Illuminating the Relationship Between Line Managers and HR Professionsals A Social Exchange Perspective
Power, Jamie R and Milner, Brigid and Garavan, T (2008) Illuminating the Relationship Between Line Managers and HR Professionals A Social Exchange Perspective. In: IAM Conference, September 3rd - 5th, Dublin.
Cognisant of the importance of organisational relationships, Krackhardt & Hanson (1993:104) assert that despite formal structures, much of the work within them is facilitated by the “…networks of relationships that employees form across functions and divisions to accomplish tasks”. The impetus for line manager-HR professional the relationship is rooted in the integrative HRM models proffered by Guest (1987), Storey (1992) and Ulrich (1998). The literature on the involvement of line managers in HRM identifies both collaborative and, at times, uncooperative relational dynamics between line managers and HR professionals in terms of their preparation for, and the delivery of, HRM. In building a case for illuminating the line manager-HR professional relationship, calls in the literature highlight that a paucity of attention has been placed on identifying the operationalisation and social dynamics of line-HR professional collaboration. Consequently, the theory of social exchange may have particular utility “…to penetrate beneath the veneer of formal institutions, groups, and goals, down to the relational subtract” (Padgett & Ansell, 1993:1259), serving to explore the underpinning relationship between collaborating individuals. The objective of this paper, therefore, is to illuminate understanding of the cross-functional line-HR relationship as previously presented by the authors (Power, Garavan, & Milner, 2007), through an emerging social exchange lens. In pursuit of this, a conceptual framework is developed in conjunction to a case study research design operationalisation offered, incorporating the deployment of a social penetration focus (Altman & Taylor, 1973), linking the collective social exchange theory to an individual-level of focus towards the sense-making processes (Weick, 1995), of line manager and HR professional exchange actors.