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Human resource management

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Human Resource Management (HRM) is both an academic theory and a business practice. It is based on the notion that employees are firstly human, and secondly should NOT be treated as a basic business resource. HRM is also seen as an understanding of the human aspect of a company and its strategic importance. HRM is seen as moving on from a simple "personnel" approach (or was supposed to) because it is preventative of potential problems, and secondly it should be a major aspect of the company philosophy, in which all managers and employees are champions of HRM-based policies and philosophy.


Academic Theory

The basic premise of the academic theory of HRM, is that Humans are not machines. It therefore notes that we need to have an interdisciplinary examination of people in the workplace. Therefore fields such as psychology, sociology, and critical theories: postmodernism, post-structuralism.

Critical Theory

Critics of HRM, have noted that HRM suffers the problem of the connotation of its own name, treating humans as a resource. It is important to consider, as a special issue of the Journal "Organization" does, the aspects of which HRM are human and inhuman (Steyaert and Janssens: 1999).

Rhetoric has had an important consideration within the understanding of critical theory, of the rhetorics and realities of HRM (Legge 2005). Postmodernism and post-structuralism theories play an important part here because we can consider the importance of understanding and contemplating the reality of language and understanding.

Management Gurus & Rationalism has had the effect of attempting to move academic theory into a rational and sellable product, which management gurus and consultants can sell to business leaders.

New Label: Some critics have noted that in practice, while the philosophy of HRM has changed the workplace, the department or manager who used to have "Personnel Manager" on their door, has now changed that sign to "Human Resource Manager" and that is the only change.

Empowerment has been noted as a HRM practice which by critics has been noted more as a pseudo-empowerment, based on attitudinal shaping (Wilkinson 1998).

Other such HRM practices have been noted as hidden within rhetoric, and many examples particularly within Call Centres are much more Orwellian, and hide the reality, through attitudinal shaping (Wilkinson 1998).


Legge, K. 2005. Human Resource Management: Rhetorics and Realities. Anniversary ed. Macmillan.

Steyaert, C. and Janssens, M. 1999. eds. Organization (Special Issue) [online]. Available from: Sage Publications on the World Wide Web: [Accessed 16.02.2004]. (Note: Online resource is from an Academic Website, which may require specialist access or payment).

Wilkinson, A. 1998. Empowerment: theory and practice. Personnel Review. [online]. Vol. 27(1): 40-56. Available from: Emerald on the World Wide Web: [Accessed 16.02.2004]. (Note: Online resource is from an Academic Website, which may require specialist access or payment).

See also

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