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Edited by Adrian Wilkinson, Jimmy Donaghey, Tony Dundon and Richard B. Freeman
Brian Harney and Tony Dundon
Amazon is one of the world’s most recognised organisations. It was the first to leverage on-line platforms for selling and distribution, making its first book sale on-line in 1995 before diversifying into CD, DVDs and electronics and ultimately becoming the ‘everything store’. As Google is to internet search, Amazon is to e-commerce, practically inventing this category of shopping. Amazon’s overriding goal is ‘to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything online’.
Peter Prowse, Tony Dobbins and Ray Fells
While the concept of a Living Wage is not new, the modern Living Wage movement is viewed as having developed in America in the municipal government sector. In 1994, seeing full-time employees coming to their soup kitchens, Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (a coalition of churches, trade unions and neighbourhood groups) started campaigning for a Living Wage (Luce, 2017). Their campaign spread and Lammam (2014) reported that more than 140 American municipalities have Living Wage laws. In contrast, the modern campaign for a Living Wage in the UK emerged in the commercial district of London’s Canary Wharf. The East London branch (TELCO) of the community organisation Citizens UK launched the campaign in 2001, staging protest actions which led to payment of the Living Wage at prominent city banks. The campaign became national and is coordinated by the Living Wage Foundation, established in 2011 by Citizens UK. As a direct result of these campaigns, wage increases have been secured in universities, banking and financial services, healthcare, cleaning, hospitality, catering and retail (Wills and Sims, 2004; Lopes and Hall, 2015).
KnowledgeLtd is one of the world’s largest and most successful professional service firms. Originally established over a century ago, it has enjoyed substantial growth through a combination of mergers, acquisitions and organic expansion. The firm is headquartered in the UK, but has offices in over 150 countries from Australia to Zimbabwe and employs over 200 000 people worldwide. In 2018, its global revenues exceeded US$40 billion. As an organisation, it is held in high esteem and consistently features in the ‘top employer’ lists of many countries.
County Council is located in the South East of England, serving a population of over half a million residents in mostly rural locations with a number of small towns (where council offices are typically concentrated). It is a high wage area with high property prices owing to the relatively short commuting distance to central London by rail and road. The council itself employs nearly 4000 workers covering a wide range of occupations including professionals such as social workers, town planners, and solicitors, as well as operational roles such as cleaners, catering staff and waste operatives. The council has a board of corporate directors that reports to the Chief Executive of the council, who in turn is accountable to democratically elected political leaders (currently the Conservative political group that holds more than 80 per cent of ward seats across the area).
HerbalCeuticals was established in 1986 to manufacture and sell high quality herbal supplements and vitamins within the Australian market. Over the last 10 years their Australian operations have been performing well. HerbalCeuticals’ growth has been possible due to their capacity to keep up with market trends and use of evidence-based research in the development of their herbal supplements and vitamins. HerbalCeuticals’ product line is highly regarded by both consumers and their respective suppliers. Until 2010 HerbalCeuticals operated from Brisbane; however, they have since expanded operations, with several smaller offices and distribution centres located across the country. In 2013 HerbalCeuticals attempted to enter the market in the People’s Republic of China but failed due to a number of bad business dealings with suppliers, which left their small sales office and distribution centre with a poor reputation. HerbalCeuticals had failed to understand and acknowledge the cultural differences when working in a new context and struggled to form and sustain long-standing relationships with local stakeholders. The owners of the company, Bella and Sasha, admit they were very naive about the challenges of operating in new cultural environments and knew very little about the politics, business practices and social customs required to operate successfully in China. Bella and Sasha acknowledge that they were very aggressive in their business style and short-term focused, and did not work satisfactorily with their local partners in establishing trust and long-term relationships.
Alan Roe and Alexandra Athelstan-Price
An analysis of the British Workplace Behaviour Survey by Fevre et al. (2013) found that ‘employees with disabilities and long-term illnesses were more likely to suffer ill-treatment in the workplace and experienced a broader range of ill-treatment. Different types of disability were associated with different types of ill-treatment’ (p. 288). The authors concluded that such treatment was ‘embedded in the social relations of the workplace’ and came from co-workers, supervisors and managers. Furthermore, they found that people with ‘invisible disabilities’ were as likely, if not more likely, to suffer from ill-treatment or discrimination (p. 303).
There are some different – and interesting – characteristics about HRM in franchises that make for a unique case study. Franchises straddle contrasting business types, and hence, their approach to managing people is distinctive. Franchises systems are managed by a ‘franchisor’ (the owner of the brand, business systems and intellectual property), and supported by a Corporate Office that generally operates like a large business. The Corporate Office maintains functions like marketing, finance, IT, operations, site development, and sometimes – HRM. Often, the franchisor also owns and manages corporate ‘units’ (stores) whose employees are legally employed by the franchisor. Other units are owned and managed by ‘franchisees’, essentially independent business people who purchase the rights to use the franchisor’s trademarked name and business model to sell a product or service in their own unit. Typically, these franchised units are small businesses operating in the framework of a large business system.
Sports Direct plc was founded in 1982 by Mike Ashley who was the sole owner until the company went public in 2007. He remains as the company’s controlling shareholder and Chief Executive. The company is a large and expanding retailer as shown by revenue which increased from £1.35bn to £3.3bn between 2007 and 2018. It operates in over 20 countries with the majority of revenue coming from its UK operations, followed by its European stores, and it has expanded operations into the USA and Malaysia. Its core business involves selling sportswear and equipment through stores and online sales but it has also branched out into luxury clothing stores. A significant part of its expansion strategy has involved acquiring interests in whole or part in other retail brands such as McGurks, Lilywhites, Heatons, Flannels and House of Fraser, as well as in sports equipment manufacturing, and in buying sports brands like Dunlop, Slazenger and Lonsdale. In conjunction with its transition to a public company, it moved its head office, support functions and 24-hour warehousing and distribution centre to Shirebrook, UK. Sports Direct’s business strategy has centred on providing a comprehensive product range, ensuring stock availability, closely controlling costs and making efficiencies, and a key part of the strategy is selling clothing at cheap prices. The company’s objective in managing its business is to increase long-term shareholder value. The employment practices used to support this objective have been subject to public scrutiny in recent years because of revelations of their negative effects on workers.
Rachid Zeffane and Linzi Kemp
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) embarked on a very ambitious program of modernization, coupled with the need for major growth-driven business changes. Because of this and because of the small national population and the severe shortage of qualified local workforce, the UAE government was induced to adopt a more flexible immigration policy – hence allowing greater numbers of foreign workers into the country. These (the expatriates) now constitute the overwhelming majority of the workforce, with nationals being in the minority (Al-Waqfi and Forstenlechner, 2014). Also, amidst its move for modernization, the UAE government also embarked on an “Emiratization” initiative in both the public and private sectors, aimed at enhancing the employment of its citizens in a meaningful and efficient manner (AME Info, 2007). As a result, multiple governmental initiatives have been actively promoting Emiratization through training and institutionalized initiatives such as the establishment of “Tawteen UAE”; the “Abu Dhabi Tawteen Council”; “Emirates Foundation”; a “Centre for Emiratization Research & Development” (Emiratization Research Foundation, 2009).