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Human and Inhuman Resources Management Published: Sunday, June 20, 1999 By: Dr. Manuel Angel Morales

There is a lot of agitation these days regarding the scenes of human resources practices. Researchers and academicians are talking… When the concept of human resources emerged in the 1980s, the expectations of finding ways to manage the social and intellectual capital in organizations were high. Different models and perspectives were designed linking the organizational strategy to personnel choices of selecting, appraising, rewarding and developing employees, and their impact on outcomes such as commitment, competence, productivity, quality and flexibility. Human resources management was seen as a way to maximize benefits from the human resources potential through aligning the individual to the organization.

The excitement of the 1980s has been followed by an intensive questioning of the capacity of this formula in moving away from the traditional personnel policy of seeing people as cost, falling into the same trap by treating people as resources. If you add to this list the conventional and/or cosmetic character of what some organizations are doing and the lack of self-reflection exercises, then it is possible to understand the questioning wave of human resources foundation and credibility. The point is that researchers, academicians and practitioners, all have to investigate and discuss seriously the future of human resources, and the way this profession can be conceived as a theoretical domain and organizational practice. The core argument of a group of scholars and researchers, including ourselves, is that we have to find ways of theorizing (creating real new knowledge) which develop the human resources management concept and new concepts in human resources management. In such an attempt to develop the new theory of human resources, it is very important to focus on the human as a dynamic concept to explore.

A statement of alert: there is currently little theoretical work on human resources, and without new theory there no new knowledge; without new knowledge there is no real development, just appearances.

If we go directly to the literature, (more than 500 books in the 1990s) and following the provocative work of Chris Steyert, Maddy Janssens, Susan Sneider and Ellen O`Connor, among others, we readily confront three ways of researching human resources management: (1) scholars who are oriented toward designing methods, techniques and tools; (2) those who examine the practice and experience of current organizations for voicing purposes; (3) and those who reflect in a critical way on the concept of human resource management and its implementation in practice. The real purpose of this last trend is to improve intervention and transformation processes.

Although the three perspectives show legitimacy, our strong argument is for taking a more reflective approach to the study and practice of human resources management as a necessary condition for reorienting how we understand this domain, especially in the richness of its potentiality. In no way are we suggesting for the elimination of this practice, but to the contrary saying that whenever transformation ventures are not self-evident, then change and transformation becomes urgent, difficult and quite possible. If the theory and practice is claiming that it is human and that it is oriented to the social wellness of the people, we have to find out if the realities and experiences that can be considered inhuman have been abolished, thus fulfilling the humanistic predicament. The new human resources management has to do a huge knowledgeable effort to live up to it promises, explaining its strategic pretensions and taking care of people as in its humanistic discourse. We suggest the organization of conferences, conventions, seminars, workshops and round-tables for searching for the future meaning of the H in human resource management as a core work for the profession. This research and suggested path relates to swimming at the margins of conventional writing and practice, allowing that in the way to the future the inhuman surrenders to the human resources practice. The H is dynamic concept that nourishes our breath, brains, feelings and notions of equity, beauty and wellness.

 


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