An Analysis upon the Theoretical Concepts of Human Resource Management with Industrial Relations | Original Article
A diversity of opinion exists about the definition, intellectual boundaries, and major premises of the fields of human resources management (HRM) and industrial relations (IR). To help provide a common frame of reference for discussion and debate on the symposium topic, I endeavor in this paper to flesh out a consensus position on these matters. The method used is largely historical. Based on a review of the origins and evolution of the two fields from the early 20th century to the present day, I show that human resources (HR) up to the early 1960s was typically considered to be a subfield of IR. In more recent years, however, HR has largely severed its links with IR and now is widely regarded as a separate, sometimes competing and sometimes complementary field of study. In the last part of the paper I use this historical analysis, together with a review of the literatures in the two fields and the findings and conclusions of the other papers in this symposium, to identity both the commonalities and differences that distinguish the two fields in terms of their approach to science building (research) and problem solving. Today, there is considerable evidence to suggest that the more successful companies operate with more contingent forms of organization. Such forms of organizations have few layers, encourage empowerment, multiskilling and job enrichment and incorporate a wide range of Japanese manufacturing techniques and personnel systems. The impact of these changes on working practices, together with continuing high unemployment and a marked decline in union membership and influence, have influenced a move from industrial relations tow ards human resource management approaches.