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Employee management systems and organizational contexts: a population ecology approach

Timothy Bartram (School of Management, Faculty of Law and Management, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia)

Management Research Review

ISSN: 2040-8269

Article publication date: 24 May 2011




The aim of this paper is to construct a theoretical model of the characteristics and determinants of employee management configurations, simple management, personnel management and human resource management (HRM).


This paper builds upon work in HRM by integrating critical management, population ecology and industrial relations to develop a conceptual framework of the character of employee management and its determinants.


This framework represents an important step forward in thinking about the determinants and character of employee management systems.

Practical implications

A typology of six employee management configurations is established in both union and non‐unionised contexts. The paper critiques the universalistic approach to HRM. This paper offers an insight into the rationale of employee management techniques and its determinants.


Within the normative HRM literature there has been little discussion of the role of context in influencing the character of HRM or employee management generally. The paper seeks to explore, using population ecology theory, how context influences the characteristics of employee management.



Bartram, T. (2011), "Employee management systems and organizational contexts: a population ecology approach", Management Research Review, Vol. 34 No. 6, pp. 663-677.



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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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