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The extra mile deconstructed: a critical and discourse perspective on employee engagement and HRD

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-490
JournalHuman Resource Development International
Issue number4
Early online date10 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2014


The paper explores the construct of Employee Engagement from a critical and discourse perspective. It is argued that the win-win discourse which characterizes much discussion on EE within a traditional management paradigm presents a decontextualized, depoliticized vision of the organization. The paper examines mainstream critiques of the construct of employee engagement and the contribution of HRD, and notes that HRD processes and practices are seen as important contributors to engagement. It introduces a critical perspective on employee engagement and HRD, viewing employee engagement as a social construction. It highlights problematic assumption in mainstream literatures, such as of the accordance of employee and organization interests. The paper examines how the discourse ‘talks employee engagement into being’, how cultural management programmes serve to construct the ‘engaged employee’, and the impact of competing discourses. A discussion on disengagement reflects on the mis-match between Fordist work practices and employee engagement. The paper concludes by arguing that viewing employee engagement through a critical lens can potentially help towards an HRD practice that is focused on employee interests rather than largely on organizational interests.

    Research areas

  • employee engagement, discourses, critical HRD

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