Human resource management

Human Resource Management (HRM, HR) is the management of an organization's employees.[1] While human resource management is sometimes referred to as a "soft" management skill, effective practice within an organization requires a strategic focus to ensure that people resources can facilitate the achievement of organizational goals. Effective human resource management also contains an element of risk management for an organization which, as a minimum, ensures legislative compliance.



Fundamentally, human resource management is based on the assumption that employees are individuals with varying goals and needs. Human resources should not be categorized with basic business resources (trucks, filing cabinets, etc.).

Practicing good human resource management (HRM) enables managers of an enterprise to express their goals with specificity, increasing worker comprehension of goals, and provide the necessary resources to promote successfully accomplishment of said goals. When HRM is properly employed members of the workforce are expressive of the goals and operating practices of the firm.

HRM is seen by practitioners in the field as a more innovative view of workplace management than the traditional approach. Its techniques force the managers of an enterprise to express their goals with specificity so that they can be understood and undertaken by the workforce, and to provide the resources needed for them to successfully accomplish their assignments. As such, HRM techniques, when properly practiced, are expressive of the goals and operating practices of the enterprise overall. HRM is also seen by many to have a key role in risk reduction within organisations.[2]

Synonyms such as personnel management are often used in a more restricted sense to describe activities that are necessary in the recruiting of a workforce, providing its members with payroll and benefits, and administrating their work-life needs. Torrington and Hall (1987) define personnel management as being:

“a series of activities which: first enable working people and their employing organisations to agree about the objectives and nature of their working relationship and, secondly, ensures that the agreement is fulfilled" (p. 49).

While Miller (1987) suggests that HRM relates to:

".......those decisions and actions which concern the management of employees at all levels in the business and which are related to the implementation of strategies directed towards creating and sustaining competitive advantage" (p. 352).

Human resource management is sometimes referred to as:

  • Organizational management
  • Personnel administration
  • Manpower management
  • Human capital management
  • Industrial management[3][4]

Academic theory

Research in the area of HRM has much to contribute to the organizational practice of HRM. For the last 20 years, empirical work has paid particular attention to the link between the practice of HRM and organizational performance, evident in improved employee commitment, lower levels of absenteeism and turnover, higher levels of skills and therefore higher productivity, enhanced quality and efficiency.[5] This area of work is sometimes referred to as 'Strategic HRM' or SHRM[6] (not to be confused with the Society for Human Resource Management).

Within SHRM three strands of work can be observed[7]: Best practice, Best Fit and the Resource Based View (RBV).

The notion of best practice – sometimes called 'high commitment' HRM – proposes that the adoption of certain best practices in HRM will result in better organizational performance. Perhaps the most popular work in this area is that of Pfeffer [8] who argued that there were seven best practices for achieving competitive advantage through people and 'building profits by putting people first'. These practices included: providing employment security, selective hiring, extensive training, sharing information, self-managed teams, high pay based on company performance and the reduction of status differentials. However, there is a huge number of studies which provide evidence of best practices, usually implemented in coherent bundles, and therefore it is difficult to draw generalized conclusions about which is the 'best' way (For a comparison of different sets of best practices see Becker and Gerhart, 1996 [9]

Best fit, or the contingency approach to HRM, argues that HRM improves performance where there is a close vertical fit between the HRM practices and the company's strategy. This link ensures close coherence between the HR people processes and policies and the external market or business strategy. There are a range of theories about the nature of this vertical integration. For example, a set of 'life cycle' models argue that HR policies and practices can be mapped onto the stage of an organization's development or life cycle.[10] Competitive advantage models take Porter's (1985) ideas about strategic choice and map a range of HR practices onto the organization's choice of competitive strategy. Finally 'configuration models' [11] provide a more sophisticated approach which advocates a close examination of the organisation's strategy in order to determine the appropriate HR policies and practices. However, this approach assumes that the strategy of the organisation can be identified – many organisations exist in a state of flux and development.

The Resource Based View (RBV), argued by some to be at the foundation of modern HRM,[12] focusses on the internal resources of the organisation and how they contribute to competitive advantage. The uniqueness of these resources is preferred to homogeneity and HRM has a central role in developing human resources that are valuable, rare, difficult to copy or substitute and that are effectively organized.

