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Graduate Employability and the Principle of Potentiality: An Aspect of the Ethics of HRM


  • Bogdan Costea


  • Kostas Amiridis


  • Norman Crump



The recruitment of the next generation of workers is of central concern to contemporary HRM. This paper focuses on university campuses as a major site of this process, and particularly as a new domain in which HRM’s ethical claims are configured, in which it sets and answers a range of ethical questions as it outlines the ‘ethos’ of the ideal future worker. At the heart of this ethos lies what we call the ‘principle of potentiality’. This principle is explored through a sample of graduate recruitment programmes from the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers, interpreted as ethical exhortations in HRM’s attempt to shape the character of future workers. The paper brings the work of Georg Simmel to the study of HRM’s ethics and raises the uncomfortable question that, within discourses of endless potentiality, lie ethical dangers which bespeak an unrecognised ‘tragedy of culture’. We argue that HRM fashions an ethos of work which de-recognises human limits, makes a false promise of absolute freedom, and thus becomes a tragic proposition for the individual. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Bogdan Costea & Kostas Amiridis & Norman Crump, 2012. "Graduate Employability and the Principle of Potentiality: An Aspect of the Ethics of HRM," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 111(1), pages 25-36, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jbuset:v:111:y:2012:i:1:p:25-36
    DOI: 10.1007/s10551-012-1436-x

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Edward Barratt, 2003. "Foucault, HRM and the Ethos of the Critical Management Scholar," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(5), pages 1069-1087, July.
    2. Ten Bos, René & Rhodes, Carl, 2003. "The game of exemplarity: subjectivity, work and the impossible politics of purity," Scandinavian Journal of Management, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 403-423, December.
    3. Stephen Wood, 1996. "High Commitment Management and Payment Systems," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(1), pages 53-77, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Atif Aziz & Faizuniah Pangil, 2017. "Moderating Effect of and Emotional Intelligence on the Relationship between Skills and Employability," International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, Human Resource Management Academic Research Society, International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, vol. 7(3), pages 1-22, March.
    2. Amalia N. DUȚU & Mihaela I. DIACONU, 2013. "The Quality Of Graduates, Employers And Higher Education," SEA - Practical Application of Science, Fundația Română pentru Inteligența Afacerii, Editorial Department, issue 2, pages 66-76, October.
    3. repec:cmj:journl:y:2013:i:29:dutu is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Recruitment; University; Ethos; Morality; Potential; Simmel;


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