finance ana management

A human resource management approach to nursing education: 1 Michael Lung, David Braithwaite, Fay Chantry Somerville Institute for Health Studies, Colchester H um an resource management (HRM) is an entirely new approach to the management of employees. In this the first of two articles, the elements that set it apart from traditional approaches to personnel management will be identified.

Mr Lung is Registrar, Mr Braithwaite is Director and Associate Professor and Miss Fay Chantry Somerville is Director of Research and Quality at the Institute for Health Studies, accredited Institute of the University of Essex, Colchester C 04 5HG

i n a superbly illuminating exposition on the development of human resource man­ agement (HRM), John Bramham (1989) ar­ gues that as early as 1820-1850, Robert Owen, an influential utopian socialist, be­ gan to link individual (employee) progress to commercial success. Bramham maintains that contributions since then, e.g. the early Hawthorne Studies in 1931 by Elton Mayo (1933) and Abraham Maslow’s on hierarchy of needs (1943), have built on this theme. He develops his argument further by noting that Drucker’s assertion that creative lead­ ership and clear goal-setting (Drucker, 1955) and McGregor’s belief that people management must be linked to the manage­ ment of the organization as a whole (McGregor, 1960) provided further impetus to the development of HRM. The 1960s spawned further contributions from theorists such as Herzberg (1966) and Agyris (1964) who emphasized the need to integrate personnel strategies within a co­ herent organizational framework. Bram­ ham (1989) argues that they highlighted the need to earn employee commitment by de­ liberate management action. As we shall sec later, this need to gain commitment rather than coerce is an essential element of HRM which sets it apart from its parent science ‘personnel management’. Bramham goes on to argue that further influences of this period can be attributed to authors such as Bennis (1959) and Schcin (1970) who both saw organizational behav­ iour and its development as ‘a central aspect of the personnel manager’s efforts’ and an attempt at collaboration and reason rather than coercion and threat. He concludes his historical trace by acknowledging the rise of manpower planning (or manpower man­ agement) as another key strand in the devel­ opment of HRM which recognized ‘that planning, technology and information had a role in people management’. One conclusion that can be drawn from Bramham’s work is that HRM is an em­

bodiment of various theories and concepts over time. This would seem to indicate that HRM as an approach is relatively new, but that the theoretical strands that have been progressively established over many dec­ ades of research are not; presumably, HRM will continue to evolve over time to reflect changing organizational needs. As econ­ omic and commercial pressures continually change and bear down, managers are forced to seek new ways to improve the productiv­ ity of employees and keep them ahead in the market.

The 1980s — a conducive climate for HRM ascendency John Storey (1989) maintains that condi­ tions of heightened competition alongside other environmental changes such as the se­ vere recession of the early 1980s initiated changes of one sort or another in order to improve the viability of organizations, and forced managers to adopt an HRM ap­ proach to the way that labour is managed. This battery of changes seems to ‘suggest a set of circumstances which impel senior managers . . . to identify the people factor as peculiarly critical in successfully manag­ ing’ these transformations. Storey passionately argues that a student of management cannot fail to notice the plethora of initiatives, programmes and in­ novations of all kinds that have become as­ sociated with the management of these changes. He lists the organizational lan­ guage that assails us in the literature: total quality; job enrichment; quality of working life (QWL); organizational development (OD); performance-related pay (PRP), etc. Bramham follows a very similar line of thinking when he identifies two key contri­ butors to the use of an HRM approach in the 1980s. First, he suggests that the ‘oil price shock of 1973 stunned many organiz­ ations into a recognition that they were vul­ nerable to outside events to an extent that they had not previously imagined’. Second,


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A human resource management approach to nursing education: 1

he suggests that customers after the war were first-time customers and it took a gen­ eration before the public became more dis­ cerning and began to demand quality as, well as quantity. The post-war managers held the view that ‘if you can make it — someone will buy it’ (Bramham, 1989). These two triggers led to many of the fea­ tures of modern organizational life: ‘cre­ ativity and flexibility to meet the unfore­ seen; and customer service and the need for quality’ (Bramham, 1989). The development of HRM through the 1930s up until the 1970s was characterized by theoretical and philosophical debate and growth, whereas the 1980s provided the right economic climate for these theories to be explored by both managers and manage­ ment theorists. It would seem quite natural, therefore, that the 1980s witnessed the emergence of HRM as an approach and a phrase that is commonly used as a synonym for personnel management.

A new language — old assumptions?

signal by th e use of the phrase’ (Storey, 1989).

This view is shared by Torrington (1989) who asserts: ‘The n atu re of HRM is not yet clear. Like most innovations, it tends to be w hatever the person speaking at the time w ants it to be.’

Karen Legge (1989), in a recent vivid cri­ tique of normative definitions of HRM and personnel management, shed some light on the definition question by suggesting that while conventional ‘models of personnel and resource management are not dissimi­ lar, some significant differences in focus exist’. She argues that the main difference points to ‘HRM being a more central man­ agement task than personnel management’ but expresses doubt about whether HRM will realize its aspirations in practice. While Legge (1989) appears to be less than forthcoming in proffering a definition, she does outline some key characteristics of HRM:

HRM would seem to be a subject for in­ tense debate, some consensus across broad themes and a fertile ground for the applica­ tion of rich metaphorical language and un­ usual classification systems. Despite broad consensus, the search for a useful definition is particularly elusive. ‘There is in fact no agreed definition of H RM but a constellation of elements . . . which in broad term s reflects w hat m any com m entators seem to w ant to

\ . . th a t hum an resource policies are reflected within strategic business plan­ ning [she points out th a t this integra­ tion would help to reinforce o r indeed change an inappropriate organizational culture); th at hum an resources are viewed as valuable and a source of com ­ petitive advantage; th a t m utually con­ sistent policies will prom ote com m it­ m ent; and th at this com m itm ent fosters a willingness in employees to act flexibly in the interests of the adoptive organiz­ ation’s pursuit of excellence.’

Hard Certainty Low risk Monopoly Established market

Personnel management

Soft Quantitative Calculativo Business Strategic Rational Conformist


Product stability Situational contingency (productivity and profit)

Hendry and Pettigrew (1986)

Core/periphery workers

Human resource management Change

Tough Love

A human resource management approach to nursing education: 1.

Human resource management (HRM) is an entirely new approach to the management of employees. In this the first of two articles, the elements that set i...
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