Regulating HRM: the limits of regulatory pluralism

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Regulating HRM: the limits of regulatory pluralism

Ideas about regulatory pluralism provided an intellectual foundation for the post-1980s transformation in regulatory frameworks from predominantly state-centric regulation to a growing emphasis on the alternative regulations now abundant in HRM and IHRM. Regulatory pluralism, which maintains that a diversity of alternative regulatory institutions and tools provide more responsive, relevant and legitimate regulation than traditional state regulation, emerged alongside the political ascendancy of neoliberalism. Recent IHRM research on global supply chain regulation largely explains weaknesses in non-nation-state forms of regulation in terms of the relationships of power and commitment among stakeholders and other contextual factors. This article argues that the theory of regulatory pluralism, can contribute both to an understanding and critique of how the growing profusion of regulatory forms populating various HR functions impacts on the quality of HRM policy and practice. The article’s empirical focus is on the national setting, and in particular, regulatory frameworks applying to OHS management. We argue that a pluralist mix of regulators, often overlapping and competing, is less effective in achieving policy objectives and normative change in HRM, than traditional state-oriented regulation.

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