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Industrial & Organisational : Introduction : Personnel : Organizational psychology : Occupations: Work environment: Index : Outline

Personnel management also known as Human resource management (HRM) is the strategic and coherent approach to the management of an organization's most valued assets - the people working there who individually and collectively contribute to the achievement of the objectives of the business.[1] The terms "human resource management" and "human resources" (HR) have largely replaced the term "personnel management" as a description of the processes involved in managing people in organizations.[1] In simple sense, HRM means employing people, developing their resources, utilizing, maintaining and compensating their services in tune with the job and organizational requirement.


The function of personnel managers include:


Its features include:

  • Organizational management
  • Personnel administration
  • Manpower management
  • Industrial management[2][3]

But these traditional expressions are becoming less common for the theoretical discipline. Sometimes even employee and industrial relations are confusingly listed as synonyms,[4] although these normally refer to the relationship between management and workers and the behavior of workers in companies.

The theoretical discipline is based primarily on the assumption that employees are individuals with varying goals and needs, and as such should not be thought of as basic business resources, such as trucks and filing cabinets. The field takes a positive view of workers, assuming that virtually all wish to contribute to the enterprise productively, and that the main obstacles to their endeavors are lack of knowledge, insufficient training, and failures of process.

Human Resource Management(HRM) is seen by practitioners in the field as a more innovative view of workplace management than the traditional approach. Its techniques force the managers of an enterprise to express their goals with specificity so that they can be understood and undertaken by the workforce, and to provide the resources needed for them to successfully accomplish their assignments. As such, HRM techniques, when properly practiced, are expressive of the goals and operating practices of the enterprise overall. HRM is also seen by many to have a key role in risk reduction within organizations.[5]

Synonyms such as personnel management are often used in a more restricted sense to describe activities that are necessary in the recruiting of a workforce, providing its members with payroll and benefits, and administrating their work-life needs. So if we move to actual definitions, Torrington and Hall (1987) define personnel management as being:

“a series of activities which: first enable working people and their employing organisations to agree about the objectives and nature of their working relationship and, secondly, ensures that the agreement is fulfilled" (p. 49).

While Miller (1987) suggests that HRM relates to:

".......those decisions and actions which concern the management of employees at all levels in the business and which are related to the implementation of strategies directed towards creating and sustaining competitive advantage" (p. 352).

Academic theory

The goal of human resource management is to help an organization to meet strategic goals by attracting, and maintaining employees and also to manage them effectively. The key word here perhaps is "fit", i.e. a HRM approach seeks to ensure a fit between the management of an organization's employees, and the overall strategic direction of the company (Miller, 1989).

The basic premise of the academic theory of HRM is that humans are not machines, therefore we need to have an interdisciplinary examination of people in the workplace. Fields such as psychology, industrial engineering, industrial, Legal/Paralegal Studies and organizational psychology, industrial relations, sociology, and critical theories: postmodernism, post-structuralism play a major role. Many colleges and universities offer bachelor and master degrees in Human Resources Management.

One widely used scheme to describe the role of HRM, developed by Dave Ulrich, defines 4 fields for the HRM function:[6]

However, many HR functions these days struggle to get beyond the roles of administration and employee champion, and are seen rather as reactive than strategically proactive partners for the top management. In addition, HR organizations also have the difficulty in proving how their activities and processes add value to the company. Only in the recent years HR scholars and HR professionals are focusing to develop models that can measure if HR adds value.[7]

Business practice

Human resources management comprises several processes. Together they are supposed to achieve the above mentioned goal. These processes can be performed in an HR department, but some tasks can also be outsourced or performed by line-managers or other departments. When effectively integrated they provide significant economic benefit to the company.[8]

Careers and education

File:Facade of Ives Hall.PNG

Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations was the world's first school for college-level study in HRM

The sort of careers available in HRM are varied. There are generalist HRM jobs such as human resource assistant. There are careers involved with employment, recruitment and placement and these are usually conducted by interviewers, EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) specialists or college recruiters. Training and development specialism is often conducted by trainers and orientation specialists. Compensation and benefits tasks are handled by compensation analysts, salary administrators, and benefits administrators.

Several universities offer programs of study pertaining to HRM and broader fields. Cornell University created the world's first school for college-level study in HRM (ILR School).[9] University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign also now has a school dedicated to the study of HRM, while several business schools also house a center or department dedicated to such studies; e.g., University of Minnesota, Michigan State University, Ohio State University, and Purdue University.

Professional organizations

Professional organizations in HRM include the Society for Human Resource Management, the Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI), the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), the International Public Management Association for HR (IPMA-HR), Management Association of Nepal (MAN) and the International Personnel Management Association of Canada (IPMA-Canada), Human Capital Institute (HCI)


The Human Resources Management (HRM) function includes a variety of activities, and key among them is deciding what staffing needs you have and whether to use independent contractors or hire employees to fill these needs, recruiting and training the best employees, ensuring they are high performers, dealing with performance issues, and ensuring your personnel and management practices conform to various regulations. Activities also include managing your approach to employee benefits and compensation, employee records and personnel policies. Usually small businesses (for-profit or nonprofit) have to carry out these activities themselves because they can't yet afford part- or full-time help. However, they should always ensure that employees have—and are aware of—personnel policies which conform to current regulations. These policies are often in the form of employee manuals, which all employees have.

Note that some people distinguish a difference between HRM (a major management activity) and HRD (Human Resource Development, a profession). Those people might include HRM in HRD, explaining that HRD includes the broader range of activities to develop personnel inside of organizations, including, eg, career development, training, organization development, etc.

There is a long-standing argument about where HR-related functions should be organized into large organizations, eg, "should HR be in the Organization Development department or the other way around?"

The HRM function and HRD profession have undergone tremendous change over the past 20–30 years. Many years ago, large organizations looked to the "Personnel Department," mostly to manage the paperwork around hiring and paying people. More recently, organizations consider the "HR Department" as playing a major role in staffing, training and helping to manage people so that people and the organization are performing at maximum capability in a highly fulfilling manner.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Armstrong, Michael (2006). A Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice, 10th, London: Kogan Page.
  2. "personnel management". The Columbia Encyclopedia (Sixth Edition). (2005). Columbia University Press. Retrieved on 2007-10-17. “personnel management - see industrial management” 
  3. Encyclopædia Britannica (kl). “Personnel administration is also frequently called personnel management, industrial relations, employee relations” 
  4. Encyclopædia Britannica. 
  5. Towers, David Human Resource Management essays. URL accessed on 2007-10-17.
  6. Ulrich, Dave (1996). Human Resource Champions. The next agenda for adding value and delivering results, Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business School Press.
  7. . "HR, Show me the money; Presenting an exploratory model that can measure if HR adds value".
  8. The Strategic Impact of High Performance Work Systems
  9. About Cornell ILR. Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations. URL accessed on 23 August 2009.
  • Wilkinson, A. (1988). Empowerment: theory and practice. Personnel Review 27 (1): 40–56.
  • Legge, Karen (2004). Human Resource Management: Rhetorics and Realities, Anniversary, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

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