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Capturing complexity: developing an integrated approach to analysing HRM in SMEs

Harney, Brian and Dundon, Tony (2006) Capturing complexity: developing an integrated approach to analysing HRM in SMEs. Human Resource Management Journal, 16 (1). pp. 48-73. ISSN 1748-8583

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This article presents a framework to evaluate HRM in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), using an open systems theoretical perspective. In presenting an open systems perspective the objective is to overcome the limitations of existing theorising in HRM, in particular to facilitate a move away from the ‘small is beautiful’ versus ‘bleak house’ stereotypes evident in much of the literature concerned with HRM in SMEs. The evidence is drawn from six SMEs operating in the Republic of Ireland, using a case study method. The findings show that a complex interplay of external structural factors and internal dynamics shaped HRM in each of the companies. HRM was not the coherent set of practices typically identified in the literature but rather was often informal and emergent. It is argued that the open systems theoretical framework enables a move beyond mere recognition of the complexity and heterogeneity of HRM in SMEs, towards an understanding, accommodation and explanation of particularistic factors.

Item Type:Article (Published)
Uncontrolled Keywords:human resource management; open systems theory; small-to-medium sized-enterprises; complexity; contingency theory;
Subjects:Business > Personnel management
DCU Faculties and Centres:DCU Faculties and Schools > DCU Business School
Publisher:Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Official URL:
Copyright Information:© 2006 The Authors
Use License:This item is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License. View License
ID Code:14937
Deposited On:03 Nov 2009 10:11 by Brian Harney. Last Modified 03 Nov 2009 10:11

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