chapter  4
16 Pages

Constructing identity

Implications for reflexive HRM
ByClaude-Hélène Mayer, Aden-Paul Flotman

The unrelenting continuation of globalization has resulted in considerable change, complexity and diversity in societies and organizations (Mayer, 2011; Gröschl and Bendl, 2015; Syed and Pio, 2016). In view of this phenomenon, HRM leaders and practitioners should be able to live and conduct their lives according to their personal value systems, but at the same time they should not become enslaved by their prejudices, unconscious behavioural patterns and projections (Mayer, 2008; Mayer and Louw, 2013). This assumes greater significance in the increasingly diverse international human resource environment (Shen et al., 2009; Berger et al., 2016). It has become imperative that strategic HRM proactively engages in the diverse agenda of today's workplace. It is only until recently that the relationship between managerial practices, religious beliefs and organizational outcomes have been consciously explored (Mellahi and Budhwar, 2010). This body of research has been escalating, affirming the association between religious beliefs, managerial practices and workplace behaviours (Budhwar and Fadzil, 2000; Morgan, 2005; Randeree and El- Reave, 2005; Faramawy, 2010). The globalization momentum has been accelerated by immigration practices, fuelled by political, social and economic motives (Lebl, 2014; Sharma and Reimer-Kirkham, 2015; Valiuniene, 2016). Within this context, there has been an increased focus on Islam, and specifically on how Muslims experience employment practices in the ‘West’ (Loobuyck et al., 2013; Syed and Pio, 2016). It is suggested that Islam is the fastest-growing religion with a following in excess of 1.5 billion people (Katou et al., 2010) and that one fifth (20 per cent) of the world's Muslim population reside in countries where Muslims are in the minority (PEW Forum, 2009). This is a critical point, since employees do not execute their tasks in an organizational vacuum, but enter the work environment with their personal, religious and cultural beliefs and values (Branine and Pollard, 2010). This complete entry into the job market has a direct impact on the identity of employees (Mayer and Louw, 2013) and poses a direct challenge to HRM practices. If HRM wants to be and remain relevant, it has to confront the following question: ‘What is the influence of this socio-economic and political context on the identity formation of Muslims and other minority groups, and how do we create agency and space for discourse in order for minority groups to flourish within this multidimensional environment as well?’ It is within the HRM space, where identities are constantly constructed through personal reflexivity and social contact as well as job interaction. To respond to this question, discourses on identity and identity formation are subsequently explored.