The subject is problematic as there is no agreed definition of the meaning of the concept of human resource management and little evidence of take-up and implementation, (Storey and Sisson, 1993:15).
This paper will firstly consider how human resource management is similar to personnel management and can be considered only as a new title. It will then examine how human resource management is unique and set apart from personnel management. There are many features which are associated with human resource management, however due to space limitations this paper cannot discuss them all. This paper will concentrate on individualism, integration with business planning, commitment by employees and responsibility of driving and delivering the human resource policies by all managers.
Many writers such as Torrington, Guest and Armstrong have argued that human resource management is simply a new title for the orthodox personnel management.
Guest has argued that human resource management was designed to give personnel specialists more status, (1987:506 cited by Sisson, 1989:31). For example a large-scale survey was carried out on corporate managers and found that 80% of personnel chiefs admitted they had an overall human resource policy but when asked could not describe it, (Marginson, 1988 cited in Blyton and Turnbull, 1992:3).
Human resource management can be seen as merely an ideology designed to assist unilateral management in justifying their actions by persuading employees that the organisation cares and is committed to their interests (Sisson 1989 et al). Whether or not human resource management has been implemented or not is also a controversial subject. Training and development which is seen to be essential to a human resource committed firm appears to be of low priority to British firms and little is carried out (Sisson, 1989:34). Rose (2001:100) identified four main similarities between personnel management and human resource management. These are: emphasis on integrating practice with organisational goals; vest practice firmly in line with management; emphasis on the importance of individuals developing their abilities for themselves and the organisation; to recruit the 'right' people for the 'right' jobs in order to integrate practice with organisational goals.
However it would be inappropriate to assume that there are no differences between the two.
Firstly human resource management has a more individualistic approach which contrasts to the collectivism involved with personnel management. A human resource department attempts to undermine collectivism and therefore trade unions and collective bargaining, (Sisson 1989:32). It does so by focusing on the individual through individual bargaining and performance rewarding techniques. Instead of pay being bargained over as a local or national group employees are paid according to individual effort.
Also, communication is preferred by managers to be face to face with employees including new concepts such as team briefings and quality circles where employees can give their own opinions. This eliminates the need to co-operate via trade unions which is more common among personnel management (ibid:33).
A survey carried out by Storey in 1992 studied 15 mainstream companies using a checklist including 25 key human resource management variables, (Storey and Sisson, 1993:18-19). The checklist contained critical issues which could be used to measure the movement from personnel...