Critically Contrasting Personnel Management and Human Resource Management Essay

1. Introduction

Over the last few decennaries with the oncoming of the industrial revolution, the work topographic point has seen a alteration in stance with regard to its people working in organisations. The cardinal subject resonates around the of all time increasing importance being given to the employees or the ‘human resource ‘ . It started with what theoreticians referred to as forces direction. Some theoreticians believe that forces direction evolved in to what is now called human resource direction while others draw important strategic and operational differences between them ( Torrington et al. 2005 ) . The basic difference that the research workers find between these two is their country of focal point within the administration. Personnel direction looks chiefly into administrative facets of the administration while, Human resource direction, on the other manus, looks after developing, retaining and turning the human aspect the administration. In most administrations today we see a turning importance given to this map at strategic degrees.

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In this essay, the theory that exists for forces direction and human resource direction will be critically contrasted and analysed to come to a decision in the argument mentioned in the old paragraph. A figure of theoreticians look at each of these as independent elements every bit good as relational elements and this essay explains the constitution of the context of each of the elements i.e. forces direction and human resource direction, the alteration or the sensed transmutation of forces direction to human resource direction and drawing differences and similarities found in the bing literature to once and for all specify whether there is a difference between the two or is Human Resource Management a term which is strictly an development of forces direction.


There has been a important sum of literature that has been critical of personnel direction of being low on organizational position in the recent old ages. The perceptual experience is widely held that the map of forces direction is limited in a reactive and administrative place and fails to keep relevancy to the purposes of the administration. To clarify this perceptual experience it should work at a strategic degree ( Lundy, 1994 ) . Writers such as Drucker ( 1968 ) , Watson ( 1977 ) , Legge ( 1978 ) and Rowland and Summers ( 1981 ) associate forces direction to an administrative function. This could include paysheet, keeping patterns with regard to ordinance and other such activities. Torrington and Hall ( 1987 ) noted that forces direction looks towards the line director for the as a cardinal driver for the integrating to the overall organisational ends. However the deficiency of strategic way sometimes causes a struggle with the overall function of the director which is more strategic in nature.

Lundy ( 1994 ) noted that the constitution of the trade brotherhoods in UK along with the subsequent public assistance motion that began with the oncoming of the industrial revolution in the early nineteenth century became the underlying cause of this struggle. Trade brotherhoods meant the workers were represented, were informed and could now demand and contend for their rights while line directors and authoritiess considered labour as trade good. This deficiency of strategic composing in forces direction began to see the outgrowth of Human Resource Management as a replacing term. The booby traps that were one time faced with the administrative mentality of the forces direction were being eliminated by extended the boundaries to bring forth a more strategic function within the organisation. Hence, human resource planning became aligned and was acquiring integrated with the overall organisational scheme.

HRM, harmonizing to Bratton and Gold ( 2003 ) , is “ a strategic attack to pull offing employment dealingss which emphasizes that leveraging people ‘s capablenesss is critical in accomplishing competitory advantage ” . Torrington et Al ( 2005 ) describe human resource direction as a ‘philosophy ‘ that trades with the transporting out of organizational activities that are people oriented and that extends to those who are non employed in the administration. Human resource direction is now, in the English speech production universe, the most extensively used term that describes the activities of the direction in footings of employment relationship ( Boxall and Purcell 2003 ) . A important figure of alterations took topographic point around 1994 with relation to merchandise brotherhoods, organizational restructuring. There was besides a rise in the untypical signifiers of employment. With regard to these alterations Beardwell and Holden ( 1994 ) suggest that:

Any appraisal of the outgrowth of Human Resource Management has, at least, to take history of this altering context of employment and supply some accounts as to the relationships that exist between the part HRM has made to some of these alterations on one manus and, on the other manus, the impact that such alterations have had on the theory and pattern of HRM itself ( p. 5 ) .

The human resource direction can be looked at in the visible radiation of five facets. First, the senior direction considers the people jobs at a more serious degree. The overall deputation of duty lies with the line director. Second, squad work, pass oning, and authorization within employees is given a high degree of importance. Third, employee development through the facilitation of preparation allows the employee to lend more well to the organisation. Fourth, every employee is considered as an person. His or her demands are carefully assessed and accent is given to them. Last, the overall tantrum is considered to be around the greater strategic tantrum of the organisation.


Personnel direction is conventionally believed as holding small focal point over the concern links that are broader in nature and it is believed that it concentrates more on the activities of the forces professionals and besides on the operational techniques within the administration. Thus the map of it is seen as low – administrative record maintaining and care of people. In contrast to this map, human resource direction is considered to concentrate more on the concern linkages and besides in comparing to personnel direction it is normally labelled as an established and good people direction pattern ( Redman and Wilkinson 2006 ) . Legge 1995 ( in Beardwell and Claydon 2007: 9 ) , lists out three important points that show that human resource direction differs from personnel direction.

