Understanding work experience and experiential workers: the interplay between experience-(ing) of work and people management

Call for papers for: Personnel Review

Understanding work experience and experiential workers: the interplay between experience-(ing) of work and people management

Deadline for paper submission: 1st September 2020

Guest Editors:

Nelarine Cornelius, Professor of Organisation Studies, Queen Mary University of London, [email protected]

Mustafa Bilgehan Ozturk, Senior Lecturer in Management, Queen Mary University of London, [email protected]

Eric Pezet, Professor of Human Resource Management and Organisation Studies, Université Paris Nanterre, [email protected]

One of the key concerns of contemporary HR policy and practice is how to enhance organizations’ capacity to attract and retain ‘high-calibre’ employees. This generates a compelling organizational imperative to be more engaging, flexible, responsive, and rewarding toward employees, a trend that is further intensified by generational shifts in the workforce toward a growing constituency of millennial workers with greater demands for quality work lives (Ng, Schweitzer and Lyons, 2010; Plaskoff, 2017).
Considerable investments now go into activities that help organizations market themselves as ‘employers of choice’ to both current and future employees, as evidenced by the proliferation of surveys that rank employers along myriad dimensions of interest, including the quality of work experience (Saini, Gopal, and Kumari, 2016). Reflecting organizations’ intensifying focus on how they are perceived as employers, there is a concomitant rise in academic interest that relates organizational self-presentation as ‘good employers’ to the core processes of human resource management (Edwards, 2010; Theurer, Tumasjan, Welpe, and Lievens, 2018). On the one hand, the literature suggests that experience of work is of paramount strategic importance to organizations, and organizations must pay keen attention to employee experience (Carter et al. 2013; Harley, Allen and Sargent, 2007; Farndale and Kelliher, 2013). On the other hand, there is a continuing dearth of knowledge about what it is truly like for employees to experience work, especially in organizations that are considered ‘employers of choice’. Experience appears to be increasingly central to work studies, as well as workplace democracy and well-being at work. Yet, in the context of people management, we have an incomplete grasp of both the role of work experience and the implications of the rise of the experiential worker.

In this special issue, we aim to expand the theoretical and empirical understandings of experience of work in a context characterised by strong organizational efforts to persuade workers of the value and legitimacy of the treatment they receive at work. In recent times, human resource management has been increasingly subject to critique (Ackers, 2014; Johnsen and Gudmand-Høyer, 2010; Sambrook, 2008; Thompson, 2011). Nevertheless, we also observe the spread of organizations that market themselves as superb employers that offer increasingly expansive benefits to their employees. Our call is envisaged to instigate new scholarship that examines the growing challenges and tensions as well as opportunities and possibilities that arise in the interplay between employers and employees in regards to the experience of work (e.g., Burke and Ng, 2006; Mumford, 1995; Noon, Blyton, and Morrell, 2013; Ozturk and Tatli, 2016;  Richardson, 2006; Rowlands and Hardy, 2010; Van Laer and Janssens, 2011).
In writing this call, we consider ‘experience of work’ as a broadly conceptualised, and flexible, term, defined as an employee’s ongoing encounters and negotiations regarding their employer’s attitudes and behaviours toward them. We take the ‘experiential worker’ as an employee who places a significant premium on the positive character of the processual work relationship their employers maintain with them. In teasing out the implications of our empirical and theoretical instigations, we encourage both mainstream and critical studies with clear links to HRM that assess the objective and / or subjective elements of work experience and the work lives of experiential workers.
Studies can be conducted along a single or a variety of dimension(s) of work experience, including but not limited to employee attitudes, behaviours, performance and / or wellbeing. We welcome research involving various sectoral and industry contexts as well as a single-country or cross-country setting originating from any region of the world. Conceptual works are required to go beyond conducting a critical literature review or setting a research agenda. Rather, conceptual works must use and advance theory in order to understand and explain how experience of work operates in relation to HRM. We encourage both qualitative and quantitative research that can shed light on the phenomenon of work experience through novel and fresh questionings, specifications, and conceptualizations.


Indicative list of topics

•    The constitutive elements of work experience and the central role of employees’ experience in contemporary organizations
•    Experiential workers and their unique workplace expectations, needs, and values
•    Convergences and divergences in the experience of work across employees belonging to different generations
•    Contemporary conflicts between organizations and workers in how work experience is negotiated in everyday activities and  /or long-range planning
•    Privileges and disadvantages in the work experiences of employees owing to various identity categories in a diverse workforce 
•    Comparative approaches to the experience-(ing) of work in different research traditions in HRM
•    Consideration of work as an experience, for example, in relation to authenticity or discrimination, as different from classical labour studies and work studies approaches.
•    Implications for the HRM function in relation to its expanding responsibility for managing the experience of work.
•    Strategic value and significance of experience of work for HRM policy and practice and the future of work


Submissions to be made via the ScholarOne manuscript submission portal.

Read the author guidelines.

Deadline for submissions is September 1 2020.


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