigation of the management sphere towards the electronic control and organization of any business process. The second trait reveals the essence of any further research that the top management companies consider of the most importance in order to achieve success in the field of managing people in any organization. The third trait recognizes the process and organization of the workflow and its effectiveness in the organizational environment (Stonea & Dulebohn, 2012).

  • The importance of the information technologies and their input in the organization of a convenient resource management process;
  • The comparison of human resource management systems theory and contemporary electronic HRM practice since beginning till today;
  • Evolution and adoption of the approaches used by the management of an organization’s workforce to various means of electronic information technologies and their system to perform a wide range of manipulations with the information;
  • The transition from the standard HRM practice to the enhanced electronic system of information and people management;
  • Medium and application research based on the human resource’s controlling and organization performance;
  • Special issue articles review based on the HRMS and eHRM towards the strategy, effectiveness, classifications, information technologies, security and many other related aspects of people and information management.

The integration of the HRM approaches has a significant impact on the practice of electronic application of the overall system of management. The core concepts that could be considered of main importance are the elements of the human resources that control effectiveness on the workplace. The indicated system works to improve the daily operations in terms of expenses, managerial inconveniences on the job, sufficient planning techniques, and strategy implications that support the whole set of HRM activities. These systems were greatly applied in the article for the purpose of the eHRM system (Stonea & Dulebohn, 2012).

The limitations of the article are hard to contemplate since all the factors of an effective human resource management practice have been covered in full. The only difference could be the need to provide more examples of the real-life cases of businesses where such HRM models have been used. In addition, it would also be useful if the author have provided the direct illustration of all the implemented approaches of the former HRM system as well as the contemporary eHRM system (Stonea & Dulebohn, 2012).

The most relevant factors are those that consider any further investigation of the possible application of all the HRM approaches in real scenarios. At the same time, it would be beneficial to have the direct comparison of the theoretical background and business environment in relation to the decent system of people and information management. Another relevant aspect of the article is that it addresses numerous special issue aspects. This provides the broader view for the reader regarding the human resource management sphere. The vast majority of companies would be more grateful in case the author gives more examples to the solutions of the modern organizations human resource management, especially how such problems could be managed with the help of the electronic human resource management system (Stonea & Dulebohn, 2012).

In all, the key aspect in hiring people lies in the thorough human resource management practice. With this, application of management in all meanings is the act of gathering persons in order to manage the daily-required tasks and reach the desired goals on the road to mission, vision and objectives of any organization. Managing people in a business and organizational setting could be positive only if the manager tends to use all the available resources both efficiently and effectively in the frames of planning, organization, staff management and leadership skills used to direct people as well as control the external and internal operations within any business environment.

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