Human Relations has had a long tradition of bringing social science disciplines together in order to understand the character and complexity of human problems. We publish incisive investigations from an international network of leading scholars in management, psychology, sociology, politics, anthropology and economics.
This note states briefly the mission of the journal. It then gives detail and elaboration.
Human Relations addresses the social relations in and around work – across the levels of immediate personal relationships, organizations and their processes, and wider political and economic systems. It is international in its scope. The journal is grounded in critical social science that challenges orthodoxies and questions current organizational structures and practices. It promotes interdisciplinarity through studies that draw on more than one discipline or that engage critically across disciplinary traditions. It deploys any social science method used in a rigorous manner. It promotes studies that draw out the practical implication of their results in a manner consistent with critical engagement with practice as opposed to advice to particular actors or groups.
Process and background
The mission statement has been produced as part of the journal's self-reflection about its aims and purpose, inspired in part by its 70th anniversary in 2017. The first issue in 1947 declared the focus to be 'community problems' and 'interpersonal and inter-group tensions', together with studies developing theory relevant to these topics. The subsequent evolution of the journal is discussed in reflections on its history by Editor-in-Chief Professor Paul Edwards (available here). The present notes are the latest iteration (April 2016). A central part of the evolution was the tightening of the focus to work, the workplace, and linkages between this sphere and other aspects of society. The phrase 'the social relations in and around work' was developed in 2006 to summarize the focus. This remains the key interest.
The notes have been prepared after debate in the editorial team and discussion with the Editorial Board, our publishers, and the journal's Editorial Management Committee. This last body oversees the strategy of the journal, with membership comprising representatives of the Tavistock Institute (which co-founded the journal in 1947 and currently owns it) and the publishers, together with an independent Chair, the Editor-in-Chief and the Managing Editor. It is none the less impossible to define exactly the identity of a journal in a way that everyone would accept. Nor is it possible to specify a precise boundary between the journal and the many journals that address work, employment, and organization studies. The features highlighted here are thus indicative rather than absolute.
The journal retains its specific focus on 'the social relations in and around work'. The boundaries of 'work' have been extended massively in the past 20 years to embrace voluntary work, work in the home, the 'informal economy' and many other types of economic activity. We make no definitive statement as to what constitutes work. But we focus on social relationships around the production of goods and services in the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors; these relationships generally occur within organizations with hierarchies of power and authority. This focus would include, for example, voluntary work where it occurs within an imperatively co-ordinated organization but would generally exclude hobbies or activities in voluntary associations such as sports clubs. We include relationships with non-human 'actants' such as technologies.
The journal thus addresses all three levels of the 'micro' (immediate relationships between people), the 'meso' (organizations and their rules, processes and structures) and the 'macro' (the wider economy and society, which embraces the global economy and the systemic nature of capitalism and other modes of production). We generally exclude analyses that are wholly or mainly about the last level, for example, the development of a global production system or educational systems. We also tend to exclude accounts of organization as an overall social process, as distinct from an analysis of the linkages between such a process and relationships in the sphere of work.
We address in particular linkages between work and the wider political, social and economic context in which work is embedded, for example, relationships between paid work and the family and the links between work and equality and inequality. 'Social relations' thus mean more than direct relationships between people. They include the interplay between 'structure' and 'action' and the ways in which direct social relationships produce, reproduce and shape influences that are part of the structure of a situation. The environment of an organization, for example, is not an asocial thing but is itself socially shaped, and its influences are also socially defined. We aim to sustain analyses that build on such perspectives.
The journal welcomes contributions from all social science disciplines. We are in particular an interdisciplinary social science journal, sitting between generalist journals in such fields as management studies and those with a specific disciplinary focus. The journal is grounded in 'critical social science' in a broad sense. It is not limited to Critical Theory or Critical Management Studies, for example, but takes 'critical' to embrace any approach that challenges orthodoxies, aims to understand the processes generating things that are taken for granted and the reasons why they are taken for granted or poses questions about current ways in which organizations are structured and managed.
The journal aims to contribute to the understanding of the contemporary world of work by making linkages across disciplines, while recognizing the difficulty of this task. In the first issue, the strapline 'towards the integration of the social sciences' was adopted. This strapline was removed in the 1990s on the grounds that integration was hard to define and that progress towards it even harder to demonstrate, to say nothing of arguments that social science may need to develop distinctive sub-fields and specialisms. While recognizing that the initial ambition may have been grand and even naive, we assert the value of disciplines speaking to each other and of drawing on different disciplines to address substantive issues in the world of work.
