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HR and the law: a comparative study into the influence of institutional logics on HR practitioner approach to employment laws in the UK and Australia

Young, Clare (2019) HR and the law: a comparative study into the influence of institutional logics on HR practitioner approach to employment laws in the UK and Australia. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

This study examines how HR practitioners in the UK and Australia make sense of and approach employment laws in private sector organisations. The current HRM literature suggests that all HR practitioners and organisations respond to and comply with employment laws in the same way, and that compliance is straightforward and necessary to secure organisational and social legitimacy. However, despite the well-recognised tension between social legitimacy and the demand for managerial autonomy and flexibility, the approach taken by HR practitioners to employment laws has not been empirically explored. Through semi-structured interviews with HR practitioners and specialist employment lawyers this qualitative study addresses that gap. The institutional logics perspective is combined with sensemaking theory to comparatively examine contextual influences at the micro-level of HR practice. Contrary to the assumptions in the HRM literature, the findings reveal that HR practitioners in both the UK and Australia have to contend with institutional complexity and balance the goals and values of different institutional logics when approaching employment laws. In both countries HR practitioners had to balance legislative requirements (state-based logic) with business goals and demands from management (corporate-based logic). This thesis argues that this balance is achieved differently by HR practitioners in the two countries and is connected to the multi-level and interrelated ‘constellations of logics’ drawn on by the participants. For UK participants, the corporate logic and demands from senior management appeared to dominate and shape how they identified, interpreted employment laws and the action then taken. In contrast, the Australian institutional environment appeared more diverse, better enabling HR practitioners to mount effective arguments for compliance. The findings emphasise how HR practitioners are embedded in organisations and the wider institutional context, and also how the dominance of a corporate logic can effectively stymie compliance with employment laws.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > The York Management School
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.805462
Depositing User: Ms Clare Young
Date Deposited: 14 May 2020 22:46
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2020 09:53
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/25920

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