Human resource management: a complexity perspective

Catherine Truss, Jas Gill

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


In this paper, we present preliminary findings from an empirical study that seeks to address the question of how HRM can contribute to organisational success by adopting a complexity theory approach. By viewing organisations as non-linear systems, focusing on interconnections between points in the system, and stressing the importance of network nodes in mediating organisational outcomes, complexity theory suggests, at a conceptual level, that the significance of HRM may lie more in processes than in policies or strategies.

In our research, we take three pairs of organisations in the public sector, matched as closely as possible for task and size (two Metropolitan Police Boroughs, two Local Authorities, and two NHS Trusts), and use the lens of complexity theory to explore the processes by which HR departments contribute to a major organisational change initiative. By shifting the focus of attention away from HR’s contribution to performance at an aggregate level, towards a more finely-grained analysis focusing specifically on the processes adopted by HR in helping to achieve organisational objectives, it is hoped that this study will contribute significantly to the HRM literature, as well as to the literature on complexity theory and organisations. In this paper, we present preliminary findings from the first stage of two of the case studies.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages33
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2004
Externally publishedYes
Event Organisations, Innovation and Complexity Conference 2004: New Perspectives on the Knowledge Economy - Manchester University, Manchester, United Kingdom
Duration: 9 Sept 200410 Sept 2004


Conference Organisations, Innovation and Complexity Conference 2004
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

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