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Describe the role and responsibility of HR an organisation.

The Variations of HR Depending on Organization Size, Industry, Sector, and Location

HR is required in all organisations that employ people however, HR can diver vastly between organisations, although every organisation regardless of size, industry or location will work to the same core principles and legislation, their approach will be very different.  Some organisations will be renowned for having lots of HR issues i.e. organisations with big turnover however banking for example maybe more stable and as a result have fewer HR issues.  

For example, HR will look different within all the following sectors

Multi-National Limited Business Small/ Private Companies

Public Sector Military of Defence   Government Organisations

Public regimented – private not bound by government

Large, multinational and public-sector organisations are likely to have structured policies and procedures and as a result takes longer to come to decisions than smaller, private companies will have the flexibility in their processes thus allowing them to come to decisions quicker, allowing them to act on changes.

As well as sector, other reasons which make HR look different including

  • Size
  • Type
  • Management
  • Location
  • Multi-sited organisations across the UK
  • International organisations
  • Industry

Let’s take the Armed Forces for example; their HR will be very structured and regimented. The HR model within the Armed Forces, is likely to be a pyramid structure, this is very common within large organisations.

The pyramid model is a very different structure to HR within a small business who may have HR as a stand-alone role or an independent, external HR consultant.

If we look at a multi-sited organisation such as Sainsbury’s, they are likely to have a centralised function in head office who will manage HR throughout the organisation, implementing policies, procedures and deciding how HR looks through the entire organisation and individual site will have an employee responsible for HR within that site.

There are numerous HR set-up’s including both specialist and generalists; generalists are responsible for all areas of HR whereas specialists have an area of expertise and are responsible for one area such as;

  • Recruitment and Selection
  • Absence Management
  • Training and Development
  • Reward and Benefits
  • Employee Relations

Thus, large organisations can have several specialists that make up their HR function.  

Over the years HR has changed and adapted significantly, historically Human Resources was referred to as Personnel and was very administration based. In the late 80’s, early 90’s HR matured and became more policy and procedures based, today HR as well as the above has a heavy focus on engagement and performance. Organisations are not legally required to focus on these areas however it can help an organisation stand out from its competitors and makes them a better place for people to work. Society has changed and there is now a strong ethos of looking after people in the workplace and as result organisations have much more of a people culture now.  

The Evolution of HR from an Administrative Function to a People-Centered Function

Regardless of the Organisation, today HR needs to be ethical and have strong sense of responsibility to its people. The HR department has a responsibility to deal with issues correctly, consistently, fairly and they be accountable for their actions and decisions.

Management also impacts how HR looks within an organisation, Organisation’s that have strong leadership and manage people manage well will look differently to organisations that have managers with poor leadership skills.

Other things that can influence how HR looks within organisations include;

  • Legislation e.g. GDPR
  • Case Law
  • Management structure
  • Society changes e.g. family friendly/ women back to work – more supported – financial environment

Organisations need to be aware of the internal and external factors which impact their business.

Analysing these factors allows HR and senior managers to gain an insight into the influences and risks which may impact their industry and organisation, the knowledge gained from analysing these factors can then be considered when making business decisions and strategies.  

The importance of considering the internal and external factors is imperative when considering plans for change, it helps to identify and highlight the potential for additional costs and can prompt research into future plans (Tran & Tian 2013).

There are various methods that can be used to analyse a business – the three models of analysis the report will confer are;

  1. SWOT
  3. Porters Five Forces
    Pestle being an acronym for;


A PESTLE analysis is used to explain external factors influencing the business of an organisation and what impact these forces this will have on the business. PESTLE is aimed at determining how an organisation is affected by six external forces and what impact each of these have on the business.

The external forces are; political, economic, social, technological, legal and environmental.

Political: Political represents the political factors that can affect a business, there are several aspects of government policy that can affect how a business operates and this can directly impact on the overall profit of a business. Brexit for example will impact both an organisations current work force and how employees are recruited going forward. Workers from overseas may not be eligible to stay within the UK and  going forward recruitment may not be easy if free movement within Europe is not granted  - this would mean European Union migrants will have to follow the same procedures as individuals from outside of EU if they want to work in with UK – this process can be lengthy and will require individuals to apply for work permits and VISA’s resulting in increased administration costs. The result of this could be skills shortages within certain industries.

