Problematizing people management practices: a critical realist study of knowledge sharing

Edwards, T. and Kakavelakis, K. ORCID: 0000-0003-1841-4298, 2022. Problematizing people management practices: a critical realist study of knowledge sharing. Journal of Critical Realism, 21 (1), pp. 46-64. ISSN 1476-7430

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Within the field of Human Resource Management (HRM), it is assumed people management practices, including teamworking and cultural initiatives enable knowledge sharing because they encourage employees to work collaboratively. Perhaps less well understood are occasions when such efforts fail to create knowledge sharing arrangements. Our case study of a merger explores knowledge sharing because of the emergent properties generated by the organisational changes instigated after the acquisition. Our contributions concern the linkages between people management practices their contexts, the agency of employees and knowledge sharing. First, we employ the overarching critical realist concept of emergence to situate the introduction of people management practices in support of knowledge sharing, to examine how such efforts create the emergent properties to either share or not to share knowledge. This helps us counter normative appraisals of HRM practices treated as unequivocal or symmetrical with knowledge sharing. Second, we refine the idea of communicative reflexivity to explain why employees might decide to engage or withdraw from collaborative work. By focusing on reflexivity as not just an ‘internal dialogue’ but also as an ‘external conversation’ we demonstrate how and why such interaction is an additional and significant form of mediation between social contexts and practice. Exploring knowledge sharing (or not) as a property of emergence that is reflexively monitored by actors in direct conversation with others allows us to explore how the ‘exterior’ mediation of reflexivity shapes the intentional actions of actors.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Journal of Critical Realism
Creators: Edwards, T. and Kakavelakis, K.
Publisher: Informa UK Limited
Date: January 2022
Volume: 21
Number: 1
ISSN: 1476-7430
Rights: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Critical Realism on 8 November 2021, available at:
Divisions: Schools > Nottingham Business School
Record created by: Laura Ward
Date Added: 11 May 2023 14:51
Last Modified: 11 May 2023 14:51

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