6 Interacting contexts
Crucially, contextual factors often interlock and interact. A set of economic variables such as the industry structure may well be associated with a commensurate set of social policies (for example, regulating rights to time-off work for maternity or regulating workers’ rights and training).
Given such interlocking contextual factors it may not be sensible to think in terms of a pick-and-mix approach to human resource management. Often, approaches sit within constellations of polices which help reinforce each other. In the case study that follows we look at HR in the engineering company Bosch in Germany. This illustrates how aspects of the company’s approach to people management represent a coherent fit with the wider German institutional legal and cultural context.
A seminal work by John Dunlop many years ago explained how employment policies and practices normally could be understood as operating within what he termed ‘industrial relations systems’ – that is the industrial relations rule-making system of a country normally fitted alongside its political, industrial, legal and cultural systems and the main actors operated within a broadly common ideology (Dunlop 1958).