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Context matters: Examining 'soft' and 'hard' approaches to employee engagement in two workplaces

Jenkins, Sarah Louise ORCID: and Delbridge, Rick ORCID: 2013. Context matters: Examining 'soft' and 'hard' approaches to employee engagement in two workplaces. The International Journal of Human Resource Management 24 (14) , pp. 2670-2691. 10.1080/09585192.2013.770780

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This paper reports different managerial approaches to engaging employees in two contrasting organizations. We categorize these approaches to employee engagement as ‘hard’ and ‘soft’, and examine how these reflect the different external contexts in which management operate and, in particular, their influence on management's ability to promote a supportive internal context. The paper extends the existing literature on the antecedents of engagement by illustrating the importance of combining practitioner concerns about the role and practice of managers with the insights derived from the psychological literature relating to job features. We build from these two approaches to include important features of organizational context to examine the tensions and constraints management encounter in promoting engagement. Our analysis draws on the critical organizational and HRM literature to make a contribution to understanding different applications of employee engagement within organizations. In so doing, we outline a situated and critical reading of organizations to better appreciate that management practices are complex, contested, emergent, locally enacted and context specific, and thereby provide new insights into the inherent challenges of delivering engaged employees.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Uncontrolled Keywords: contextual contingencies, critical HRM, drivers of engagement, employee engagement, ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ management approaches to engagement
Publisher: Routledge
ISSN: 0958-5192
Funders: ESRC
Last Modified: 10 Nov 2022 13:37

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