Ethics and HRM: A Review and Conceptual Analysis
- Cite this article as:
- Greenwood, M.R. Journal of Business Ethics (2002) 36: 261. doi:10.1023/A:1014090411946
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This paper reviews and develops the ethical analysis of human resource management (HRM). Initially, the ethical perspective of HRM is differentiated from the "mainstrea" and critical perspectives of HRM. To date, the ethical analysis of HRM has taken one of two forms: the application Kantian and utilitarian ethical theories to the gestalt of HRM, and the application of theories of justice and fairness to specific HRM practices. This paper is concerned with the former, the ethical analysis of HRM in its entirety. It shows that numerous theoretical shortcomings exist, least of which is the disregard of stakeholder theory. These deficiencies are explored and, as such, the analysis is advanced. It is argued that such ethical analysis is outside the scope of the modern corporation. A third way in which ethics may be applied to HRM is suggested. Ethical concerns are used as a basis to develop minimum standards against which HRM, in its various guises and practice, may be evaluated. Yet, even when judged by these standards, HRM is seriously lacking. This begs the question, not of whether HRM is ethical, but of whether HRM can be ethical.