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Against paternalism in Human Resource Management

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The paper presents an evaluation of the paternalistic model of HRM. The analysis reveals that this conception of the employment relationship is deeply flawed and does not provide a morally acceptable approach towards responsible citizens in a democratic society. Moreover, where the employment relationship is based upon managerial hegemony and secrecy, the danger is that this can become institutionalized as a corporate morality that brings about the unintended consequences of moral indifference and unjust conduct towards employees and other stakeholders. The conclusion of this evaluation is that a wise management will try to open up its decision‐making processes and seek the participation of a wide range of stakeholders in the determination of the economic and social purpose of the company. There is another option: the employment relationship can be informed by a communitarian perspective, which aims to strike a balance between the economic interests of employers and employees, and the need for justice to foster mutual cooperation in the pursuit of a common purpose. This conception of the employment relationship will be outlined here as HRM in the ‘community of purpose’.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Business Studies at the Manchester Metropolitan University

Publication date: January 1, 1999


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