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National SovereigntyThe last assumption amounts to another division of labor,in this case in the global arena between state institutionsand non-state actors such as business corporations. Theassumption holds the concept of the sovereignty of nation-states over their territory and domestic affairs, therebyforbidding the intervention of external agents in suchissues. States are defined as the primary institutional agentsin an interstate system of relations. This assumption stillhas a decisive influence in the way we think about HRpractices. The principle of national sovereignty, the right ofpolitical self determination, and the principle of non-in-tervention of one state in the internal affairs of anotherstate not only describe international relations but alsodelineate the rights and obligations of non-state actors andcitizens.Decent Work: The Moral Status of Labor in Human Resource Management 839123From these assumptions, it follows that nation-stateshave the capacities and the political legitimacy to deal withmost regulatory issues of economic activities (which,according to ‘‘Property Rights’’ section, will be strictlylimited in a capitalist system). Labor laws and local cus-toms are the normative standards when it comes to defineHR practices. The same applies to the rights of other rel-evant stakeholders. Legal standards and contracts matter,as they establish what is owed to each group and person.Laws and regulations are supposed to be the outcomesof political deliberation in the context of democratic soci-eties and the rule of law. These ideals, in turn, assume theindependency of the judiciary, the accountability andtransparency of government officials, and the integrity oflegal procedures (Waldron 2012). Furthermore, the state issupposed to have in place effective enforcement capacities(Lafont 2015).The only actor that can draw on the resources of law andlegitimate enforcement power is the nation-state. It is notthe business of business firms to take on the responsibilitiesof nation-states. Corporations do not have any specialresponsibility no matter how powerful they may bebecause, after all, they lack political legitimacy. Both HRmanagers and scholars work under the assumption thatcorporations operate in the context of functioning regula-tory frameworks of national governments who take care oftheir citizens’ welfare (Koontz 1969; Bhattacharya andWright 2005). Indeed, national laws are still viewed as themain standard when it comes to the evaluation of interna-tional HRM: ‘‘national governments generally play a leadrole in developing the framework of legal regulation ofemployment’’ (Edwards and Kuruvilla 2005, p. 10).Table 1 summarizes the foundational assumptions in theHRM field and practices.Five Ideals Under FireWe are witnessing, perhaps as never before, an overload ofradical criticisms against capitalism. The internationalprotest movement is just one of many outings of this dis-enchantment. Critics point their fingers to business firmsand the capitalist system. Business executives, politicians,and even business schools are blamed for the current (andrecent) social and economic crises. Our confidence incapitalism and market institutions has been seriously ero-ded. Business firms and business practices—including HRpractices—are under serious social scrutiny preciselybecause of the assumptions on which they rely. It has beenattributed to Keynes that capitalism is ‘‘the astonishingbelief that the nastiest motives of the nastiest men some-how or other work for the best results in the best of allpossible worlds.’’ (Schuster 1951) But the evidenceapparently indicates that it does not even work for the bestresults for everyone.Besides the reasons we all have, as intellectuals, tocritically examine the foundational beliefs of our researchand HR systems, we also have prudential reasons toquestion the deeply held ideals and unexamined ideas thatmodel our research and the HR function on grounds ofsocial legitimacy. This is where we turn in this section.Autonomy Versus IntegrationWhile the autonomy thesis is still very popular both inethics and management, a growing number of scholars arequestioning the is/ought distinction and the separation ofbusiness and ethics (Weaver and Trevin?o 1994). Freeman(2010), for one, pleads that the autonomy thesis is falla-cious and should be rejected. Instead, he advocates what heTable 1 Foundational assumptions in HRMIdeals Assumption ReferencesThe autonomy ofethics andbusinessWhile HR practices and HRM research are concerned with matters of fact,ethics is about values and what ought to beRousseau (2006), Pfeffer (1998), Kagan(1998) and Alzola (2011)The priority ofproperty rightsBoth HR practices and academic scholarship take the ideal of the widestpossible level of private property, including labor as propertyGaus (2010), Honore? (1961), Epstein (1985)and Hayek (1945)The virtues ofcompetitivemarketsThe virtues of competition—e.g., social welfare—are associated with thestructure of the market rather than with the benevolence of employers andworkersCoase (1960), Luban (1994) and Schefflerand Munoz-Darde? (2005)


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