The Importance of Ethical and Responsible HR Practices

Economic Factors:  These factors include all elements of the economy and their condition. For example, this includes Unemployment rates, interest rates, government policy and taxes, availability of credit, consumer growth rates, disposable income, economic trends, seasonal factors, exchange rates, interest rates Businesses need to analyse these factors based on the environment and build in strategies that fall in place with the changes. Understanding these changes will enable organisations to understand, what economic factors will affect them moving forward. It will also enable them to understand how their pricing, revenues, and costs are impacted by each economic factor.

Social Factors: Every country is different, and each have unique mindsets that impact on business and the sale of its products and services. Attitudes and shared beliefs about a range of factors including money, customer service, imports, religion, cultural taboos, health, work, leisure, the environment; population growth and demographics, immigration/emigration, family size/structure, lifestyle trends, etc. will all impact a customer’s beliefs and values all impact on consumers buying habits, it is therefore imperative that organisations understand the social factors affecting their consumers so they can adapt accordingly, when necessary and in a timely manner.

Technological Factors: Unquestionably technology influences a business. Technology changes take place every minute and organisations need to stay up to date with developments to allow them to stay current and grow within their industry, integrating developments as and when required. Technological Factors also help in understanding how consumers react to the technological trends allowing the organisation to utilise them for their benefit.
The internet for example has changed the way consumers shop and organisations need to adapt to these changes to ensure their survival.

Legal Factors: These include the legislative change that affects the business environment. For example, if a regulatory body such as X implements regulation within the X industry, then the law passed will have an impact on all the businesses within the X industry.

Environmental Factors: These factors include the climate, geographical location and weather. For example; increased awareness of the accumulation of plastic products in the UK and the impact plastic pollution has on wildlife, marine life and indeed humans led to a law been passed that required all large retailers in England to charge 5p for all single-use plastic carrier bags from October 2015.

  • SWOT been an acronym for;


The SWOT analysis was founded by Albert Humphrey from Stanford Research Institute between 1960 -1970. It is an analysis to internally understand the business and its competitive position, by identifying its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities open to you and threats that you face. Used in a business context, it helps you to carve a sustainable niche in your market (“SWOT Analysis” 2018).

The Influence of Management on HR

Strength refers to the capabilities and resources within an organisation that can give them a competitive advantage. For example, strengths of an organisation can include creating unique products or offering high-level customer service. Strengths might also include things like the organisation’s culture, its training and staffing methods and the quality of the managers. In other words, the capabilities of the company are considered its strengths.

Weakness refers to the lack of capabilities or resources that prevents an organisation from having a competitive advantage. For example, a firm might have a bureaucratic and large structure that limits the ability of competing with smaller and dynamic companies or when an organisation has a higher labour cost compared to its competitor who can achieve similar amount of productivity from the lower cost of labour.

Opportunities provide an organisation with a chance for improving their performance and competitive advantage. Some of the opportunities are anticipated while others are unexpected. Opportunities also arise when an organisation delivers a niche of new products or services or, for example, the increase in the use of the internet has put forward innumerable opportunities enabling organisations to sell their products 24/7 anywhere in the world.

Threats might refer to a group, organization or an individual outside a firm that aims at reducing the level of performance of the company. All companies face some form of threat within the environment. Indeed, successful organisations may face stronger threats than smaller organisations due to the fact that other organisations will want to be part of the success and to do this will need to take away that organisations competitive advantage.  Regulations from the government and the may also act as a threat.


Great Product

Great Brand

High level of customer service


Staff training programmes


High Labour Costs
Reduced productivity

Costly machinery


Customer loyalty
Research and Development of new products

Online sales possible due to increase in use of the internet


Large number of competitors

Economic conditions may affect consumer spending

Minimum wage increases decrease profitability


Developed by Harvard Business School’s Michael E. Porter in 1979, Porters 5 Forces analyses an organisations competition by looking at 5 specific factors;

Competitive rivalry

Bargaining power of suppliers

Bargaining power of customers  

Threat of new entrants

Threat of substitute products

These factors help determine whether a business can be profitable, based on other organisations within the same industry.

Each method of analysis is used to understand the business from different perspectives depending on what the organisation is doing and what it is hoping to achieve. There is a time and a place for each method depending what you are trying to achieve.

The stages of strategic formulation and implementation are explained with the help of Andrews Model. Source: (Bamberger, Meshoulam and Biron 2014).

