Human Resource Management

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Personnel Management

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

Development of the personnel specialism

Personnel management has been a recognized function in the USA since NCR opened a personnel office in the 1890s. American personnel managers worked within a unitarist tradition, identifying closely with the objectives of their organization (key concept 1.3). It was natural for HRM to emerge comparatively smoothly from this perspective.

In other countries, notably Australia, South Africa and the UK, the personnel management function arrived more slowly and came from a number of routes. Moreover, its orientation was not entirely managerial. In Britain its origins can be traced to the 'welfare officers' employed by Quaker-owned companies such as Cadburys. At an early stage it became evident that there was an inherent conflict between their activities and those of line managers. They were not seen to have a philosophy compatible with the worldview of senior managers. The welfare officer orientation placed personnel management as a buffer between the business and its employees. In terms of 'organizational politics' this was not a politically viable position for individuals wishing to further their careers, increase their status and earn high salaries.

This excerpt from an earlier edition of the book looks at Personnel management from a historical perspective.

Human Resource Management, 4th edition goes on to consider the development of personnel management into the 20th century, including Tyson's typology and a list of 'traditional' personnel tasks.

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