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Graduate employability and the principle of potentiality: an aspect of the ethics of HRM

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>11/2012
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Business Ethics
Issue number1
Number of pages12
Pages (from-to)25-36
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The recruitment of the next generation of workers is of central concern to contemporary HRM. This paper focuses on university campuses as a major site of this process, and particularly as a new domain in which HRM‟s ethical claims are configured, in which it sets and answers a range of ethical questions as it outlines the „ethos‟ of the ideal future worker. At the heart of this ethos lies what we call the „principle of potentiality‟. This principle is explored through a sample of graduate recruitment programmes from the Times Top 100
Graduate Employers, interpreted as ethical exhortations in HRM‟s attempt to shape the character of future workers. The paper brings the work of Georg Simmel to the study of HRM‟s ethics and raises the uncomfortable question that, within discourses of endless potentiality, lie ethical dangers which bespeak an unrecognised „tragedy of culture‟. We argue that HRM fashions an ethos of work which de-recognises human limits, makes a false promise of absolute freedom, and thus becomes a tragic proposition for the individual.