The journal's approach to practice reflects the intersection of two things: the commitment to critically informed scholarship; and the journal's long tradition, linked with its roots in the Tavistock Institute, of a concern with improving working lives and even with emancipation. The essence of the idea was captured by one of the journal's, and institute's, founding figures, Elliott Jaques. He led the famous Glacier research project, which began as a piece of scientific inquiry. After the funded research ended, he was hired by the firm as a consultant. Reflecting on his approach (in issue 4, 1964, of the journal) he stressed that his method was not to offer advice to do a particular thing, but rather make comments such as: 'the following factors may help to resolve this issue' or 'there seems to be an inconsistency between current proposals and previous decisions'. We thus expect papers, where this is appropriate, to reflect on the implications for practice of their results. Discussion of the ethical and other issues of how research can engage with practice is also a feature of the journal. Specific recommendations as to what a particular actor or group might do are generally outside the journal's remit.
The journal welcomes contributions using any social science method, as long as they apply the method rigorously in line with best practice in that field. In line with our focus on actual social relationships in the world of work, we do not publish work based wholly or mainly on lab experiments, or drawing mainly on student samples, but will consider these research designs in concert with field data. We appreciate the power of field-based experiments/quasi-experiments with employees that combine the potential for strong inference with ecological validity not often found in the lab.
In relation to survey-based papers we endorse the movement away from single-respondent and cross-section designs towards multi-level and/or longitudinal studies. Cross-section designs may, however, be entirely appropriate in circumstances including: the novelty of the research in terms of topic or empirical location; limitations on research access; and evidence that allows causal inferences to be sustained. Papers using all kinds of qualitative methods are encouraged. They are expected to offer appropriate kinds of generalization, for example, by locating a case study within extant research and discussing the reasons why the case was as it was.
The journal's remit is not centrally research methods as such. Critical analyses of research methodology in the broad sense of the epistemology of research and the politics of the research process are encouraged. Narrower papers developing or validating research instruments will not generally fit our remit.
The journal has an international focus. It welcomes studies of and contributions from any region of the world.
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Publication ethics and antiplagiarism checks
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Preparation and submission guidance
Please do read our guidance How to prepare and submit an article and do not hesitate to contact the Editorial Office at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any queries or problems with the submission process – we would be only too pleased to help!
Human Relations is an international peer reviewed journal, which publishes the highest quality original research to advance our understanding of social relationships at and around work through theoretical development and empirical investigation.
Human Relations seeks high quality research papers that extend our knowledge of social relationships at work and organizational forms, practices and processes that affect the nature, structure and conditions of work and work organizations.
Human Relations welcomes manuscripts that seek to cross disciplinary boundaries in order to develop new perspectives and insights into social relationships and relationships between people and organizations.
Human Relations encourages strong empirical contributions that develop and extend theory as well as more conceptual papers that integrate, critique and expand existing theory.
Human Relations welcomes critical reviews and essays:
- Critical reviews advance a field through new theory, new methods, a novel synthesis of extant evidence, or a combination of two or three of these elements. Reviews that identify new research questions and that make links between management and organizations and the wider social sciences are particularly welcome. Surveys or overviews of a field are unlikely to meet these criteria.
- Critical essays address contemporary scholarly issues and debates within the journal's scope. They are more controversial than conventional papers or reviews, and can be shorter. They argue a point of view, but must meet standards of academic rigour. Anyone with an idea for a critical essay is particularly encouraged to discuss it at an early stage with the Editor-in-Chief.
Human Relations encourages research that relates social theory to social practice and translates knowledge about human relations into prospects for social action and policy-making that aims to improve working lives.
Human Relations encourages the uses of methods that are appropriate to both the research context and research questions and therefore welcomes both qualitative and quantitative methods and innovative methods of investigation and analysis.
