Critical and prescriptive evaluation of human resource management (HRM) tells us little about the direction in which its practice and rationale purport to push management. Contends that the prevailing course of HRM ventures to make management more entrepreneurial. Distinguishes between the spirit and substance of HRM. The former propagates “empowering” employees and line managers to square the circle of increased competition, improved efficiency/productivity and financial stringency. The substance of HRM involves a reconfiguration of existing management structures in an effort to re‐create an entrepreneurial philosophy in management practice. First distinguishes entrepreneurship from traditionally defined management. Second, locates disparate HRM initiatives as entrepreneurial. Finally examines tensions between the two forms of management by reference to contemporary sources. In conclusion seeks to demonstrate that substance makes spirit a utopian vision, at least in the UK context.
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