The Definitional Issues Surrounding the Debate of the Reality of Human Resource Management

Topics: Human resource management, Human resources, Management Pages: 6 (1964 words) Published: June 11, 2013



This essay focuses on the definitional issues surrounding the debate on the reality of Human Resource Management (HRM). This concept is used to describe management activities or to denote a particular approach to people management. This essay reviews a number of HRM concepts and some models of HRM put forward by various authors and some schools of thought. Originally it is an American concept that has been copied by all the countries in the globe. In an attempt to evaluate which HRM practice is better, this essay will compare HRM as defined by Americans and by other countries. In conclusion, a position is made of which HRM is better and aspects to be included in a universal definition of this concept.


Human Resources Management (HRM) is an American concept that emerged from the dire need to create a workforce free from conflict where employers and employees work together to achieve the same goals in the early 1980’s. In the UK it became prominent as a result of recession, globalization, technology and increased competition (Beardwell & Holden, 1994). HRM is a concept that is diverse with the notion of hard and soft HRM; strategic and emphasizes on integration; commitment-oriented; based on the belief that people should be treated as human capital (assets); unitarist rather than pluralist, individualistic instead of collective in its approach to employee relations; the delivery of HRM is a line management responsibility and focused on business values (Armstrong 2006, Pg. 11). It is also important to note that HRM works through human resource systems that bring human resource philosophies, strategies, policies, processes, practices and programmes together in a coherent way. However, this essay will highlight a few definitions of HRM by a few authors and will focus only on the Harvard framework developed by Beer et al. 1984. Other models exist such as Michigan model by Fombrun, Tich and Devanna, Guest, Choice, Storey, Warwick, Dowling& Schuler and Legge just to name. The second part will be an attempt to review HRM in an international perspective with a comparative analysis of HRM in America. Finally a position will be made on which HRM concept is better and what aspect to include in a universal definition.

HRM is defined by Armstrong, 2006 as being a well planned and consistent way to managing people who work in an organization to accomplish its objectives. Storey (2001) believes that HRM is a clear approach to employment management with the aim of achieving competitive advantage through the strategic development of a capable and committed workforce, using a range of personnel, cultural and structural techniques. It is a continuous process which involves both managerial and operative functions like planning, coordinating, organizing, controlling, compensation, development, maintenance and integration of employees in order to ensure the effective utilization of human resource within the organization. Although HRM is a managerial issue it has become a concern for academic debates in the HR field it began with the differences between Personnel Management and HRM; then later added Industrial Relations into the concept with a focus on HRM strategies; then the integration of HRM into the business strategy; the delegation of HRM to line managers and finally how HRM help organizations to gain competitive advantage (Budhwar & Debrah, 2001). This led to changes in the human resource function from reactive, prescriptive and administrative to proactive, descriptive and executive (Boxall, 1994; Legge, 1995). HRM is usually categorized as hard and soft. Hard HRM where employees are regarded as exploitable resources used in order to achieve the business strategy. Soft HRM were employees are valued and adaptable assets and the organization takes...

References: 2. Ian Beardwell et al. (2004) Human Resource Management. A contemporary Approach ( 4th Edn) Prentice Hall, UK
3. Dessler G
4. Bratton J. & Gold J. (2007) Human Resource Management. Theory and Practice (4th Edn) Palgrave Macmillan
5. Budwar P
6. Armstrong (2006) A Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice (10th Edn) Kogan Page Ltd
7. Beardwell J
1. Gabbai J. (2001). Current Human Resource Management Practices in Britain. Retrieved on June, 12 2001 (Accessed 16 October, 2012)
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