Internal and External Factors That Can Influence How HR Looks Within an Organization

Organisations need to make plans to ensure the business is heading in a direction which is aligned to their overall, long-term vision, mission and purpose of the organisation.

Firstly, the organisation needs to understand what their mission, vision and purpose is – this can be achieved by asking -  what does the organisation want to achieve by been in business?

This could be anything from;

  • Increasing Profit
  • Increasing Turnover
  • Increasing Share of market
  • Increasing awareness of X

Goals or objectives are a set of statements and/ or numbers that define what an organisation is aiming to achieve.

The organisations ultimate goal or objectives could be made up of several short and long-term goals.  Once the goals or objective has been determined, the organisation will need to create a strategy (plan) as to how they will achieve their goals/ objective - Strategy has been studied for years by business leaders and by business theorists. Yet, there is no definitive answer about what strategy really is.

Wikipedia states that; First and foremost, you need a strategy because it sets the direction and establishes priorities for your organization. ... Once you define your strategic direction, you can get operations, sales, marketing, administration, manufacturing, and all other departments moving together to achieve the organization's goals (“Strategy” 2018).

Without a strategy the organisation will not be successful in achieving its goals.

Strategy is fundamental to the success and sustainability of any organisation for the following reasons:

1. Understanding the company and industry

2. Growing as an organisation in a changing world

3. Creating a vision and direction for the whole organisation

Delivering a strategic plan is one of the most important things any organization, regardless of size can undertake however the type of strategy used will very much depend on the type of organisation and the industry in which they operate, and different types of strategy will be used at different levels within the organisation (Teece 2014). 

A well-formulated and executed strategy establishes the foundations against which the organization can create, monitor and measure their success. The benefits of strategy include - creating new business opportunities, to streamlining the operations, engaging staff; a well-formulated strategy will enable increased growth, productivity and profit both now and into the future (Berg 2011).

The strategy will be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure the organisation is heading in the right direction to achieve its goals and this should be reviewed regularly.

It is imperative that all goals are reviewed on a regular basis, failure to do so could result in only realising that a goal has not been met when you had planned to achieve it by.

For example;

Goal; Increase turnover by £1M

Strategy timeline; 12 months

Goal Achievement Date; 31st December

If progress towards the goal is not monitored on a regular basis then you could reach 31st December to find out you have only achieved 40% if your objective, reviewing regularly allow the organisation to continually assess progress and make changes where necessary. The questions can then be asked monthly, is the organisation working towards their goal? If no, why not? Doing so allows you to review, assess and make changes where necessary.  

Some people believe that you must analyse the present carefully, anticipate changes in your market or industry, and, from this, plan how you'll succeed in the future. Meanwhile, others think that the future is just too difficult to predict, and they prefer to evolve their strategies organically (Taylor & Woodhams 2016).

Gerry Johnson and Kevan Scholes, authors of "Exploring Corporate Strategy," say that strategy determines the direction and scope of an organization over the long term, and they say that it should determine how resources should be configured to meet the needs of markets and stakeholders (Johnson, Scholes, & Whittington 2011).

Michael Porter, a strategy expert and professor at Harvard Business School, emphasizes the need for strategy to define and communicate an organization's unique position, and says that it should determine how organizational resources, skills, and competencies should be combined to create competitive advantage (“Porters Five Forces” 2018).

The Oxford dictionary define a strategy as a plan of actions designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim.

It is possible to distinguish three alternatives, basic business strategies approaches;

  1. Rational/ Classical
  2. Emergent/ Logical Incrementalism
  3. Symbolic/ Radical (“Strategy”2018)

Rational Approach is often characterised as being the ‘classical’ or ‘mainstream’ approach/ Here the task if strategy making is entrusted to senior managers. Their job is to undertake a continual appraisal of both the external and internal approach, using tools such as SWOT analysis and to use this information to formulate goals, aims or objectives for the organisation.

Having chosen the strategic, the next task is to put it into effect by organising appropriately, and particularly by gathering together the necessary resources (raw materials, technologies, capital, people.) Central to the rational model is the idea that organisations should appraise different possible strategic courses of action, evaluate them all and them make a choice. This might involver and organisation which consists of several separate businesses, shedding some in order to focus investment on another. Alternatively, it might involve a business competing in one defined market seeking to increase its share by developing new products, moving existing products up-market or cutting its costs to reduce prices.