|Mark Learmonth||Durham University Business School, UK|
|Smriti Anand||Illinois Institute of Technology, USA|
|Mina Beigi||University of Southampton, UK|
|Zhijun Chen||Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, China|
|Alessia Contu||University of Massachusetts, USA|
|Jean-Pascal Gond||City’s Business School, UK|
|Tae-Yeol Kim||China Europe International Business School, China|
|Juliette Koning||Oxford Brookes University, UK|
|Timothy Kuhn||University of Colorado, USA|
|Helena Liu||University of Technology Sydney, Australia|
|Chidiebere Ogbonnaya||University of Sussex, UK|
|Ajnesh Prasad||Tecnologico de Monterrey, Mexico|
|Yasin Rofcanin||University of Bath, UK|
|Melanie Simms||University of Glasgow, UK|
|Karan Sonpar||University College Dublin, Ireland|
|Olga Tregaskis (On sabbatical until April 2022)||University of East Anglia, UK|
|Kerrie Unsworth||University of Leeds, UK|
|Hao Zhao||Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, USA|
|Michael A. Johnson||Louisiana State University, USA|
|Maria Adamson||Middlesex University London, UK|
|Fahreen Alamgir||Monash University, Australia|
|Kerstin Alfes||ESCP Europe, Germany|
|Mats Alvesson||Lund University, Sweden|
|Kara Arnold||Memorial University, Canada|
|Sam Aryee||University of Surrey, UK|
|Karen Lee Ashcraft||University of Colorado Boulder, USA|
|Rachel Ashworth||Cardiff University, UK|
|Erhan Aydin||IPAG Business School, France|
|Nick Bacon||City, University of London|
|David C. Baldridge||Oregon State University, USA|
|Michelle Barton||Boston University, USA|
|Yehuda Baruch||University of Southampton, UK|
|Liuba Belkin||Lehigh University, USA|
|Emma Bell||Open University, UK|
|Aykut Berber||University of West of England, UK|
|Devasheesh Bhave||Singapore Management University, Singapore|
|Sarah Blithe||University of Nevada, Reno, USA|
|Jonathan Booth||London School of Economics, UK|
|Mehdi Boussebaa||University of Glasgow, UK|
|Steven Brown||Nottingham Trent University, UK|
|Patrick Bruning||University of New Brunswick, Canada|
|Patrice M Buzzanell||Department of Communication, University of South Florida, USA|
|Jamie Callahan||Northumbria University, UK|
|Brianna Caza||University of Manitoba, Canada|
|Andy Charlwood||Leeds University, UK|
|Tingting Chen||Lingnang University, Hong Kong, China|
|Chia-Yen (Chad) Chiu||University of South Australia, Australia|
|Jin Nam Choi||Seoul National University, Korea|
|Aichia Chuang||University of North Carolina at Greensboro, USA|
|Catherine Connelly||McMaster University, Canada|
|Neil Conway||Royal Holloway, University of London, UK|
|Alison Cook||Utah State University, USA|
|Cecily D. Cooper||University of Miami, USA|
|François Cooren||University of Montreal, Canada|
|John L Cordery||Curtin University, Australia|
|John Cullen||Maynooth University, Ireland|
|Kevin Daniels||University of East Anglia, UK|
|Sadhvi Dar||Queen Mary University of London, UK|
|Katleen De Stobbeleir||Vlerick Business School, Belgium|
|Stephen Deery||King's College London, UK|
|Tobias Dennerlein||University of Navarra, Spain|
|Penny Dick||University of Sheffield, UK|
|Rory Donnelly||University of Liverpool, UK|
|Michaela Driver||New Mexico State University, USA|
|Michael Eaves||Valdosta State University, USA|
|Paul Edwards||University of Birmingham, UK|
|Tony Edwards||Loughborough University London, UK|
|Kyle Ehrhardt||University of Colorado, USA|
|Carole Elliott||Sheffield University, UK|
|Cécile Emery||University of Surrey, UK|
|Gail T Fairhurst||University of Cincinnati, USA|
|John Ferguson||University of St Andrews, UK|
|Jackie Ford||Durham University, UK|
|William Foster||University of Alberta, Canada|
|Marianna Fotaki||Warwick Business School, UK|
|Amy Fraher||University of Southampton, UK|
|Jerry (Bryan) Fuller||Louisiana Tech University, USA|
|Elizabeth George||University of Auckland Business School, New Zealand|
|Fabiola Gerpott||WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management, Germany|
|Steven Granger||University of Calgary, Canada|
|Christopher Grey||Royal Holloway University of London, UK|
|Irena Grugulis||University of Leeds, UK|
|Joseph G. Grzywacz, Ph.D.||Florida State University, USA|
|Marco Guerci||University of Milan, Italy|
|Laura Guillén||Esade Ramon Llull University, Spain|
|Stefanie Gustafsson||University of Bath, UK|
|Philip Hancock||University of Essex, UK|
|Ashley Hardin||Washington University, USA|
|Nancy Harding||University of Bath, UK|
|Bill Harley||The University of Melbourne, Australia|
|Brian Harney||Dublin City University, Ireland|
|Geraint Harvey||Western University, Canada|
|Jean-François Harvey||HEC Montréal, Canada|
|Rebecca Hewett||Erasmus University, Netherlands|
|Donald Hislop||University of Aberdeen, UK|
|David Holman||Manchester Business School, UK|
|Fabian Homberg||LUISS Business School, Italy|
|Kim Hoque||University of Warwick, UK|
|Severin Hornung||University of Innsbruck, Austria|
|Kate Horton||Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands|
|Jasmine Hu||Ohio State University, USA|
|Xu Huang||Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong|
