You are here

Due to global supply chain disruptions, we recommend ordering print titles early.


Human Relations

Human Relations

Published in Association with The Tavistock Institute

eISSN: 1741282X | ISSN: 00187267 | Current volume: 74 | Current issue: 5 Frequency: Monthly

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.

Mission statement

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.

Substantive focus

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.

Disciplinary focus

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.

Research methods

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.

Geographical scope

The journal has an international focus. It welcomes studies of and contributions from any region of the world.

Click here for more specific guidance for contributors.

Click here to see our data requirements for articles.

Publication ethics and antiplagiarism checks

Human Relations uses iThenticate CrossCheck™ antiplagiarism software to check if manuscript content has already been published elsewhere.

Human Relations is a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and follows the COPE Code of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines for journal editors.

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 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
Andrew D Brown University of Bath, UK
Associate Editors
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 Maastricht University, Netherlands
Helena Liu University of Technology Sydney, Australia
Chidiebere Ogbonnaya University of Kent, 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 CEIBS, China
Editorial Board
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
Yvonne Benschop Radboud University, Netherlands
Aykut Berber University of West of England, UK
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 Brian Lamb School of Communication, Purdue University, USA
Jamie Callahan Durham University, UK
Brianna Caza University of Manitoba, Canada
Andy Charlwood Leeds University, UK
Tingting Chen Lingnang University, Hong Kong, China
Minyoung Cheong Pennsylvania State University, USA
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
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 IESEG 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
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 Bayes Business School, UK
YoungAh Park University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA
Jane Parker Massey University, New Zealand
Simon Parker University of Nottingham, UK
Federica Pazzaglia UCD Dublin, Ireland
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
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
Amanda Shantz University of St.Gallen, Switzerland
Ruodan Shao York University, Canada
Mathew Sheep Illinois State University, USA
Sharon Sheridan Clemson University , USA
Samir Shrivastava Swinburne University of Technology, Australia
Rui Shu Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, China
Sabina Siebert University of Glasgow, UK
Shuchi Sinha Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, India
Jonas Söderlund BI Norwegian Business School, Norway
Dimitrios Spyridonidis University of Warwick, UK
Jakob Stollberger VU University Amsterdam, Netherlands
Jawad Syed Lahore University of Management Sciences, Pakistan
Gary Thurgood Utah State University, USA
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
Ian Walsh Bentley University, USA
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
Ghazal Zulfiqar Lahore University of Management Sciences, Pakistan
  • Abi/inform
  • Abscan
  • Abstracts for Social Workers
  • Abstracts in Anthropology
  • Abstracts on Criminology and Penology
  • Academic Search Premier
  • Adolescent Mental Health Abstracts
  • Applied Social Sciences Index & Abstracts (ASSIA)
  • British Education Index
  • British Journal of Guidance and Counselling
  • British Journal of Social Work
  • Business Source Corporate
  • Business Source Elite
  • Business Source Premier
  • CD-ROM - International Bibliography of Book Reviews of Scholarly Literature in the Humanities and Social Sciences
  • CD-ROM - International Bibliography of Book Reviews of Scholarly Lterature on the Humanities and Social S
  • CD-ROM International Bibliography of Periodical Literature in the Humanities and Social Sciences
  • CD-ROM International Bibliography of Periodical Literature on the Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Career Development Review
  • Child Development Abstracts & Bibliography
  • Child Development Abstracts & Bibliography (Ceased 2001)
  • Communication Abstracts
  • Contents Pages in Education
  • Criminal Justice Abstracts
  • Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature CINAHL
  • Current Contents / Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Current Contents/ Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Current Management Literature
  • Documentation in Public Administration
  • EMCare
  • ERIC Database (Science/Maths/Environ. Educ.)
  • Educational Administration Abstracts
  • Educational Management Abstracts
  • Educational Research Abstracts Online - e-Psyche
  • Educational Technology Abstracts
  • Emerald Management Reviews
  • Ergonomics Abstracts
  • Family Index
  • Family Index Database
  • Family and Society Studies Worldwide (FSSW)
  • Focus On: Industrial and Organizational Psychology
  • Health Instrument File
  • Human Resources Abstracts
  • IBZ: International Bibliography of Periodical Literature
  • IBZ: International Bibliography of Periodical Literature in the Humanities and Social Sciences
  • International Bibliography of Book Reviews of Scholarly Literature in the Humanities and Social Sciences
  • International Bibliography of Book Reviews of Scholarly Literature on the Humanities and Social Sciences
  • International Bibliography of the Social Sciences
  • International Political Science Abstracts
  • Marriage and Family Review
  • MasterFILE Premier
  • Mental Health Abstracts (online through DIALOG)
  • Online - International Bibliography of Book Reviews of Scholarly Literature in the Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Online - International Bibliography of Book Reviews of Scholarly Literature on the Humanities and Social
  • Online - International Bibliography of Periodical Literature in the Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Online - International Bibliography of Periodical Literature on the Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Periodical Abstracts
  • ProQuest: Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts (LLBA)
  • PsycINFO
  • Psychological Abstracts
  • Referativnyi Zhurnal
  • Research Alert
  • Resource Database
  • SciVal
  • Science Direct Navigator
  • Scopus
  • Selected List of Tables of Contents of Psychiatric Periodicals
  • SocINFO
  • Social SciSearch
  • Social Science Source
  • Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI)
  • Social Sciences Index
  • Social Services Abstracts
  • Sociofile
  • Sociological Abstracts
  • Studies on Women & Gender Abstracts
  • Studies on Women & Gender Abstracts Online
  • Technical Education and Training Abstracts
  • United States Political Science Documents
  • Urban Affairs Abstracts
  • VINITI Abstracts Journal
  • Work Related Abstracts
  • Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
  • e-Psyche
  • e-Psyche (Ceased)
  • For a detailed set of Instructions to Authors and information on the online manuscript submission system, please visit:



    English Language Editing Services: Please click here for information on professional English language editing services recommended by SAGE.

    Individual Subscription, Print Only

    Institutional Subscription, E-access

    Institutional Subscription, Print Only

    Institutional Subscription & Backfile Lease, E-access Plus Backfile (All Online Content)

    Institutional Subscription, Combined (Print & E-access)

    Institutional Subscription & Backfile Lease, Combined Plus Backfile (Current Volume Print & All Online Content)

    Institutional Backfile Purchase, E-access (Content through 1998)

    Individual, Single Print Issue

    Institutional, Single Print Issue

    ePlatform, Single Issue 24 hour E-access