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Is HRM catching on?

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The nature, and extent, of change in the way people are managed at work continues to provoke much controversy. How new are the initiatives which are being launched? What kind of “transformation” are they capable of bringing about? Is the human resource management (HRM) phenomenon only a conceptual game played by academics or is there evidence of actual change of this kind in real places of work and involving real people? These are the kinds of questions which are addressed in this article. In order to furnish practical answers, evidence is called forth from two extensive programmes of research. The first of these was conducted in the late 1980s at the University of Warwick (Storey, 1992) and the second, covering the period 1992-94, has just been completed at the University of Loughborough (Grant Report, 1995; Storey and Bacon, 1993). This article has three sections. In the first, a summary of the Warwick study is made. In the second, the findings are brought up to date with a report on the Loughborough study. Third and finally, some concluding observations are made about the trends suggested by these two studies.

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