The way in which organizations manage their people has always been pivotal to their performance, long before formal human resource management coalesced into a definable and somewhat fashionable discipline in the mid-1980s. Earlier campaigns for worker welfare in the 18th and 19th century were
driven by a mix of humanitarian, religious, philanthropic, and business motives, and sought workplace amenities such as medical care, housing, and libraries. At the same time functionaries and departments specialising in HR processes such as hiring, payroll, and record keeping emerged.
This Very Short Introduction
describes how the key players and watershed moments in labour history shaped the state of human resource management today. In our era of globalization human resource management has to contend with a number of new and increasingly complex factors, such as global sourcing,
regional trade agreements and labour standards, remote working, strategic alliances, and innovation driven by competition. As traditional sources of competitive advantage such as access to capital, protected markets, or proprietary technologies evaporate, firms increasingly look to human resource
management to offer a competitive edge. In the 'laboratory' of university departments or in the gritty and sweaty reality of the shop floor, there is no single model of human resource management. Instead human resource management today is as able to impact everything from small owner-managed shops
in Brick Lane to the high tech behemoths of Silicon Valley. Adrian Wilkinson shows how human resource management covers the relations between employees and their employers, and explores the range of HR practices, processes, and line management activities.
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