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Quantification in HRM

A study of the practices and consequences of measuring individual employees

Professor Andreas Werr and Assistant Professor Pernilla Bolander

​The research project studies quantification within Human Resource Management (HRM), that is, the use of numbers to describe and categorize employees. Due partly to organizations’ growing dependence on people for achieving competitive advantage and partly to HR functions’ zeal to become strategic, the use of quantification, in particular measurement of individual employees, is attracting widespread interest among HR professionals, consultants and scholars. The underlying idea is to transform employee qualities such as competencies, attitudes, motivations and “talent” into quantities and thus render them more manageable. “Soft” people knowledge is thereby refashioned into “hard” data. Despite this interest and despite the considerable (unintended) practical and ethical ramifications potentially raised by this development, quantification in HRM remains an under-examined organizational practice, especially in the Swedish context.
The purpose of the project is to explore the practices and consequences of measuring individual employees within HRM. We conduct in-depth studies of Talent Management using micro-oriented methods. The research strategy is to track the “path” of numbers, i.e. to trail numbers throughout the organization as they are produced, communicated and consumed by actors such as managers, employees, HR professionals and decision makers.
Handelsbanken’s Research Foundations

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