Overall, the theory of HRM argues that the goal of human resource management is to help an organization to meet strategic goals by attracting, and maintaining employees and also to manage them effectively. The key word here perhaps is "fit", i.e. a HRM approach seeks to ensure a fit between the management of an organization's employees, and the overall strategic direction of the company (Miller, 1989).

The basic premise of the academic theory of HRM is that humans are not machines, therefore we need to have an interdisciplinary examination of people in the workplace. Fields such as psychology, industrial relations, industrial engineering, sociology, economics, and critical theories: postmodernism, post-structuralism play a major role. Many colleges and universities offer bachelor and master degrees in Human Resources Management or in Human Resources and Industrial Relations.

One widely used scheme to describe the role of HRM, developed by Dave Ulrich, defines 4 fields for the HRM function:[13]

  • Strategic partner - Aligning HR and business strategy: ‘organisational diagnosis’
  • Administration Expert - Reengineering organisation processes: ‘shared services’
  • Employee champion - Listening and responding to employees: ‘providing resources to employees’
  • Change Agent - Managing transformation and change: ‘ensuring capacity for change’.

Business practice

Human resources management involves several processes. Together they are supposed to achieve the above mentioned goal. These processes can be performed in an HR department, but some tasks can also be outsourced or performed by line-managers or other departments. When effectively integrated they provide significant economic benefit to the company.[14]

HRM strategy

An HRM strategy pertains to the means as to how to implement the specific functions of Human Resource Management. An organization's HR function may possess recruitment and selection policies, disciplinary procedures, reward/recognition policies, an HR plan, or learning and development policies, however all of these functional areas of HRM need to be aligned and correlated, in order to correspond with the overall business strategy. An HRM strategy thus is an overall plan, concerning the implementation of specific HRM functional areas.

An HRM strategy typically consists of the following factors:-

  • "Best fit" and "best practice" – meaning that there is correlation between the HRM strategy and the overall corporate strategy. As HRM as a field seeks to manage human resources in order to achieve properly organizational goals, an organization's HRM strategy seeks to accomplish such management by applying a firm's personnel needs with the goals/objectives of the organisation. As an example, a firm selling cars could have a corporate strategy of increasing car sales by 10% over a five year period. Accordingly, the HRM strategy would seek to facilitate how exactly to manage personnel in order to achieve the 10% figure. Specific HRM functions, such as recruitment and selection, reward/recognition, an HR plan, or learning and development policies, would be tailored to achieve the corporate objectives.
  • Close co-operation (at least in theory) between HR and the top/senior management, in the development of the corporate strategy. Theoretically, a senior HR representative should be present when an organization's corporate objectives are devised. This is so, since it is a firm's personnel , or provide a service. The personnel's proper management is vital in the firm being successful, or even existing as a going concern. Thus, HR can be seen as one of the critical departments within the functional area of an organization.
  • Continual monitoring of the strategy, via employee feedback, surveys, etc.

The implementation of an HR strategy is not always required, and may depend on a number of factors, namely the size of the firm, the organizational culture within the firm or the industry that the firm operates in and also the people in the firm.

An HRM strategy can be divided, in general, into two facets – the people strategy and the HR functional strategy. The people strategy pertains to the point listed in the first paragraph, namely the careful correlation of HRM policies/actions to attain the goals laid down in the corporate strategy. The HR functional strategy relates to the policies employed within the HR functional area itself, regarding the management of persons internal to it, to ensure its own departmental goals are met.HRM strategies can also be depicted in the form of models. The best fit strategies relate to Hard HRM model and people centric strategies relate to Soft HRM strategies.

