E-HR and international HRM: a critical perspective on the discursive framing of e-HR

Helen Francis, Carole Parkes, Martin Reddington

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issuepeer-review


In the current global economic climate, international HRM is facing unprecedented pressure to become more innovative, effective and efficient. New discourses are emerging around the application of information technology, with 'e-HR' (electronic-enablement of Human Resources), self-service portals and promises of improved services couched as various HR 'value propositions'. This study explores these issues through our engagement with the emergent stream of 'critical' HRM, the broader study of organizational discourse and ethical management theories. We have found that while there is growing research into the take-up of e-HR applications, there is a dearth of investigation into the impact of e-HR on the people involved; in particular, the (re)structuring of social relations between HR functions and line managers in the move away from face-to-face HR support services, to more technology-mediated 'self-service' relationships. We undertake a close reading of personal narratives from a multinational organization, deploying a critical discourse lens to examine different dimensions of e-HR and raise questions about the strong technocratic framing of the international language of people management, shaping line manager enactment of e-HR duties. We argue for a more reflexive stance in the conceptualization e-HR, and conclude with a discussion about the theoretical and practical implications of our study, limitations and suggestions for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1327-1350
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
Issue number10
Early online date8 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2014


  • critical discourse analysis
  • ethics
  • innovation
  • language
  • relationships and IHRM
  • voice


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