Lesson 1.HRM: map, model or theory?

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Lesson 1: HRM: map, model or theory?

Age seems to have raised the status of Human Resource Management (HRM). In the United States the Harvard version started life as part of an MBA syllabus in 1981, became a modestly named ‘map of HRM territory’ (Beer et al., 1984) and then developed into the ‘Harvard model’, with the editor of the recently launched International Journal of Human Resource Management proclaiming it to be the ‘most influential and most familiar approach so far as the international scholarly and business communities are concerned (Pooe, 1990:3).

To resolve the question of whether HRM is a map, model or theory, consider the following :

  • As a model or theory, HRM is elevated to a position of scholarly and practical importance in terms of its analytical and predictive powers
  • The map seeks to represent the relations within a firm (determinants and consequences of HRM policies) and these isomorphic properties would constitute the status of a model.

The roots of people management can be traced back to the Industrial Revolution in England in the late 18th century. The second world war of 1935-45 increased the demand of labor and personnel specialists, and in 1946, those professionals working in the people management established the Institute of Personnel Management (IPM). Whereas personnel management based its legitimacy and influence on its ability to deal with the uncertainties steeming from full employment and trade union growth, HRM concentrated more attention on internal sources of competitive advantage. According to Michael Poole, HRM is viewed as “strategic”, that is involved, that is, it regard people as the most important single asset of the organization. It is proactive in its relationship with people and seeks to enhance in its relationship with people and seeks to enhance organizational performance. HRM is a mixture of both soft and hard versions. The hard version emphasizes the quantitative calculative and business-strategic aspects of managing the headcounts resource in as ‘rational’ a way as for any other economic factor. By contrast, the soft version traces its roots to the human-relations school: it emphasizes communication, motivation and leadership.

Assignment • What role does human resource management play in organization