Hard HRM

The Hard human resource management model or strategic fit model is a model with an epitome of utilizing the people working in the organization as any other resource of the organization. [15] This model emphasize on the usage of the people working in the organization in the same manner as any other resources are used. It enunciates the concept that people should be hired cheaply and must be brewed and made to work as fully as possible. The essence of the hard model approach is the synergy between the organizational strategies and human resource management.People are visualized as a submissive resource and are managed and controlled by a logical approach to make assure the optimal utilization of the people for the attainment of the competitive advantage.[16]

Soft HRM

The epitome of the soft model of human resource management is the creation of a strategic relationship between the employees and the organization.The soft model emphasizes on the interests of distinctive organization’s stakeholders and the mapping of organization’s goals with the stakeholders’ interests.[17]The theme of soft human resource management model is that people are intangible assets as this valuable resource can not be transacted in terms of selling and buying and their value is beyond the traditional financial codes.People working in the organization are treated in a unique manner as compare to the other resources in the organization.[18] Soft human resource management essence is the mutual admiration between organization and employees. [19] Soft human resource management concentrates on the humanist side of human resource management which has an epitome of people motivation by buying their inputs on vital decisions and encouraging the team work within the organization.

Careers and education

Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations was the world's first school for college-level study in HRM

Several universities offer programs of study pertaining to HRM and broader fields. Cornell University created the world's first school for college-level study in HRM (ILR School).[20] University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign also now has a school dedicated to the study of HRM, while several business schools also house a center or department dedicated to such studies; e.g., University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Minnesota, Michigan State University, Ohio State University, Roosevelt University, Lindenwood University, and Purdue University.

There are both generalist and specialist HRM jobs. There are careers involved with employment, recruitment and placement and these are usually conducted by interviewers, EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) specialists or college recruiters. Training and development specialism is often conducted by trainers and orientation specialists. Compensation and benefits tasks are handled by compensation analysts, salary administrators, and benefits administrators.

Professional organizations

The main Professional organizations in HRM include the Society for Human Resource Management, the Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI), the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD.


The Human Resources Management (HRM) function includes a variety of activities, and key among them is deciding the staffing needs of an organization and whether to use independent contractors or hire employees to fill these needs, recruiting and training the best employees, ensuring they are high performers, dealing with performance issues, and ensuring your personnel and management practices conform to various regulations. Activities also include managing your approach to employee benefits and compensation, employee records and personnel policies. Usually small businesses (for-profit or nonprofit) have to carry out these activities themselves because they can't yet afford part- or full-time help. However, they should always ensure that employees have—and are aware of—personnel policies which conform to current regulations. These policies are often in the form of employee manuals, which all employees have.

Note that some people distinguish a difference between HRM (a major management activity) and HRD (Human Resource Development, a profession). Those people might include HRM in HRD, explaining that HRD includes the broader range of activities to develop personnel inside of organizations, including, e.g., career development, training, organization development, etc.

There is a long-standing argument about where HR-related functions should be organized into large organizations, e.g., "should HR be in the Organization Development department or the other way around?"

The HRM function and HRD profession have undergone major changes over the past 20–30 years. Many years ago, large organizations looked to the "Personnel Department," mostly to manage the paperwork around hiring and paying people. More recently, organizations consider the "HR Department" as playing an important role in staffing, training and helping to manage people so that people and the organization are performing at maximum capability in a highly fulfilling manner.

