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HRM Contribution to Organisations and Society

 Understand the basics of HRM, its function, and role (textbook, ch. 1)
 Analyse, critically discuss, and contrast two theoretical concepts – HRM and Ethics
 Explain the contribution of HRM (ch.1) and Ethics (ch. 15) to human beings, organisations, and
society at large
 Describe “one” of the various ways and practical implications of ethics for HRM
 Develop analytical, critical, and communication skills appropriate for participating in an
organisational, industrial, and national environment shaped by HRM and Ethics
Details: The Ethics of Human Resource Management
Your textbook (Kramar et al. 2011, p. 4) defines HRM in the following way “HRM refers to the policies
and systems that influence employee’s behaviours, attitudes, and performance. Many refer to HRM
as ‘people management. To achieve effective outcomes in terms of individual and ultimately
organisational performance, these practices need to be linked with organisational goals, or
organisational strategy. This is achieved through HR practices that consistently influence employee
attitudes and behaviour so as to achieve organisational goals”.

Chapter 15 of your textbook is about “Ethics and HRM” (p. 544-546). Your textbook (Kramar et al.
2011:542) notes “in many ways, HR professionals are now expected to o act as ethical stewards, or the
‘conscious’ of organisations’. In other words, modern HRM professionals are requested to “advocate
improvements to practice” (learning outcome no. 3) on the grounds of ethical awareness, knowledge
of ethical theories, and their application to HRM practices. This demands that today’s HR managers
are able to have a good, comprehensive, and critical understanding of ethics and to use their
knowledge to “advocate improvements to the practice” of HRM.
To achieve a comprehensive understanding and to develop the ability to “advocate improvements to
the practice” of HRM, your essay question (see below) relates ‘Ethics and HRM’ as outlined in chapter
15 of your textbook by focusing on “four” [4] key ethical theories (see also: Klikauer 2010: Kant: p. 68-
87; Consequentialism: p. 47-67; virtue ethics: p. 25-46; justice: 148-169).
In summary form, these four versions of ethics argue:
1 Kantian Ethics: act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or
in the person of any other, always at the same time as an end and never
merely as a means to an end
2 Consequentalism
Utilitarianism
“the greatest pleasure for the greatest number.” (Bentham)
“people can do anything they like as long as it does not harm others”
(Mills)200718 Human Resource Management, Quarter 4 2011
Section 2
11
3 Virtue Ethics Eudaimonia (εὐδαιμονία) is a state variously translated from Greek as
‘well-being’, ‘happiness’, ‘blessedness’, and in the context of virtue ethics,
‘human flourishing’ (Aristotle).
4 Justice Ethics Distributive justice concerns what is socially just with respect to the
allocation of goods, such as wages, for example (Rawls)
In your essay, select “one” of the four ethical theories outlines above and below [1-4] and critically
discuss (for & against) the following statement: “HRM is unethical because…”
1 HRM treats people as a means, a tool, an instrument, a devise, a
resource and NOT as a human being and person ‘in-itself’ (Kant)
Kantian Ethics:
2 HRM does not bring any pleasure to any number of people at work,
instead it forces people into a managerial regime by manipulating
human behaviour in organisational behaviour geared toward the bottom
line;
Does harm people (failure to gain employment, low pay grades,
alienating work designs (ch. 6), failure to prevent bullying at work, sexual
harassment, etc., disciplinary actions, dismissals, etc.)
Consequentalism
Utilitarianism
3 HRM is not interested in ‘well-being’, ‘happiness’, ‘blessedness’, and
‘human flourishing. Instead it prevents this. There is no term such as
organisational happiness. While virtue ethics focuses on the moral
character, character-building is not part of HRM’s Learning and
Development” (textbook, ch. 11)
Aristotle
Virtue Ethics
4 HRM violates distributive justice because the pay-gap between men and
women, for example, continues to remain socially unjust.
Justice Ethics
Rawls
INITIAL SOURCE:
Kramar, R., Bartram, T. & De Cieri, H. (2011) Human Resource Management in Australia- Strategy,
People, Performance (4th ed.), Sydney: McGraw-Hill (chapters 1 and 5).
Klikauer, T. 2010. Critical Management Ethics, Basingstoke (UK): Palgrave.

ADDITIONAL SOURCES:
Check e-resources listed in this unit outline and available through the UWS Library portal.
ESSAY REQUIREMENTS 200718 Human Resource Management, Quarter 4 2011
Section 2
12
The essay should answer the question using a clear structure (introduction, body and conclusion and
no dot points), split into the size of roughly ¼ for introduction, ½ for main body, and ¼ for conclusion.
It must demonstrate evidence of wide reading – a minimum of ten (10) academic references are
required. Note that most Internet sites are popular references, not academic references. However, the
use of online academic journals contained in the e-collections of the UWS Library web-site is
acceptable, and indeed, encouraged.
The essay must use the Harvard system of referencing to indicate all sources of information and
include an alphabetised reference list of those sources cited in the essay.
Do NOT use Wikipedia as a source for any work undertaken in this unit. Citation of this source will be
penalised by way of a loss of marks or more severe penalty.
Students should refer to the additional resources available at: the HRM vUWS web site.
Students must use Human Resource Management Individual Written Paper/ Individual Essay Marking Guide in this learning guide to self-evaluate their case study prior to its submission

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