In search of decent work: Human resource managers as custodians of fair reward in international NGOs

Katie Geradine, Ishbel McWha-Hermann*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

As the world faces increasing environmental, social and financial crises, as a result of climate change, deepening unrest about inequality, and the cost of living crisis, there are growing calls for organisations to play a role in responding to them. Scholars in the field of sustainable human resource management (HRM) have elaborated various avenues through which the field of HRM can contribute to this response. One such contribution HRM can make to global grand challenges is through contributing to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Of particular relevance for HRM is SDG8, which calls for decent work. In this study we empirically explore why, how and what influences HR managers in international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) to seek to enact fair reward, a key component of decent work. Based on our analysis, we find evidence that HR managers can be strategic actors in enacting fair pay, and we identify a complex interplay between HR managers and their context in the behaviours underpinning this enactment. HR managers adopt one of at least three identified roles to proactively enact fair reward (visionary, gatekeeper or technical consultant). Each role adopts differing strategic and fairness enactment behaviours to navigate the constraints posed by the context in which they work, including focussing on influencing different justice dimensions, and leveraging disruption in the external environment. By drawing out the key role HR managers can play in enacting fairness, we offer support for the importance of HRM in contributing to decent work and global grand challenges. Ultimately our study offers support for a common good HRM, in which HR manager actions are influenced and driven by challenges beyond the scope of their organisation. We offer empirical support and theoretical development related to how context shapes HR manager roles at work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)202-230
Number of pages29
JournalGerman Journal of Human Resource Management
Issue number2
Early online date17 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - May 2024

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • common good HRM
  • decent work
  • fair reward
  • HR manager
  • international NGOs


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