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Opening spaces for conversational practice

Opening spaces for conversational practice: a conduit for effective engagement strategies and productive working arrangements

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2713-2740
Number of pages28
JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
Issue number14
StatePublished - 2013


This study develops the concept of dialogic conversational practice (dialogic CP) as a conduit for effective engagement strategies and productive working arrangements. We begin with a critique of High-Involvement-High-Performance HR systems against the backdrop of the current economic crisis to underline its deep-seated instrumental orientation and adverse effects on employee engagement. We then outline the key dimensions of dialogic CP, and propose a conceptual framework grounded in the line manager–employee relationship, which we argue can moderate the adverse effects of the current economic crisis and frame a move towards more effective engagement strategies. Our research approach combines critical discourse analysis and critical realism to frame a thematic analysis of survey data gathered from two UK public sector organisations. Our core finding suggests that both organisations would fall short of the democratic values and principles underlying our framework but that, despite the negative impact of the current economic crisis on the employment relationship, do offer a glimpse of some of the key characteristics of dialogic CP and display a readiness for a more robust application of the concept to their respective contexts. We conclude by underlining the significance and limitations of our study and its implications for further research.



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