Essays on HRM is Unethical Literature review

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The paper "HRM is Unethical" is a wonderful example of a literature review on human resources.   According to Kramar et al (2011) and Greenwood (2002), one of the two forms of ethical analysis of HRM practices or the determination of ethicality of HRM is often viewed from the perspective of the application of ethical theories or theories of justice and fairness to HRM practices. For instance, Klikauer (2010) states that as opposed to the predominant utilitarian view where the role of ethics in management is either reduced to auxiliary roles such as supporting value creation for shareholders or adding value to the organization’ s goals with respect to bottom line profits, ethics in management should operate under the deontological Kantian categorical imperative-treating others as the ends themselves and never as the means.

This illustrates the application of Kantian and utilitarian ethical theories to HRM practices in general. The ethicality HRM practices, especially in employment relations, can also be gauged by the extent to which HRM is ethically endowed or possesses the qualities of fairness and justice (Kramar et al 2011). Such an ethical analysis of HRM, therefore, applies the theories of justice and fairness to specific HRM practices and determines them to be ethical or unethical contingent on demonstration of or consistency with various theories of justice and fairness.

The implication for HRM professionals is that they are ethically responsible for fostering fairness and justice for all employees in their organizations. This essay will critically argue for and against the position that HRM is unethical. The essay will first demonstrate how ethical analysis and evaluation of various HR practices can be conducted using both Kantian and utilitarian theories and Rawls’ theory of justice.

The essay will demonstrate that by violating distributive justice in the pay gap between men and women and from Kantian deontological ethical theory, HRM can be considered as essentially unethical. In contrast, the essay will demonstrate how HRM can be defended as ethical from a utilitarian perspective. In conclusion, it will be demonstrated that the argument against the ethicality of HRM prevails.


Anonymous 2006, Pay Gap Widens, Australian Nursing Journal, Vol 13, No. 9, p8.

Dickens, L 1998, What HRM means for Gender Equality, Human Resource Management Journal, Vol 8, No. 1, pp 23-40.

Greenwood, M.R 2002, Ethics and HRM: A Review and Conceptual Analysis, Journal of Business Ethics, Vol 36, No. 3, pp 261-278.

Klikauer, T. 2010, Critical Management Ethics, Palgrave: Basingstoke (UK).

Kramar, R., Bartram, T. & De Cieri, H. 2011, Human Resource Management in Australia-

Strategy, People, Performance (4th ed.), McGraw-Hill: Sydney.

Legge, K 1997, “The Morality of HRM,” in Mabey, C (Ed), Experiencing Human Resource Management, Sage: London.

Mallan, L.B 1982, Labour Force Participation, Work Experience, and the Pay Gap between Men and Women, The Journal of Human Resources, Vol. 17, No. 3, pp. 437-448.

Shaw, W. H & Barry, V 2010, Moral Issues in Business, Wadsworth: Belmont.

Wilhelm, P.G 1993, Application of distributive justice theory to the CEO pay problem: Recommendations for reform, Journal of Business Ethics, Vol 12, No.6, pp 469-482.

Winstanley, D & Woodall, J 2000, The ethical dimension of Human Resource Management, Human Resource Management Journal, Vol 10, No. 2, pp 5-20.

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