University of Oxford

Human Resource Management-true Perspective Supported by UN

Human Resource Management-True perspective

Ever since the inception of organization there has been an undeniable interplay of the human functions and “The Organization”. History bears evidence to organizational activity indicating knowledge of many ideas later expressed as “scientific management”. Archaeology has unearthed extensive accumulations of relics from past civilizations that reflect elaborate organizational achievements. The mammoth walls of ancient Babylon, the Pyramids of the Pharons , Temples of Aztecs , and most Mughal Architecture rival the accomplishments of the modern industrial technology. Hannibal’s Crossing of the Alps in 218 B.C with troops and equipment was a remarkable organizational feat.

19th century  industrial revolution gave birth to the intentional and deliberate organization. Having reached inertia in the initial speedy  production the managers soon found out that it was the absence of deliberate man management  that was marring the progress. They  set about managing the human resources , in order to get the best  out of them. It was here that a firm and unbreakable link was discovered between the person and the organization. It was  superior organization with its deep consideration of the human resource that has given a clear edge to the western countries.

Recent Global Trends in HRM

The term human resource is variously defined in political economy and economics, where it was traditionally called labor, one of three factors of production. Its use within corporations continues to define common conceptions of the term.

Modern analysis emphasizes that human beings are not predictable commodity “resources” with definitions totally controlled by contract, but are creative and social beings that make contributions beyond “labor” to a society and to civilization. The broad term human capital has evolved to contain the complexity of this term, and in macroeconomics the term “firm-specific human capital” has evolved to represent the original meaning of term “human resources”.

Advocating the central role of “human resources” or human capital in enterprises and societies has been a traditional role of socialist parties, who claim that value is primarily created by their activity, and accordingly justifies a larger claim of profits or relief from these enterprises or societies. Critics say this is just a bargaining tactic, which grew out of various practices of medieval European guilds into the contemporary trade union and collective bargaining unit.

A contrary view, common to capitalist parties, is that it is the infrastructure capital and (what they call) intellectual capital owned and fused by “management” that provides most value in financial capital terms. This likewise justifies a bargaining position and a general view that “human resources” are interchangeable.

A significant sign of consensus on this latter point is the ISO 9000 series of standards, which requires a “job description” of every participant in a productive enterprise. In general, heavily unionized nations such as France and Germany have adopted and encouraged such descriptions especially within trade unions. One view of this trend is that a strong social consensus on political economy and a good social welfare system facilitates labor mobility and tends to make the entire economy more productive, as labor can move from one enterprise to another with little controversy or difficulty in adapting.

HRM and Organization – An Inter relationship

In its most primitive sense, organization is a body of human beings, certain instruments and tools put together for attainment of shared goals.

[1]  Weber’s organization goes a step further to say “The main components of an organizing effort also include detailed procedures and rules, a clearly outlined organizational hierarchy, and mainly impersonal relationship between organization members”. Its fundamentals are the same as recognized by the early organization theorists. . Four fundamental ingredients are the qualifying organs of any organization. The modern organizations may have hundreds of sub factors but they will always be founded on these original ones.  It is therefore established that without the deliberate and planned participation of humans, an organization doesn’t exist.

Over a period of time various types and categories of organizations have come up to suit the requirements of organizers and planners, but essentially all of these belong to three basic categories.

United Nations Stance on HRM

Over time the United Nations have come to more generally support the developing nations’ point of view, and have requested significant offsetting “foreign aid” contributions so that a developing nation losing human capital does not lose the capacity to continue to train new people in trades, professions, and the arts including all sectors of professional advancement.

The debate regarding “human resources” versus human capital thus in many ways echoes the debate regarding natural resources versus natural capital. An extreme version of this view is that historical inequities such as African slavery must be compensated by current developed nations, which benefited from stolen “human resources” as they were developing. This is an extremely controversial view, but it echoes the general theme of converting human capital to “human resources” and thus greatly diminishing its value to the host society, i.e. “Africa”, as it is put to narrow imitative use as “labor” in the using society.

In the very narrow context of corporate “human resources”, there is a contrasting pull to reflect and require workplace diversity that echoes the diversity of a global customer base. Foreign language and culture skills, ingenuity, humor, and careful listening, are examples of traits that such programs typically require. It would appear that these evidence a general shift to the human capital point of view, and an acknowledgement that human beings do contribute much more to a productive enterprise than “work”: they bring their character, their ethics, their creativity, their social connections, and in some cases even their pets and children, and alter the character of a workplace. The term corporate culture is used to characterize such processes.

An important controversy regarding labor mobility illustrates the broader philosophical issue with usage of the phrase “human resources”: governments of developing nations often regard developed nations that encourage immigration or “guest workers” as appropriating human capital that is rightfully part of the developing nation and required to further its growth as a civilization. They argue that this appropriation is similar to colonial commodity fiat wherein a colonizing European power would define an arbitrary price for natural resources, extracting which diminished national natural capital.

[1] .         Max Weber , The Theory of Social and Economic Organisation , New York , Oxford University Press , P337.

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