Based on Human Resource Management, 4th edition, by Alan Price
Arguably, HRM has become the dominant approach to people management in English-speaking countries.
But it is important to stress that HRM has not 'come out of nowhere'. There is a long history of
attempts to achieve an understanding of human behaviour in the workplace. Throughout the 20th
century and earlier, practitioners and academics deweloped theories and practices to explain
and influence human behaviour at work. HRM has absorbed ideas and techniques from a wide range of these theories and
practical tools. In effect, HRM is a synthesis of themes and concepts drawn from a long
history of work, more recent management theories and social science research. (...)
Background and origins of people management
The roots of people management (and, therefore, of HRM) lie deep in the past. Just as
the tasks that have to be carried out in modern organizations are allocated to different jobs and the people
who perform those jobs, humans in ancient societies divided work between themselves (...)
See Human Resource Management 4th edition for further discussion on the division of labour, the evolution of a
managerial class, the Industrial Revolution and the concept of alienation.
To get a feel for how HR issues were regarded in the past, dip into some
articles from 1858-1859. Count yourselves lucky that you are not Victorian domestic servants:
Points to consider
1 Work has been organized for a very long time and
many issues we find today have been addressed in the past. But each generation finds solutions
that fit the culture and beliefs of the time.
2 Think about how the size of an enterprise can
make a critical difference when it comes to managing people. Using commonsense and personal control may be
adequate (this is also questionable) when dealing with small numbers of employees, but are
completely inadequate as a means of managing large numbers of people.
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