The idea of emergent strategies originates in the work of analysts such as James Quinn (1980) who studied, in depth what happened in organisations. He found that in practice rational strategy formulated at senior levels influenced the actual strategic direction an organisation took, but that other factors also intervened, so that the organisation ended up pursuing a rather different strategy, in practice what happens is that a strategy emerges incrementally over time as an organisation responds to the realities of its environmental position. Opportunistically. Trial and error determines what happens as much as any rationally planned top down strategy. The approach is sometimes labelled logical incrementalism in that each step taken is logical and consistent, but it is not planned many years or months in advance. Senior managers set general goals but responsibility in formulating a strategy for getting there lies in the hands of the people of the organisation, responding to situations as they arise.

The third approach (symbolic) turns the whole process on its head. In practice it argues most organisations get on with the business of competing, evolving tactics as they go, trying different things and sticking with things that work well. In other words, they muddle through opportunistically, often succeeding because of luck rather than judgement. They then formulate a written strategy in response. In other words, the tail wags the dog. Implementation precedes the formulation of a strategy. We try things, which work best and then retrospectively articulate this as our strategy. According to this view, strategy formulation is merely a symbolic action designed to give an organisation gravitas and credibility.  In practice, little strategic leadership occurs; what we say is our strategy is actually just a post-hoc reaction of what we actually do (Taylor & Woodhams 2016).

Henry Mintzberg IS THE MOST INFLUENTUAL THINKER IN THIS FIELD OF STUDY. He is also well known for having formulates a contingency model which sets out the circumstances when the above types of strategy -formation process are appropriate. He suggests that the key variables are the complexity of the organisation and its environment and the rate of changes in that environment (“Mintzberg’s management roles” 2018).

These, he state can be different for different organisation at different times, so the types of approach used for strategy-making which is most appropriate will itself vary over time.

Figure 1.  The top left-hand box indicates organisations which operate in relatively stable circumstances and which are themselves either small or relatively uncomplicated. Examples includes most small businesses as well as larger organisations which carry out one or two relatively unsophisticated activities such a pizza factory, a retail chain, which consist of small stores (bakeries, hairdressers and so on) or a bus company.

Here a rational strategy is possible because the environment is both stable and very readily understood. A small team of managers can thus practically develop a business strategy in the classical fashion an implement it. There is little uncertainty and low risk.

The top right-hand box is where organisations that are complex but operate in stable conditions are placed. They are thus faced with moderate uncertainty which derives from many different environmental.  Trends and impact on them. Examples are major government departments, hospitals and universities.

Here an emergent strategy is appropriate, and it should be one involving all levels in the organisational hierarchy. Senior managers cannot fully understand all the facets of these organisations and cannot impose a single strategy on the whole organisation.

Moderate uncertainty is also a feature of organisations in the bottom left hand box, but here it derives from the speed of environmental change rather than the complexity of the environment (Jones & Jones 2013). A small hi-tech company such as an independent software house is a good example. The uncertainty in terms of strategy formation is there because of continual technological developments. Speed of response is what determines survival. There is no time to formulate a rational strategy and it would be out of ate quickly. So, an emergent strategy is appropriate, but is must be on which is formulates and implemented by the same people. The manager decides what to do and does it, but the strategy itself develops in response to changes in the environment (Teece, Peteraf, & Leih 2016).

Finally, the bottom right hand box contains organisations that are both complex and faced with a fast-changing environment. A large hi-tech organisation is an example or an international bank – or any large organisation. Here the level of uncertainty is high, both because of the organisations complexity and the speed of change. Rational strategic planning serves no purpose so an opportunistic, decentralised approach to decision-making is needed (Taylor & Woodhams 2016). This is them rationalised, post hoc, by senior managers in the form of a strategy document. It impresses investors, but it does not really drive decision machining on a day-day basis.

Mintzberg’s two big ideas then come together in this argument that organisations are becoming increasingly complex and environments increasingly fast-changing hence great uncertainty and ‘discontinuity hence ‘fall’ of traditional, rational approaches to strategy -formation.  

An organisation may have a strategy in place for the next year, 5 years or even 10 years however it is imperative that the business does not implement a strategy without reviewing it regularly to ensure the business is on track to achieve their goal and objectives (Johnson, Scholes, & Whittington 2011).

Reviewing the progress regularly allows the organisation to review how they are performing and understand if they are on track to achieve the overall goal.

