Many managers complain that the HR department prevents them from doing what they want, such as hiring someone they ‘just know‘ is a good fit for the job. And HR professionals make them perform tasks they dislike, such as ‘playing God’, when appraising their employees’ performance. These complaints from line managers have a cyclical quality – they are driven largely by the business context. When organizations are experiencing labour problems, whether those are skill shortages, high turnover or low productivity, HR is usually seen as a valued leadership partner. When things are running efficiently, managers tend to think, ‘What’s HR doing for us, anyway?’ (Cappelli, 2015, p. 54) introduction The contemporary workplace is constantly changing against a backdrop of post-2008 economic austerity that has now reached the proportions of the Great Depression of the 1920s. The changes relate, although not exclusively, to the rise in zero-hour contracts (Brinkley, 2013), the increase of precarious work and insecurity (Standing, 2011), organizational downsizing (Datta et al., 2010), low wages (Flassbeck and Lapavitsas, 2015), the emasculation of trade union power (Hutton, 2015a) and extreme inequality in income (Stiglitz, 2015). Analyses of these labour market changes driven by neo-liberal economics vary significantly between developed capitalist countries.
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