What Were the Socioeconomic Changes in the 1980’s Which Contributed to the Emerging Popularity of Human Resource Management? Does the Concept of Human Resource Management Present a Radical Novelty or Is It a Mere

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What were the socioeconomic changes in the 1980’s which contributed to the emerging popularity of Human Resource Management? Does the concept of Human Resource Management present a radical novelty or is it a mere repackaging of personnel management? Introduction

During the 1980’s, a new management concept referred to as ‘Human Resource Management’ (HRM) became very fashionable. At that time, many academics questioned whether HMR was simply a renaming of the previously known personnel management (PM) tool, or whether it was, as some claimed, ‘a radically different philosophy and approach to management of people at work’ (1). Firstly, it seems appropriate to define HRM. However, the definition of HRM this has been widely debated, and so for our purposes, we will use Stephen Bach’s view that it ‘can be viewed as the involvement of particular strategies and approaches towards management of considerable labour’. We must also consider what we mean by “socioeconomic”, which we can state as the relationship between economic activity and social life. In this essay, the similarities and differences between HRM and PM are analysed in an attempt to see whether there is more to HRM than novel rhetoric. Socioeconomic Changes

Towards the end of the 1970’s and the early part of the 1980’s, both the US and UK economies experienced recessions of relative magnitude. Both governments sought new economic solutions, and adopted policies known as “Thatcherism and Reaganomics”, that contained monetarism and free market economics. One of the consequences of this radical period was the reforming and reshaping of what many described as the ‘conventional model of industrial relations’ (2). These new policies inevitably led to the empowerment of employers, and resulted in substantive destruction of trade union power at that time and eventually became the turning point of the era of trade unionism. There were a number of consequences as a result of this reshaping of the economy; probably...
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