The board of directors will agree goals for the business over the year, the goals will then be broken down into departments and reviewed monthly. The individual departments can then deal with issues and improvements as they go along (Sadgrove 2016).

Traditionally organisations judged their success based purely on the financials however nowadays it is understood and appreciated that whilst financial measures are certainly an important part of the picture, they are only part of the bigger picture.

Success can be measured based on;

  • Profit
  • Turnover
  • Share of industry
  • Absence
  • Targets
  • Every area which has an impact on the profit line
  • Time deliveries
  • Product/ service quality
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Where can compare with other organisations – good internally but also externally, compare what we motivated etc
  • People
  • Resources
  • Recruiting but no profit (Schaltegger & Wagner 2017).

Research shows the importance of having goals, strategies and the importance of reviewing progress towards those goals regularly however the questions then remains; How would an organisation go about evaluation?

One way of doing so is by using balance scorecards, balance scorecards provide a balanced view of businesses performance using a traffic light system rather than focusing purely on the financials. It is recommended that it is reviewed at a minimum monthly to ensure the business is achieving the targets and if not, the organisation should assess why not, and implement changes to ensure objectives achieved.

Balances scorecards allow an organisation to get a ‘balanced’ view of the organisation. The focus will be on both high and low-level measures, they allow you to take an overall strategic vision and break this down into specific tasks that can be assigned to departments to action as part of their day to day obligations.

“The Balanced Scorecard is a management system. a way of looking at your organization that focuses on your big-picture strategic goals. It also helps you choose the right things to measure so that you can reach those goals (What is a Balanced Scorecard? 2018).

Historically balanced scorecard represented only four separate areas which were all independent of the others. Financials

  • Internal Business Processes
  • Learning & Growth
  • Customer

However, over time, people began to realise that each of these areas are closely interlinked and affect each other in surprising ways. Nowadays it is appreciated that the way in which each area is ordered matters.

Modern balanced scorecards show how each perspective builds on the previous one. If an organisation trains it’s employees and builds a culture of information sharing (Learning and Growth), they’ll make your company run more smoothly (Internal Business Processes). A better running business takes better care of its customers (Customer), and happy customers buy more of what the organisation is selling (Financial).

Another way organisations use to evaluate and represent an organisations performance is using company dashboards.

Company Dashboards  provide at-a-glance views of KPIs (key performance indicators) relevant to a particular objective or business process, in essence a Company Dashboard is a report that is brought to live. The "dashboard" is often displayed on a web page which is linked to a database that allows the report to be constantly updated. For example; a human resources dashboard may show numbers related to staff recruitment, retention and composition, for example number of open positions, or average days or cost per recruitment.

Company Dashboards allow managers to assess the performance of their departments and to assess the performance of the company as a whole.

Benefits of using digital dashboards include

  • Visual presentation of performance measures
  • Ability to identify and correct negative trends
  • Measure efficiencies/inefficiencies
  • Ability to generate detailed reports showing new trends
  • Ability to make more informed decisions based on collected business intelligence
  • Align strategies and organizational goals
  • Saves time compared to running multiple reports
  • Gain total visibility of all systems instantly
  • Quick identification of data outliers and correlations

As you can see from the below examples there are several ways of presenting a company dashboard, they bring an organisations data to life, making more engaging and meaningful to employees throughout the organisation and show at almost a glance how the business is performing.

A company dashboard is a visual display of your business’ data that is essential to achieve your goals. This data is consolidated and showcased on a single screen so that it can be tracked and monitored at a glance. Truly helpful is the fact that the data is automatically updating itself without any assistance from the user. With the right dashboard, you can experience the satisfaction of leading your business to success (Iordache 2018).

Balanced Scoreboards and Dashboards have been linked together as if they were interchangeable. However, although both visually display critical information, the difference is in the format:

Scoreboards can open the quality of an operation while dashboards provide calculated direction. A balanced scoreboard has what they called a "prescriptive" format. It should always contain these components (Active Strategy)...

  • Perspectives – group
  • Objectives – verb-noun phrases pulled from a strategy plan
  • Measures – also called Metric or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
  • Spotlight Indicators – red, yellow, or green symbols that provide an at-a-glance view of a measure’s performance.

Each of these sections ensures that a Balanced Scorecard is essentially connected to the businesses critical strategic needs.

