Attempts to use WIRS 3 data to assess the impact of HRM and specialist personnel management have produced implausible, inconclusive and contradictory results–demonstrating the severe limitations of the new macro-survey approach to industrial relations research. Yet macro-surveys threaten to become the dominant methodology. Imaginative insights, with practical implications, will not be achieved in this way. A major reorientation of research effort is needed before it is too late. Given its long tradition, of attempting to be both original and useful, British IR research deserves something better.