Socially irresponsible human resource management? Conceptualising HRM practice and philosophy in relation to in-work poverty in the UK

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article is motivated by extant literature on how first-world countries, such as the UK, increasingly face problems with poverty arising from employment (in-work poverty). The main problem addressed by this article concerns making a clearer conceptual link between HRM philosophy and practice and in-work poverty. To address this conceptual problem, life history interviews (n=27) were conducted with employees experiencing in-work poverty, due to their effectiveness at explaining why people get into low pay cycles. Based on a lens built through consulting literature on socially responsible HRM (SRHRM) and in-work poverty, the findings demonstrate a conceptual link between HRM philosophy and practice and in-work poverty, resulting in a proposed model of socially irresponsible HRM (SIHRM). We suggest that, negative and important employee outcomes from forms of SIHRM arise not just in the work setting, but also at the work-life interface. The article has implications in terms of informing a range of HRM and in-work poverty debates. Further research and the testing of the ideas generated through this article is recommended before concluding on the wider implications of a model of HRM based on social irresponsibility.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
Early online date1 Mar 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Mar 2019



  • employment law
  • in-work poverty
  • low pay
  • socially irresponsible HRM
  • Socially responsible HRM
  • UK

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation

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