|Lee Jarvis||Grenoble School of Management, France|
|Yuan Jiang||Harbin Institute of Technology, China|
|Gary Johns||Concordia University, Canada|
|Peter J. Jordan||Griffith University, Australia|
|Dan Kärreman||Copenhagen Business School, Denmark|
|D Christopher Kayes||The George Washington University, USA|
|Simon Kelly||University of Huddersfield, UK|
|Kate Kenny||Queens University, Belfast, UK|
|Svetlana Khapova||Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands|
|Angela Knox||University of Sydney, Australia|
|Dejun (Tony) Kong||Unviersity of South Florida, USA|
|Michael W. Kramer||University of Oklahoma, USA|
|Mukta Kulkarni||Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, India|
|Smirti Kutaula||Kingston University London, UK|
|Ho Kwong Kwan||China Europe International Business School, China|
|Kim Kyoung Yong||City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China|
|Catherine Lam||City University of Hong Kong, China|
|Brenda A. Lautsch||Simon Fraser University, Canada|
|Desmond Leach||University of Leeds, UK|
|Yih-teen Lee||IESE Business School, Spain|
|Jian Liang||Tongji University, China|
|Xiowan (Lucy) Lin||University of Macau, Macau, China|
|Dirk Lindebaum||Grenoble School of Management, France|
|Stephen Linstead||University of York, UK|
|Yukun Liu||Curtin University, Australia|
|Elise Marescaux||IESEG School of Management, France|
|Angela Martinez Dy||Loughborough University, UK|
|Mary Mawritz||Drexel University, USA|
|Darren McCabe||Lancaster University, UK|
|Gerry McGivern||University of Warwick, UK|
|Mariella Miraglia||University of Liverpool, UK|
|Arjun Mitra||California State University , USA|
|Rahul Mitra||Wayne State University, USA|
|Johanna Moisander||Aalto University, Finland|
|Kevin Morrell||Durham University, UK|
|Farooq Mughal||University of Bath, UK|
|Dennis Mumby||University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA|
|Iain Munro||Newcastle University, UK|
|Daniel Muzio||University of York, UK|
|Lukas Neville||University of Manitoba, Canada|
|Thomas Ng||The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China|
|Karina M. Nielsen||University of Sheffield, UK|
|Karen Niven||University of Manchester, UK|
|Emmanuel Ogbonna||Cardiff University, UK|
|Clifford Oswick||Cass Business School, UK|
|YoungAh Park||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA|
|Jane Parker||Massey University, New Zealand|
|Simon Parker||University of Nottingham, UK|
|Gianpiero Petriglieri||INSEAD, France|
|Paraskevas Petrou||Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands|
|Rebecca Pieniazek||University of Leeds, UK|
|Amanda Porter||VU University Amsterdam, Netherlands|
|Paolo Quattrone||University of Manchester, UK|
|Chris Rees||Royal Holloway, UK|
|Tara Reich||London School of Economics and Political Science, UK|
|Erin Reid||McMaster University, Canada|
|Christian Resick||Drexel University, USA|
|Carl Rhodes||University of Technology Sydney, Australia|
|Kathleen Riach||University of Glasgow, UK|
|Sarah Robinson||University of Glasgow, UK|
|Jenny Rodriguez||University of Manchester, UK|
|Alexander Romney||Utah State University, USA|
|Steve Sauerwald||University of Illinois, USA|
|Sebastian C. Schuh||China Europe International Business School, China|
|Rosalind Searle||University of Glasgow, UK|
|Ruodan Shao||York University, Canada|
|Mathew Sheep||Illinois State University, USA|
|Sharon Sheridan||Clemson University , USA|
|Rui Shu||Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, China|
|Sabina Siebert||University of Glasgow, UK|
|Shuchi Sinha||Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, India|
|Dimitrios Spyridonidis||University of Warwick, UK|
|Jakob Stollberger||Aston University, UK|
|Jawad Syed||Lahore University of Management Sciences, Pakistan|
|Dean Tjosvold||Lingnan University, Hong Kong|
|Gergana Todorova||California State University, Fullerton, USA|
|Nick Turner||University of Calgary, Canada|
|William H. Turnley||Kansas State University, USA|
|Lisa Van Der Werff||Dublin City University, Ireland|
|Koen Van Laer||Hasselt University, Belgium|
|Christian Vandenberghe||HEC Montréal, Canada|
|Biju Varkkey||Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, India|
|An-Chih Wang||China Europe International Business School, China|
|Jie Wang||Nottingham University Business School in China, China|
|Lena Wang||RMIT University, Australia|
|Rob Wapshott||University of Nottingham, UK|
|Tony J. Watson||Nottingham Business School, UK|
|Oliver Weigelt||University of Leipzig, Germany|
|Justin Weinhardt||University of Calgary, Canada|
|Mark Williams||Queen Mary University, UK|
|Suze Wilson||Massey University, New Zealand|
|Patrick Wright||University of South Carolina, USA|
|Chia-Huei Wu||Durham University, UK|
|Kyoung-Hee Yu||University of Technology Sydney, Australia|
|Lu Zhang||Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology , South Korea|
|Heather Zoller||University of Cincinnati, USA|
|Anna Zueva||University of Huddersfield, UK|
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