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Paradox as a Lens for Theorizing Sustainable HRM

In: Sustainability and Human Resource Management


  • Ina Ehnert

    (Catholic University of Louvain)


This conceptual chapter discusses the strategic potential of sustainability as a concept for Human Resource Management (HRM). Aligning sustainability to HRM allows thinking about new solutions to solve HR problems such as HR shortages, employee health or HR development, to foster the proactive role of HRM in developing sustainable business organizations or to extend the understanding of HRM performance. However, realizing efficient and effective as well as sustainable HRM systems may create paradoxical choice situations and tensions that need to be actively coped with. The objective of this chapter is to explain first how organizations and HRM have responded to tensions from a historical perspective, second, how HRM can cope with potential tensions arising from efforts to make organizations more sustainable.

Suggested Citation

  • Ina Ehnert, 2014. "Paradox as a Lens for Theorizing Sustainable HRM," CSR, Sustainability, Ethics & Governance, in: Ina Ehnert & Wes Harry & Klaus J. Zink (ed.), Sustainability and Human Resource Management, edition 127, pages 247-271, Springer.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:csrchp:978-3-642-37524-8_11
    DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-37524-8_11

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    Cited by:

    1. Barbara Sypniewska & Małgorzata Baran & Monika Kłos, 2023. "Work engagement and employee satisfaction in the practice of sustainable human resource management – based on the study of Polish employees," International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, Springer, vol. 19(3), pages 1069-1100, September.
    2. De Prins, Peggy & Van Beirendonck, Lou & De Vos, Ans & Segers, Jesse, 2014. "Sustainable HRM: Bridging theory and practice through the ‘Respect Openness Continuity (ROC)’-model," management revue - Socio-Economic Studies, Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG, vol. 25(4), pages 263-284.
    3. Živilė Stankevičiūtė & Asta Savanevičienė, 2018. "Raising the Curtain in People Management by Exploring How Sustainable HRM Translates to Practice: The Case of Lithuanian Organizations," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 10(12), pages 1-31, November.
    4. Maria Järlström & Essi Saru & Sinikka Vanhala, 2018. "Sustainable Human Resource Management with Salience of Stakeholders: A Top Management Perspective," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 152(3), pages 703-724, October.
    5. Faiza Manzoor & Longbao Wei & Tamás Bányai & Mohammad Nurunnabi & Qazi Abdul Subhan, 2019. "An Examination of Sustainable HRM Practices on Job Performance: An Application of Training as a Moderator," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 11(8), pages 1-19, April.
    6. Živilė Stankevičiūtė & Asta Savanevičienė, 2018. "Designing Sustainable HRM: The Core Characteristics of Emerging Field," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 10(12), pages 1-23, December.
    7. Marc Scholten & Manuela Faia Correia & Teresa Esteves & Sónia P. Gonçalves, 2022. "No Place for Pointless Jobs: How Social Responsibility Impacts Job Performance," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 14(19), pages 1-25, September.
    8. Matthijs Bal & Andy Brookes, 2022. "How Sustainable Is Human Resource Management Really? An Argument for Radical Sustainability," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 14(7), pages 1-14, April.
    9. Pedro Ferreira & Carla Gabriel & Sílvia Faria & Pedro Rodrigues & Manuel Sousa Pereira, 2020. "What if Employees Brought Their Life to Work? The Relation of Life Satisfaction and Work Engagement," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 12(7), pages 1-12, March.
    10. Ingen, Ramon van & Ruiter, Melanie De & Peters, Pascale & Kodden, Bas & Robben, Henry, 2021. "Engaging Through Purpose: The Mediating Role of Person–Organizational Purpose Fit in the Relationship Between Perceived Organizational Purpose and Work Engagement," management revue - Socio-Economic Studies, Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG, vol. 32(2), pages 85-105.
    11. Coun, Martine J.H. & Peters, Pascale & Blomme, Rob J., 2019. "‘Let's share!’ The mediating role of employees' self-determination in the relationship between transformational and shared leadership and perceived knowledge sharing among peers," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 481-491.
    12. Aslanertik Banu Esra & Çolak Murat, 2021. "The Link Between Sustainability Reporting and the Core Characteristics of Sustainable Human Resource Management," International Journal of Contemporary Management, Sciendo, vol. 57(4), pages 15-24, December.
    13. Jan Willem Nuis & Pascale Peters & Rob Blomme & Henk Kievit, 2021. "Dialogues in Sustainable HRM: Examining and Positioning Intended and Continuous Dialogue in Sustainable HRM Using a Complexity Thinking Approach," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(19), pages 1-20, September.
    14. Astrid Kainzbauer & Parisa Rungruang, 2019. "Science Mapping the Knowledge Base on Sustainable Human Resource Management, 1982–2019," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 11(14), pages 1-22, July.
    15. Farhana Ferdousi & Nuren Abedin, 2023. "Strategic Human Resources Management for Creating Shared Value in Social Business Organizations," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 15(4), pages 1-24, February.


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