Structural spoilers or structural supports? Unionism and the strategic integration of HR functions
Vernon, G. and Brewster, C. (2013) Structural spoilers or structural supports? Unionism and the strategic integration of HR functions. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 24 (6). pp. 1113-1129. ISSN 1466-4399
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1080/09585192.2012.703416
The strategic integration of the human resource (HR) function is regarded as crucial in the literature on (strategic) human resource management ((S)HRM). Evidence on the contextual or structural influences on this integration is, however, limited. The structural implications of unionism are particularly intriguing given the evolution of study of the employment relationship. Pluralism is typically seen as antithetical to SHRM, and unions as an impediment to the strategic integration of HR functions, but there are also suggestions in the literature that unionism might facilitate the strategic integration of HR. This paper deploys large-scale international survey evidence to examine the organization-level influence of unionism on this strategic integration, allowing for other established and plausible influences. The analysis reveals that exceptionally, where the organization-level role of unions is particularly contested, unionism does impede the strategic integration of HR. However, it is the predominance of the facilitation of the strategic integration of HR by unionism which is most remarkable.