Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: The reality of a 'High Performance Work System' : internal and external vulnerabilities
Author: Cook, Hugh Stephen Thomas
ISNI:       0000 0004 2744 4912
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2012
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
This thesis contributes to knowledge and understanding about the implementation of systems of Human Resource Management. It does this through intensive case based research at Ultico, the largest private sector employer in the UK and the leading UK food retail establishment. Much literature exists on HRM systems and their relationship with performance, yet significantly less has addressed the complex internal social processes associated with their implementation. Similarly, while research has considered the importance of the external context on HRM, little has addressed the processes through which this effect takes place. Internal tensions and contradictions are found, resulting from variable implementation of HRM systems by line managers, who lack skills in HRM delivery and struggle to deliver practices alongside operational duties. Furthermore, transparency and trust are eroded by senior managers manipulating HRM practices to increase profits and achieve monitored targets. The Retail Colleague‟s Union (RCU) interacts internally with Ultico‟s HRM strategy and through the vehicle of social partnership, maintains a degree of influence over HRM implementation, enabling mitigation of the negative impacts of variable implementation by management. However this influence is limited. Finally the processes through which external economic fluctuations impact on HRM systems are uncovered, in terms of management capitalising on changes to the labour market to increase profit per employee. Taken together these findings expose vulnerabilities, both internal and external, of HRM systems to losing their soft outcomes because they are derailed by management seeking to increase profits. The thesis demonstrates the channels through which HRM systems are used to improve profitability, which is typically through work intensification, by illuminating the complex social processes through which this is achieved.
Supervisor: Forde, C. ; MacKenzie, R. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available