Human Resource Management

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Managing People

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

In this section we set out to understand the purpose of HRM, how it developed, and the range of tasks covered by human resource specialists. We will touch on:

  • The history of people management
  • Significant developments that led to modern human resource management (HRM)
  • The main differences between 'traditional' personnel management and HRM
  • The key roles played by human resource specialists

People management
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'...

Background and origins of people management
The roots of people management (and, therefore, of HRM) lie deep in the past...

Professional managers
By 1900 the USA had undergone several decades of rapid, large-scale industrialization...

The human factor
The 'science' in scientific management was doubtful. (...)

Human Relations
The US human relations movement dominated management thinking until the 1950s and was a significant influence on the development of modern HRM.

Management theory
The human relations and human factors approaches were absorbed into a broad behavioural science movement

Development of the personnel specialism
Personnel management has been a recognized function in the USA since NCR opened a personnel office in the 1890s.

Management thinking
Like fashions in hairstyle and clothing, management ideas come and go.

From personnel to human resource management
HRM-type themes, including 'human capital theory' (discussed in Part 2) and 'human asset accounting' can be found in literature dating as far back as the 1970s.

The new managerialism
Schuler (1990) emphasized that the HR function had an opportunity to shift from being an 'employee advocate'

HRM has evolved from a number of different strands of thought and is best described as a loose philosophy of people management rather than a focused methodology. It derives largely from the 20th century but incorporates older notions about the management of people at work. These ideas have many different roots and they do not fit comfortably within one coherent and self-consistent body of knowledge. One major point of debate has been the difference - if any - between HRM and 'traditional' personnel management. The evolution of HRM continues today as new management theories, fashions and fads are developed.

Further Reading

Student Guide


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