Hrm Can Be a Key Source of Competitive Advantage for an Organisation. However, with This Comes Role Changes and New Challenges for the Hr Professional. Critically Discuss

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The use of human resource management in organisations has certainly evolved over the past decades. It has been described as a key source of competitive advantage for an organisation and there are many reasons and examples of this. However human resource management has had many role changes thus meaning new challenges for the human resource professionals. This essay will discuss these role changes and new challenges in regards to how they have been dealt with in order to achieve competitive advantage for organisations. According to Cronk et al (1994:2) “human resources are the people including their skills, knowledge and abilities, who comprise an organisation”. Human resource management refers to the “policies, practices, and systems that influence employees’ behaviour, attitudes, and performance” (Noe et al, 2006:5). In other words human resource management is basically concerned with attracting, motivating and retaining people within an employment relationship. The human resource department within an organisation has many different roles that it performs on a regular basis, as well as many responsibilities. These all depend on how big the organisation is and the industry in which it is in. Human resource management plays a role in regards to the goal of integration within an organisation, for example the human resources being integrated into strategic plans to further the organisation. According to Walton (1985) the human resource management model “is composed of policies that promote mutuality – mutual goals, mutual influence, mutual respect, mutual rewards, mutual responsibility. The theory is that policies of mutuality will elicit commitment which in turn will yield both better economic performance and greater human development”. Torrington and Hall (1987) go on to define human resources management as being “directed mainly at management needs for human resources (not necessarily employees) to be provided and deployed. There is greater emphasis on planning, monitoring, and control, rather than on problem-solving and mediation. It is totally identified with management interests, being a general management activity and is relatively distance from the workforce as a whole”. Although the above definitions were made over 20 years ago, they are still applicable in today’s organisation. Storey (1995:5) defines human resource management as “…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 integrated array of cultural, structural and personnel techniques”. Overall there are two different emphases in regards to what human resource management should be. The first approach is the ‘hard’ model which “stresses HRM’s focus the crucial importance of the close integration of human resources policies, systems and activities with business strategy, on such HR systems being used to ‘drive the strategic objectives of the organisation’ as Fomburn et al (1984:37) put it” (Legge, 1995:66). According to Storey (1987:6) the ‘hard’ model emphasises the “quantitative, calculative, and business strategic aspects of managing the headcount resource in a ‘rational’ a way for any other economic factor”. In other words its main objective is to focus on the resource management of HRM. However this approach has the risk of creating industrial conflict. In contrast, the ‘soft’ approach as been described as the ‘developmental humanism’ model, “while still emphasising the importance of integrating HR policies with business objectives, sees this as involving treating employees as valued assets, a source of competitive advantage through their commitment, adaptability and high quality” (Legge, 1995:66). Therefore this humanistic approach stresses that its competitive advantage is achieved by its employees whilst emphasising the integration of human resource practices with strategic objectives. There are many different...
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