Human Resource Management

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Management Thinking

Based on Human Resource Management, 4th edition, by Alan Price

Management thinking

Like fashions in hairstyle and clothing, management ideas come and go. Today's best-selling management concept will not survive long before being overtaken by the next 'big idea'. Significantly, however, a consistent theme has prevailed for more than two decades: the most successful organizations make the most effective use of their people - their human resources.

The emergence of HRM was part of a major shift in the nature and meaning of management towards the end of the twentieth century. This happened for a number of reasons. Perhaps most significantly, major developments in the structure and intensity of international competition forced companies to make radical changes in their working practices.

From the 1970s onwards, managers in the industrialized countries felt themselves to be on a roller-coaster of change, expected to deliver improved business performance by whatever means they could muster. Their own careers and rewards were increasingly tied to those improvements and many were despatched to the ranks of the unemployed for not acting quickly and imaginatively enough. Caught between the need to manage decisively and fear of failure, managers sought credible new ideas as a potential route for survival.

Human Resource Management, 4th edition continues with a discussion of the Japanese role model and its effects on western management thinking.

Points to consider

Although it has been somewhat eclipsed in the public eye since by the advance of other Asian economies, particularly China, Japanese competition had a major impact on the West during the 1970s and 1980s. The shock of that competition caused management theorists in developed countries (particularly in the USA) to question the very foundations of management as practised in large organizations. Elements of Japanese-style people management have become part of the accepted concepts and practices of modern HRM. Those elements include: commitment, flexibility, continuous improvement, 'just-in-time' inventory management and a general valuing of the human resource.

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