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Title: Ethically challenging situations in UK based independent human resources consultancies : a study into professional practice by a practioner researcher identifying what challenges are faced, how they are dealt with and including recommendations for improving practice
Author: Manby, Karen
ISNI:       0000 0004 2736 5501
Awarding Body: London Metropolitan University
Current Institution: London Metropolitan University
Date of Award: 2012
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This study examines ethically challenging situations in independent human resource consultancy practice in the UK. The study identifies the issues consultants face and how they are resolving them. The analysis of consultant responses in the context of the literature on ethics leads to a series of recommendations for future professional practice. Despite the experience of the practitioner researcher and the common narratives of many other consultants, no previous studies in this area were found. Whilst there is a vast amount of writing on business ethics generally, there exists a gap, recognised in the literature, between ethical theory and practice. This research builds upon previous conceptual and empirical studies which are starting to address this and makes a contribution to new knowledge. As a qualitative study, the research focuses on semi-structured interviews with twenty human '\ resource consultants and the critical reflections of the practitioner researcher. There is a detailed analysis of the data leading to the identification of themes in the range of responses given. The key contribution to knowledge includes a categorisation of situations and resolutions using a three-fold framework highlighting problems arising from the specific nature of the work. Common examples of problems and best practice solutions in current literature are examined, with this study extending to examine what happens in practice when these are inadequate. The study finds that dilemmas and decision making can centre on the balance between "human" and "resources", the ambiguous nature of the consultancy relationship, managing at times when trust has yet to be established or when there is confusion related to personal and professional identity. Finally, independent consultants acknowledge the part that the need to earn income plays and how they manage decision making in their role outside of a corporate organisation. Philosophical theories are helpful in drawing attention to the agentic character of consultants who use practical wisdom based on common sense reasoning when facing dilemmas. Theories are potentially unhelpful when there is too narrow a focus on either deontological or teleological perspectives. Consultants look at decision making from both perspectives; frequently referring to rules to guide practice before determining action based on an assessment as to the overall "good". Recommendations for future practice are made specific to the nature of the role and include highlighting industry codes, the need for personal codes of ethics, the need for critical reflection and the formalisation of support from trusted relationships.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D. Prof.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available