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Special Issue: "The Impact of the Global Financial Crisis on Human Resources Management"


International Journal of Manpower

Special Issue: “The Impact of the Global Financial Crisis on Human Resources Management”

Guest Editors: 
Dr. Anthony McDonnell (University of Newcastle, Australia)
Prof. John Burgess (University of Newcastle, Australia)

In April of this year [2008] everybody knew that something pretty big had happened to the world’s financial system. What we had no idea, bluntly, was how extreme it was going to be (Lord Turner, Chairman of the Financial Services Authority; cited by DeCrock, 2009: 63).

Previous research has linked the development of the HR function to the history of business (e.g. Conner and Ulrich, 1996; Walker, 1999). Consequently, the way the world’s financial system has crumbled and how many economies have gone from boom to bust in a short period of time is likely to be manifest in changes in workforce management. It has been argued that the HR function has undergone a noticeable shift from a traditional, administrative role to a broader one involving a great strategic input in organisations (Barney and Wright, 1998; Sparrow and Hiltrop, 1994). Exploring the role HR has played during and post the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) will further add to the line of enquiry as to whether HR is really a strategic function. Additionally, examining and understanding the impact the GFC has had on employees would be useful.

This Special Issue invites submissions that explore some of the following areas and research questions. Please note this is not meant as an exhaustive list.

  • What approaches did organisations take to workforce management due to the GFC? For instance, was it a ‘standard’ reactive approach of reducing training and development spend and layoffs or were organisations more proactive in exploring innovative ideas? Why did organisations adopt these approaches?
  • What role did HR play in organisational decisions on how to manage the recession? Did HR have a strategic input or merely an operational role in letting employees go?
  • To what extent were ethical considerations taken into account in decisions about whether to lay staff off or not? Was the GFC used as a convenient means to be selective about staff and get rid of poor performers?
  • Did management learn from previous recessions? What are the lessons to be had from this GFC?
  • Are there any enduring employment and labour market consequences following the GFC? For instance, the permanent loss of jobs in some occupations and sectors may lead to a catalyst for extensive labour market restructuring.
  • What role did employee representatives play? Did management engage with employees over work changes and keep them informed of developments or did management become more unilateral in decision-making and organisational change?
  • Many of the business leaders of organisations and institutions that have been to the forefront of the GFC were on staggering salaries and bonuses. What does this tell us about performance management and performance related reward systems? Are these systems being changed as a result?
  • How did HR deal with the ideology of being a strategic partner working towards the corporate strategy while being an employee champion attempting to maintain employee morale and motivation and retain key human capital?
  • What now for role of HR in organisations? Did the GFC end up being positive for the HR function in terms of showing initiative and displaying innovativeness in keeping staff, maintaining motivation and performance?
  • How have employees been affected by the GFC? What impact has it had on employee morale, job and employee satisfaction, work-life balance and so forth?

This call is open and competitive, and submitted papers will be reviewed in accordance with the International Journal of Manpower review process. The International Journal of Manpower is ranked by Thomson Reuters (ISI) and is an interdisciplinary journal on human resources, management and labour economics.

Submitted papers must be based on original material not under consideration by any other journal or outlet.Manuscripts should be formatted in accordance with International Journal of Manpower publication guidelines. Authors should submit their manuscripts as a word-file attachment which does not reveal their identity in the document. A separate cover page revealing author’s name and affiliation should also be submitted. The deadline for submission is November 12th 2010. The Special Issue will be published in 2011.

Submissions, and general requests for information, should be sent to both of the guest editors:

  • Dr. Anthony McDonnell, Centre for Institutional and Organisational Studies, Faculty of Business and Law, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW 2308, Australia. Email: [email protected]
  • Professor John Burgess, Newcastle Business School, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW 2308, Australia. Email: [email protected] 



Barney, J. & Wright, P. M. (1998), “In Becoming a Strategic Partner: The Role of Human Resources in Competitive Advantage”, Human Resource Management, Vol. 37, No. 1, pp. 31-46.

Conner, J. and Ulrich, D. (1996), “Human resource roles: creating value, not rhetoric”, Human Resource Planning, Vol. 19, No. 3, pp. 38-49.

De Crock, C. (2009), “What I read About the Global Financial Crisis in 2007 and 2009”, Ephemera: Theory and Politics in Organization, Vol. 9, pp. 61-72.

Sparrow, P. and Hiltrop, J.-M. (1994), European Human Resource Management in Transition, Prentice Hall, Hemel Hempstead.

Walker, J. W. (1999), “Perspectives: Is HR ready for the 21st century?”, Human Resource Planning, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 5-7.