Making sense of (mis)matched frames of reference: A dynamic cognitive theory of (in)stability in HR practices

John W. Budd, Dionne Pohler, Wei Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


By returning to an old insight that frames of reference influence action, we theorize that actors’ frames influence their desired HR practices, and these practices will be stable if managers and employees share similar frames. When actors’ frames are mismatched, however, HR practices can violate employee expectations and trigger a sensemaking process, potentially leading to framing contests and conflict. We hypothesize predicted patterns of conflict and expected outcomes depending on the nature of the mismatched frames. Allowing for mismatched frames uniquely highlights the importance of recognizing managers’ and employees’ frames for understanding HR outcomes and conflicts observed in practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)268-289
Number of pages22
JournalIndustrial Relations
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 31 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Associate Editor John-Paul Ferguson, Marco Hauptmeier, Matthew Bidwell, Maite Tapia, Peter Berg, Christian Ibsen, Salil Sapre, and audience members at Cardiff University, Macquarie University, Newcastle University, the ILERA World Congress, and the annual meetings of AIRAANZ, CIRA, and SASE for helpful comments.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Regents of the University of California.


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