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Human Relations was founded in 1947 by the Tavistock Institute and the Research Center for Group Dynamics at MIT in the belief that social scientists should work together to combine their disciplinary knowledge in an attempt to understand the character and complexity of human problems. The journal has long recognised that no single discipline or research method could provide a solution to questions pertaining to relations between people, work groups and their organizations. Consequently, Human Relations has sought to establish a dialogue between scholars of different disciplinary backgrounds who seek to advance our knowledge of social relationships at and around work.
Human Relations has also sought to encourage research that seeks to relate social theory to social practice. The journal values scholarship that examines policy-making options that can improve the well being of employees and the effectiveness of organizations. Where relevant, the journal expects that research should address the implications of its findings for social action bearing in mind that social action in organizations is contested. Direct best practice advice will generally not fit the journal. We seek debate on policy choices and options for social action that is informed by the complexities of human relationships at work and the nature of political processes within organizations.
Human Relations stresses the importance of understanding the context within which events occur. The journal therefore encourages research that locates the study of issues within their organizational, and where relevant wider social and political, environment. Studies that draw upon survey data on employee attitudes, for example, would be expected to provide information on the organizational context within which the data were collected and on the rationale for the choice of the population sample. It would be normal to provide an explanation of how contextual factors may have shaped respondent attitudes and how far the data could be generalized to other contexts.