First, HRM is concerned with the duty of the top directors for the direction of the civilization. Second, she states that forces direction ‘appears to be something performed on subsidiaries by directors instead than something that the latter experience themselves ‘ . Finally, she says that human resource direction defines the function of the line- directors instead than forces directors. She farther argues that the three differences stated above emphasize on human resource direction, in theory, of being more of a cardinal strategic direction undertaking as compared to personnel direction. Armstrong ( 2006 ) states that human resource direction lays more accent on the strategic tantrum and integrating and its doctrine is direction and concern oriented. He contrasts Human resource direction from forces direction on the footing that accomplishment of committedness and the direction of the administration civilization are given more accent by HRM than forces direction.

Storey ( 1992 ) and Guest ( 1987 ) each carefully differentiate forces direction and human resource direction. The attacks considered by both besides vary. Storey ( 1992 ) looks at the differences in visible radiation of the practical facet ; Guest ( 1987 ) draws more on the psychological facets between the two.

Points of difference between Personnel direction and HRM as noted by Storey ( 1992 )

Personal Management


1. Beliefs and premises


Behaviour Referent


Careful word picture of written contracts

Norms/ imposts and pattern.


Aim to travel ‘beyond contract ‘ .

Valuess or mission.

De – emphasized.

2. Strategic facets

Cardinal dealingss


Corporate program

Speed of action

Labour direction.


Fringy to.




Cardinal to.


3. Line Management

Management function

Key directors



Transactional leading.

Forces specializers.

Indirect communicating.

High ( e.g. ‘parity ‘ an issue ) .

Transformational leading.

General/business/line directors.

Direct communicating.

Low ( e.g. ‘parity ‘ non seen as relevant ) .

4. Cardinal levers



Job design

Training and development

Foci of attending for intercessions

Separate, fringy undertaking.

Job rating ( fixed classs ) .

Division of labor.

Controlled entree to classs.

Personnel processs.

Integrated, cardinal undertaking.

Performance related.


Learning companies.

Wide – runing cultural, structural and personnel schemes.

Table: Difference between Personnel Management and Human Resource Management. Beginning: Storey, 1992: 35

In the tabular array above, Storey ( 1992 ) lists possible differences that are present between forces direction and human resource direction. These differences describe the strategic facet of forces direction as ‘labour direction ‘ and of Human resource direction as ‘customer direction ‘ . Conventional personnel direction focuses more on regulations and norms, imposts of the administration and the patterns which have already been established, whereas the human resource direction tends to be more inclined towards giving importance to the values and mission that are set for the administration.

The personnel direction attack is peculiar about the constitution of policies and processs within the administration and it enforces conformance of employees to these regulations through ‘careful word picture of written contracts ‘ . In contrast to this facet of forces direction, Human Resource Management tends to travel by the spirit of the contract. The construction of occupation design followed by forces direction is division of labour i.e. different people are assigned to different countries of expertness, where as Human resource direction involves teamwork in which a group of people are assigned to carry through a end.

Points of difference between forces direction ( PM ) and human resource direction ( HRM ) as noted by Guest ( 1987 )
Personnel Management
Human Resource Management
Psychological Contract

Fair twenty-four hours ‘s work for a just twenty-four hours ‘s wage

Reciprocal committedness

Locus of control

External control

Internal control

Employee dealingss

Pluralist attack


Low Trust

Unitarist attack


High trust

Forming rules


Forma/defined functions

Top down scheme



Flexible functions

Bottom up scheme


Policy Goals

Administrative efficiency

Standard public presentation

Cost minimisation

Adaptive work force

Performance betterment

Maximal use

In the above tabular array, Guest ( 1987 ) examines the chief differences between forces direction and human resource direction. Like Storey, Guest besides analysis a figure of sections of the administration to pull the chief differences between the two debated footings. The psychological contract, which is the common understanding reached between the employee and employer, was the first component of difference. While forces direction considered it as obligatory from both parties to compensate harmonizing to work and vice-a-verse. The control in instance of forces direction was an external entity while the human resource direction stemmed from within.

Another cardinal factor was trust. Guest believes that the forces direction failed to bring forth employee trust which in the instance of human resource direction was the key. The mechanistic attack of forces direction meant a formal, exceed down and centralised attack to pull offing employees. Human resource direction on the other manus is considered to be more flexible arising from employees and de-centralized. The overall purpose of forces direction, harmonizing to Guest, looked at pulling the most knock from the vaulting horse while minimising the cost. However the ends for human resource direction have taken on a function of bettering public presentation by accommodating the work force to maximise the end product.

