This is a fundamental argument amongst academics within the HRM realms. Is HRM a new approach? Opinion is divided. Some academics believe that, yes, it is a new approach which differs itself from the traditional personnel and industrial relations management by means of integration. On the other hand, many other academics view HRM as simply new terminology which describes the next stage of the evolutionary process of people management, that it is evolutionary rather than revolutionary. However, it is undoubtedly true and agreed upon that the 1980’s is most defiantly the era at which HRM, whatever its meaning, began to emerge, and, that there has been US influence in this emergence.
The US has helped shape and influence UK opinion. A large part of this influence is taken from the academic literature which is exemplified in the production of theoretical models. Models such as the Harvard model by Beer and Spector (1985) influenced UK academics such as Guest (1987, 1989) who produced his own model. An important feature drawn from the work of Guest, and others, is the notion of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ HRM . Hard versions of HRM place emphasis on:
Soft HRM would appear to be more synonymous with service industries, where the product is generally intangible, customers often receive an experience provided by the ‘human resource,’ thus commitment is sought. The human resource is perhaps more valuable, their impact greater and they may not be as easily replaced as perhaps a production operative in the manufacturing industry.
Hard HRM evidently shows no distinguishable features pointing towards an initiative seeking to increase efficiency and control by effective use of the human asset. Prime example of hard HRM is human asset accounting / utility analysis which calculates in monitory terms the value of an organisations human assets. Proponents of the approach are of the opinion that:
“… General managers and human resource
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Identify and explain those factors that led to the rise of this concept in the UK at this time.
Stating that HRM ‘arrived’ in the UK during the last…
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