The prospects for devolving HR activities to the line are examined in this article. Evidence drawn from a wider study of HRM in practice suggests that, while line manager involvement is possible, their practices tend to be inconsistent in implementation and uneven in quality. A number of constraints on line management practice were identified. First, there is limited reinforcement of practice through institutional forces. Secondly, the short‐term nature of managerial activity means that a greater priority is placed on the achievement of the numbers rather than the achievement of numbers through people. Finally, downsizing and delayering place tremendous pressures on the time which line managers could allow for people matters generally. These findings challenge much of the rhetoric associated with the idea of giving HRM back to the line by arguing that the quality of line management practice may distort the overall impact of HR policies.
Human Resource Management Journal – Wiley
Published: Jul 1, 1997
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