Against paternalism in Human Resource Management



The paper presents an evaluation of the paternalistic model of HRM. The analysis reveals that this conception of the employment relationship is deeply flawed and does not provide a morally acceptable approach towards responsible citizens in a democratic society. Moreover, where the employment relationship is based upon managerial hegemony and secrecy, the danger is that this can become institutionalized as a corporate morality that brings about the unintended consequences of moral indifference and unjust conduct towards employees and other stakeholders. The conclusion of this evaluation is that a wise management will try to open up its decision-making processes and seek the participation of a wide range of stakeholders in the determination of the economic and social purpose of the company. There is another option: the employment relationship can be informed by a communitarian perspective, which aims to strike a balance between the economic interests of employers and employees, and the need for justice to foster mutual cooperation in the pursuit of a common purpose. This conception of the employment relationship will be outlined here as HRM in the ‘community of purpose’.