PLAYING BALL - How HR professionals respond to institutional complexity
Purpose: This paper is positioned in the intensive strategic human resource management debate by paying attention to the daily practices of HR professionals. The aim of this cross-sectoral study is to gain a deeper understanding of the everyday work of HR professionals within the Swedish context, by exploring their responses to institutional complexity in practice. The following questions are addressed; What characterises the work performed by HR professionals? How do HR professionals respond to institutional complexity in their daily work? Theory: Drawing on a version of institutional theory, the study explores how conflicting logics affect the daily work of HR professionals. Furthermore, enacted sensemaking in crisis provides an agency-based lens, allowing further investigation of HR professionals' responses to institutional complexity through everyday crisis management. Methods: The study is based on a grounded theory approach with a cross-sectoral unit of analysis, including 22 interviews with HR professionals from different organisational contexts. Through application of a performativity perspective and discourse analysis the cross-sector narrative “playing ball” was found. Results: The findings suggest that exposure to high institutional complexity is apparent in HR professionals' work with “cases”. Supporting managers with emergencies and building close relationships that enable collaboration in “cases” are important parts in the respondents’ work.
Conflicting logics, Enacted sensemaking, Everyday crisis management, Institutional complexity, SHRM