Human Resource Management - The emergence of HRM

  • Created by: jkav
  • Created on: 23-10-17 19:23

The emergence of HRM

Despite taking an inclusive approach in this book, in order to understand the significance of HRM in contemporary firms it is important to discuss in greater depth its more specific meaning, as it helps explain why and hw the term 'human resource management' came to be so widely used. The term 'personnel management' has historically been used to denote the area of managerial activity, most usually a distinct department, that is principally concerned with adminstering the workforce (for example, in respect of payroll and contractual issues), providing training, ensuring legal compliance (for example, in the area of health and safety) and managing collective industrial relations between the firm and trade unions. In mnay firms, personnel management has traditionally been constituted as a support function, existing on the periphery of organisational and strategic decision-making, which held a relatively lowly operational status (Redman and Wilkinson, 2006). In the mid-1980s, however, patterns of innovative forms of people management began to emerge that held more strategic ambitions (Storey, 2007). Subsequently, over the course of the past three decades, people management has gradually developed and, whilst acknowledging that in many firms its scope is rather wider today than in the past. Torrington et al (2008) suggest that rather than representing a revolution in people management practices, the emergence of HRM represents an evolution towards more effective practice. Similarly, Watson (2009) stresses that HRM is 'not some new, or even recent, managerial or academic 'fad' or some novel or groundbreaking invention that is peculiar to modern circumstances. It is a profoundly commonsensical notion that would be sensibly taken up by people in charge of any human enterprise in which tasks are undertaken and where there is a concern for that enterprise to continue into the future as a viable social and economic unit. (2009: 8-9)

In other words, HRM is the latest manifestation of ongoing attempts to allocate work tasks within a social group and…


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