See also


  1. ^ Armstrong, Michael (2006). A Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice (10th ed.). London: Kogan Page. ISBN 0-7494-4631-5. OCLC 62282248. 
  2. ^ Towers, David. "Human Resource Management essays". Retrieved 2007-10-17. 
  3. ^ "Personnel Management". The Columbia Encyclopedia (Sixth ed.). Columbia University Press. 3001. Retrieved 2007-10-17. "personnel management – see industrial management" 
  4. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica (kl ed.). "Personnel administration is also frequently called personnel management, industrial relations, employee relations" 
  5. ^ Golding, N. (2010) "Strategic Human Resource Management" in Beardwell, J. and Claydon, T. (2010) Human Resource Management A Contemporary Approach, FT Prentice Hall
  6. ^ Storey, J. (2007) "What is strategic HRM?" in Storey, J. (2007) Human Resource Management: A Critical Text, Thompson
  7. ^ Paauwe, J. (2009) 'HRM and Performance: Achievement, Methodological Issues and Prospects' Journal of Management Studies, 46 (1)
  8. ^ Pfeffer, J. (1994) Competitive advantage through people, Harvard Business School Press
  9. ^ Becker, B. and Gerhart, B. (1996) 'The impact of human resource management on organizational performance' Academy of Management Journal 39 (4) 779–801
  10. ^ Kochan, T. and Barocci, T. (1985) Human Resource Management and Industrial Relations, LittleBrown
  11. ^ Delery, J. and Doty, H. (1996) 'Modes of theorizing in SHRM' Academy of Management Journal, 39(4), 802–835
  12. ^ Prahalad, C. and Hamel, G. (1990) 'The core competences of the organisation' Harvard Business Review
  13. ^ Ulrich, Dave (1996). Human Resource Champions. The next agenda for adding value and delivering results. Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business School Press. ISBN 0-87584-719-6. OCLC 34704904. 
  14. ^ The Strategic Impact of High Performance Work Systems
  15. ^ Budhwar,P. and Aryee, S.,2008. Strategic Human Resource Management: Building Research through practice. London. CIPD
  16. ^ Mckeena, E. and Beech, N.,2008. Human Resource Management:A Concise Analysis.2nd ed.England. FT Prentice Hall.
  17. ^ Banfield, P. and Rebecca, K., 2008.Introduction to Human Resource Management .Oxford. Oxford University Press
  18. ^ Wilson, J.P., 2009. Human Resource Development: Learning and Training for individuals and organizations.2nd ed.United Kingdom.Kogan Page Ltd
  19. ^ Price, A., 2007. Human Resource Management: in business context.3rd ed. London.Cengage Learning
  20. ^ "About Cornell ILR". Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Retrieved 23 August 2009. 

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • human resource management — ➔ management * * * human resource management UK US noun [U] (ABBREVIATION HRM, or HR) ► HR the activity of managing a company’s employees, for example, by employing new workers, training them, managing their employment records, an …   Financial and business terms

  • Human Resource Management — Personalwesen (auch Personalwirtschaft, Personalmanagement oder engl. Human Resource Management, Abk.: HRM) bezeichnet den Bereich der Betriebswirtschaft, der sich mit dem Produktionsfaktor Arbeit bzw. mit dem Personal auseinandersetzt. Moderne… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • human resource management — žmonių išteklių valdymas statusas T sritis Politika apibrėžtis Visų darbuotojų naudojimas siekiant naudingos organizacijos veiklos ir asmeninės gerovės. Skirtingai nuo šiuolaikinio žmonių išteklių valdymo, tradicinis personalo valdymas buvo… …   Politikos mokslų enciklopedinis žodynas

  • Human Resource Management — neuere, im angelsächsischen Bereich mittlerweile durchgängig benutzte Bezeichnung für ⇡ Personalmanagement. Betont werden soll der Ressourcencharakter des Personals. Zu inhaltlichen Aspekten vgl. ⇡ Personalwirtschaft. Literatursuche zu  Human… …   Lexikon der Economics

  • human-resource management — HRM The management of people to achieve individual behaviour and performance that will enhance an organization s effectiveness. HRM encourages individuals to set personal goals and rewards, guiding them to shape their behaviour in accordance with …   Big dictionary of business and management

  • Human Resource Management — noun All methods and functions concerning the mobilization and development of personnel as human resources, with the objective of efficiency and greater productivity in a company, government administration, or other organization …   Wiktionary

  • human resource management — Gen Mgt see HRM …   The ultimate business dictionary

  • Human resource management system — HRMS redirects here. For the ship prefix, see His/Her Dutch Majesty s Ship.A Human Resource Management System (HRMS, EHRMS), Human Resource Information System (HRIS), HR Technology or also called HR modules, refers to the systems and processes at …   Wikipedia

  • Society for Human Resource Management — Infobox Organization name = Society for Human Resource Management size = 120px caption = motto = Leading people. Leading organizations. formation = 1948 type = Professional body headquarters = Alexandria, Virginia location = membership = 225,000… …   Wikipedia

  • Society for Human Resource Management — La Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), dont le siège est situé à Alexandria, Virginie, est une association américaine de professionnels de la gestion des ressources humaines. Fondée 1948, SHRM compte actuellement plus de 225 000 membres …   Wikipédia en Français

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.