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Purpose and Definition of HRM by Different Authors
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Resource, in its organizational context, is defined as ‘anything that could be thought of as a strength or
weakness of a given firm’ including tangible and intangible assets (Wernerfelt, 1984: 172). There are three
main organizational resources: human resources, financial resources and technological resources.
The term human resource management has been subject to considerable scrutiny and its philosophy and
character has been the focus of continuous debate, and a widely accepted definition does not exists,
however, below are some definitions of HRM from its early years to date which can be useful in capturing
a glimpse of its philosophy and use:
The purpose of HRM is to ensure that the employees of an organization are used in such a way that the
employer obtains the greatest possible benefit from their abilities and the employees obtain both material
and psychological rewards from their work (Graham, 1978).
Definition of HRM
“HRM is a distinctive approach to employment management which seeks to achieve competitive
advantage through the strategic deployment of a highly committed and capable workforce, using an array
of cultural, structural and personnel techniques.” Storey (1995: 5).
“HRM is a managerial perspective which argues the need to establish an integrated series of personnel
policies to support organizational strategy.” Buchanan and Huczynski (2004: 679).
“HRM is a strategic approach to managing employment relations which emphasizes that leveraging
people’s capabilities is critical to achieving competitive advantage, this being achieved through a
distinctive set of integrated employment policies, programmes and practices.” Bratton and Gold (2007: 7).
Although there is no consensus on the definition or the characteristics of HRM it can be seen from the
above definitions that HRM is a combination of people-oriented management practices that views
employees as assets, not costs; and its main aim is to create and maintain a skilful and committed
workforce to gain competitive advantage.
The differences in the interpretation of HRM have created two different schools of thought: soft and hard
variants of HRM (Storey, 1992). Soft and hard HRM are also often defined as two main models of HRM.
Soft HRM focuses on employee training, development, commitment and participation. It is used to define
HR functions aimed to develop motivation, quality and commitment of employees; hard HRM, on the
other hand, concentrates mostly on strategy where human resources are used to achieve organisational
goals. It is also associated with cost control and head count strategies, especially in business processes like
downsizing, lowering the wages, shortening comfort breaks, etc. (Beardwell and Claydon, 2007).
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