The design of a dashboard is more loosely defined. Dashboards are usually a series of graphics, charts, gauges and other visual indicators that can be monitored and interpreted. Even when there is a strategic link, on a dashboard, it may not be noticed as such since objectives are not normally present on dashboards. However, dashboards can be customized to link their graphs and charts to strategic objectives.

As the research shows it is imperative to understand how an organisation is performing however it is equally important to understand how competitive they are against other organisations. A way of understanding this is to benchmark against other organisations this will enable you to ask questions such as

Is the package we offer competitive?
Are salaries competitive?

Morrison (2009) define benchmarking as “comparing one’s business processes and performance metrics to industry bests and best practices from other companies. In project management benchmarking can also support the selection, planning and delivery of projects. Dimensions typically measured are quality, time and cost”

It is HR’s responsibility to benchmark salaries against other organisations in order ensure the package offered to employees is competitive, it is also a way to understand what else is happening away from the organisation (Collings, Wood, & Szamosi 2018).

There are 4 types of benchmarking, no one type is the best way. One type might be more appropriate for an organization than another depending on its environment, products, services, resources or culture.

The 4 primary types of benchmarking are: internal, competitive, functional, and generic.

  1. Internal benchmarking is a comparison of a business process to a similar process inside the organization.
  2. Competitive benchmarking is a direct competitor-to-competitor comparison of a product, service, process, or method.
  3. Functional benchmarking is a comparison to similar or identical practices within the same or similar functions outside the immediate industry.
  4. Generic benchmarking broadly conceptualizes unrelated business processes or functions that can be practiced in the same or similar ways regardless of the industry.

The Business Dictionary explain Benchmarking to be a measurement of the quality of an organisation's policies, products, programs, strategies, etc., and their comparison with standard measurements, or similar measurements of its peers.
The objectives of benchmarking are (“Benchmarking” 2018);

(1) To determine what and where improvements are called for

(2) To analyse how other organizations, achieve their high-performance levels

(3) To use this information to improve performance.

Business ethics can be defined as the set of moral rules that govern how businesses operate, how business decisions are made and how people are treated.

Accountability can be defined as someone who is completely responsible for what they do and must be able to give a satisfactory reason for it.

Owners and leaders within organisations will have multiple pressures and as a result could therefore make undesirable decisions. Once a business goal and strategy has been agreed, the Human Resources department is accountable for ensuring the strategy is fair and consistent among all employees (Brewster, Chung, & Sparrow 2016). It is HR’s responsibility to be credible, professional and accountable for the decisions made; this will ensure the organisation and the HR department are trusted by team members and respected among peers. If this is not the case, then the result could be demotivated staff.

HR managers’ role in the ethical conduct within an organisation can feed in at various points:

  • in the nurturing of an ethical organisational culture;
  • in the recruitment of staff who will set the ethical tone of the organisation and uphold its values and ethical climate;
  • in the resolution of ethical conflict when it occurs; and
  • in dealing with the aftermath of an ethical conflict.

The first two of these can help to minimise the likelihood of ethical problems occurring in the first place. Ethical conflict, once it has arisen, presents several challenges; it can give rise to distortion of the facts to protect vested interests by the parties concerned, avoidance of involvement by witnesses for fear of reprisals or jeopardising their own relationships with one or more parties and abuse of power in the outcomes of the conflict. HR managers can help to ensure that organisations operate with due concern for fairness, integrity and justice both to reduce the likelihood of ethical conflicts arising and in dealing with them if they do. Ethically unhealthy organisations will likely lose good staff and encourage a detrimental zero-sum mentality rather than a win-win one.

In handling ethical problems HR managers need to appreciate the complexities involved, avoid escalation of the issue and protect against the emotional and reputational impact that can result from them. It is also increasingly important for HR managers to develop a global perspective on ethical issues (Harris 2016).

While HR is not expected to take blame for every misjudgement in an organisation, it should be able to recognise why unethical behaviours arise, and help people navigate the choices available to them (Bratton & Gold 2017). It is easy to calculate the aftermath of actions in retrospect, when the relative benefits and costs of options become obvious. But, at the time when the decision is made, the potential negative consequences of our choices only present themselves as ambiguous and unlikely ‘risks’. Willingness to take those risks is fraught with personal interpretation and bias, and this is where HR could offer its expertise in organisational behaviour and influence the shared understanding of what is OK (Zheltoukhova 2015).


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