Painting the overall scenario, the differences cited by Guest ( 1987 ) and Storey ( 1992 ) reflect the fact that there lie differences between forces direction and human resource direction on both practical every bit good as psychological foreparts. The overall difference in its application has been considered to pull a clearer apprehension of the differences cited above. However, literature besides considers a figure of cardinal similarities which underlie both facets of employee direction.

4. Similarity

Schemes of both Personnel Management and Human resource direction flow from the concern scheme. Both have the position that pull offing people is the duty of the line directors. ‘Soft ‘ HRM and Personnel direction have indistinguishable values with respect to the ‘respect of the person ‘ , develop people to accomplish and ease their ain satisfaction and the organizational aims to the maximal degree ( Armstrong, 2006 ) . Poole ( 1999 ) notes that despite the differences stated there are a figure of factors that provide for a figure of clear similarities between human resource direction and forces direction.

Emphasis on integrating: Poole ( 1999 ) notes that both these theoretical accounts emphasize on their integrating with the overall organisational ends.

Line direction as the driver: He notes that one time once more human resource direction and forces direction expression to the line direction to deploy the human resource patterns and policies.

Individual development: Poole ( 1999 ) considers the theoretical account of Personnel Management and contrasts it with the theoretical accounts of Human resource direction and concludes that both province the significance of developing the person employee to the degree of his highest abilities within the organisation. Besides while sing work in this field he found similarities in context laid down sing the dependent nature of the employees.

Importance of choice and occupation allotment: Poole finds that the right allotment of occupations to the appropriate people is an of import factor in the integrating with the organisation. It is deserving observing that the integrating with the organisation was the basic similarity between human resource direction and forces direction.


Keenoy and Anthony ( 1992: 235 ) see the relation between the employment relationship and human resource direction as rhetoric and metaphors. HRM its ego is shown in a positive visible radiation when words such as ‘nurturing ‘ and ‘organic ‘ are brought into the image. However, other footings which described forces direction were reactive, monitoring and bureaucratic provided a negative intension. In relation to the dominant outgrowth of HRM, Legge ( 1995 ) argued:

The importance of HRM, and its evident overshadowing of forces direction, lies merely every bit much ( and perchance more so ) in its map as a rhetoric about how employees should be managed to accomplish competitory advantage than a consistent new pattern ( p. fourteen )

Legge ( in Storey 1995 ) further notes that there has been hype due to the being, premises and epistemology of ‘soft ‘ and ‘hard ‘ theoretical accounts of HRM. This harmonizing to Bach and Sisson ( 2000 ) can be done to accomplish a province of control over the work force. The ‘hard ‘ theoretical account of HRM trades with the employees in a less humanistic attack by mentioning to the more quantitative nature of cut downing costs, pull offing caput count and the overall demand of the hr. While the ‘soft ‘ theoretical account of HRM trades with the development of the employees and an overall well being of the employee. Bach and Sisson ( 2000 ) noted that the ‘soft ‘ HRM camouflages the negative facets of the ‘hard ‘ HRM to paint a positive image. In pattern, both the elements of ‘hard ‘ and ‘soft ‘ HRM exist together and impacts the employee straight. Reviews of HRM such as Keenoy find that ambiguity in the term Human Resource Management is a singular characteristic in itself. ( Beardwell and Claydon 2007 )

6. Decision

Human Resource Management has become the most widely used term which refer to the activities of the direction of the organisation towards its employees. There are a figure of arguments environing the significance, definition and range of HRM and forces direction. Some critics find a figure of similarities between the two while others find important contrasts between the two. Legge ( 1995 ) sets forward the position that there is no major difference between the rules and values of the two but Storey ( 1992 ) found a figure of facets that differentiate the two.

To summarize, forces direction is widely observed as holding an operational conventional to people direction with the purpose at accomplishing efficiency within the norms of supplying justness to the employees work. From the literature, decisions can be drawn that the trouble faced by forces direction in obtaining credibleness in the eyes of the employees paved the manner for the rise of Human Resource Management. The concern about the difference between forces direction and the extent to which HRM represented a positive or negative stage in people ‘s direction gave rise to the argument relating to the differences and similarities of HRM and conventional Personnel Management.

In drumhead, it can be noted from the literature that the inevitable development of forces direction was fuelled by the deficiency of trust with employees and gave rise to the outgrowth of Human Resource Management. The ‘hard ‘ and ‘soft ‘ theoretical accounts of Human Resource Management lay grounds to this development by exposing features of the more mechanistic facets of forces direction.


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