Historical Social Research

Julia Brandl, Arjan Kozica, Katharina Pernkopf & Anna Schneider: Flexible Work Practices: Analysis from a Pragmatist Perspective. [Abstract]

Traditional human resource management (HRM) research can hardly relate to today's developments in the world of work. Organizational boundaries are blurred because of the complexity due to globalization, digitalization, and demographic changes. In practice, new ways of organizing work can be found that depend on the specifics of the work situation. In this paper, we build on the economics of convention (EC) to elaborate on the current challenges HRM scholarship is confronted with and provide a theoretical lens that goes beyond the tension between market and bureaucracy principles in actual employment settings. We apply EC’s situationalist methodology to examples of the challenging coordination of flexibility in the workplace. We explain two hybrid forms of coordination – compromises and local arrangements – and highlight the dynamics of employment practices in organizations related to these forms. Thereby, we show that different modes of coordination in employment are applied in a fluctuating manner that depends on the specific situations. In doing so, we further seek to remind HRM scholars of the fruitfulness of the pragmatist perspective in analyzing work practices, as well as extending its conceptual toolkit for future analysis.

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