Comparison and Contrast of HRM and Industrial Relations: Definitions and Key Features

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“Human Resources Management” and “Industrial relations” has different concepts about the determination and functions of the both spheres. The essay deliberates the comparison and contrast on the key features of Human Resource Management and Industrial Relations in academic fields. Definitions of terms HRM and IR will be identified through the review of the origin and development of these two areas. Moreover, I have pointed out the theoretical scope of the two subjects and key features of HRM and IR.

Finally, there is comparison and contrast between given subjects through the historical retrospective and paper review. Definition of Industrial Relations Why don’t we mention the fact that Industrial Relations have become a subject of scientific analysis since the end of the nineteenth century, when Sidney and Beatrice Webb (1984) couple published their studies of the regulation of employment in Britain. According to Dale Yoder,” industrial relations” describe “relationships between managements and employees or among employees and their organisations that characterise or grow out of employment. The study of industrial relations may therefore be described as a study of the institutions of job regulation” – suggested Flanders (1965, 10). It is prevailed for a time is beyond satisfaction of the academic study at present. “The view that IR is the study of processes of control over work relations, and among these processes, those involving collective worker organization and action are of particular concern is more adaptable to generalise specific and precisely for the subject”. Hyman, 1975) Definition of Human Resource Management Progression of the Human relations movement in the USA was the key point of the HRM terminology’s emergency. There have been a large amount of published studies investigating the definition of HRM in diverse standing and approaches, since the first British book on HRM published in the late 1980s, which was notably known as New Perspectives on Human Resource Management (Storey 1989).

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Storey (1989) considers that HRM can be regarded as “set of interrelated policies with an ideological and philosophical underpinning”. However, He determined HRM as a specific approach to employment management which aims to achieve competitive advantage through the strategic deployment of a highly committed and capable workforce, using an integrated array of culture, structural and personnel techniques, which is a comprehensive understanding of HRM. Storey (2007).

Sisson (1990) sees HRM of four aspects of employment practice: an integration of HR policies with business planning; a shift in responsibility for HR issues form personnel specialists to line managers; a shift from the collectivism of management and, finally, an emphasis on commitment has further understanding of HRM. Ackers (2003) provided a general term on the definition of HRM, “HRM refers to all those activities associated with the management of work and people in firms and in other formal organisations”.

Basic Research Interest of Human Resource Management

The emergence of courses and models in HRM in universities and colleges is related to the fact that two influential journals, Human Resource Management Journal, edited by Keith Sisson at Warwick University, the International Journal of Human Resource Management, edited by Michael Poole at Cardiff were launched in 1990. The amount of literature was increased. Among these papers two appreciable theories is predominant leading, Fombrun et al (1984) matching model and the Harvard framework.

Matching model focused on the connection between organizational strategy and HRM, in the meanwhile Frombrun et al divided HRM into four integral parts – selection, development, appraisal and reward stressing the significance of efficiency of work performance enhancement. (Marchington, 2005) On the other hand, the Harvard framework (Beer et al, 1985) involve six basic components with a broader expand from the inside out , that is, situational factors, stakeholder interests, policy choices, outcomes, long-term consequences and a feedback loop.

However, neither of the models pays close attention to the respects of employment relationship. John Storey’s (2007) model is worth considering framework in HRM studies. Four key elements are summarized as foundational structure of HRM, that is beliefs and assumptions, strategic qualities, critical role of managers and key levers which activate HRM as an essentially tool and techniques for use by practitioners. However, currently HR changes and extends its functions beyond simple administration and personnel management.

This area is becoming one of the strategic and reactive activity in the management of both organizations and other bodies. Basic Theory of Industrial Relations Colling et al (2010) comment that “Academic industrial relations is now outdated” either the problem of the “human factor” in work have all been solved, or they are better addressed by new approaches such as “human resource management” or “organisational behaviour”’, however, in the statement by the British Universities Industrial Relations Association (BUIRA), they strongly disagree the claim. BUIRA) During the initiative academic research in IR, predominant focus upon collective institutions and processes which embody trade unions, collective bargaining and strikes are the mainstream scope of IR study. Compared with the origin IR, modern IR emphasized on the experience of work, both individual and collective, and with all sources of the rules that govern the employment relationship. Therefore, IR was widely regarded as having two major subdivisions within it.

The first dealt with the management of labour, the second with collective bargaining and methods of workforce governance (Russell Sage Foundation, 1919). It should be pointed out, that industrial relations today are in “crisis”. In academia, its traditional positions are threatened on one side by the dominance of mainstream economics and organizational behaviour, and on the other by postmodernism. The importance of work, however, is stronger than ever, and the lessons of industrial relations remain vital. Purcell) Comparison and contrast of Human Resource Management and Industrial Relations The interrelation between HRM and IR is complicated. From the one sight, HRM was considered as one of the branch of IR in the early 1960s for majority of scientists, then in modern conditions HRM has largely been regarded as a separate subject underlying distinguish perspectives and divergent points of the field. However, HRM and IR do have some parallels and common ground in employment issues, concerns about personnel and departments and humane labour.

From the above, it can be concluded that to a large extent HRM has an "inside" view of the problem according to the employment, highlighting and labour issues. While IR takes an "external" prospective with an emphasis on workers and communities. The purpose and functions are not one and the same for the two spheres. The main purpose of personnel management is an organizational effectiveness using an instrumental approach to the promotion of employees nd interest. As for the IR, the goal "is a combination of organizational performance and employee well-being, as well as the workers’ interest priorities. Generally, IR provides a multi-layer discernment of employment relationships and interconnections between the workplace, the company, the sector, the national regulatory framework in the light of multi-disciplinary approach involving sociology, political science, economics, history and law.

HR assumes conflict not inevitable and can be minimized by management; IR sees conflicts as inevitable requiring third-party intervention. HRM and IR are distinguished in various respects with different standpoints and approaches. (Sisson) Frequently, HRM teaching accepts management’s objectives uncritically, concentrates on activities at company level without exploring the societal and institutional environment, and has its disciplinary basis primarily in psychology and organizational sociology rather than the social sciences more broadly.

Despite of the inevitable irreconcilable antagonisms between the two subjects, there is a closely link of HR and IR providing a complementary foundation of the exchange and development of the employment issues. (Ackers) Conclusion The essay discusses the definition of HRM and IR and significant features in academic fields largely through an historical analysis of the two fields’ respective origins and development. HRM and IR fields are distinguished by numerous differences in their approach to research and practice.


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