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Theories of Human Resource Management

Theories of Human Resource Management

“Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education. The human mind is our fundamental resource.” — John F. Kennedy (35th President of the United States)

The greatest asset of an organization is its human resources. All organizations are made up of people and there is no management activity that might not be touched by the Human Resource Management (HRM) as it is the function within an organization that focuses on the recruitment of, management of, and providing direction for the people who work in an organization. All of the processes and programmes that are touched by people are part of the HR kingdom.

Human resource management is a contemporary, umbrella term used to describe the management and development of employees in an organization. It has become the dominant approach to people management throughout much of the world. Also called personnel or talent management, human resource management involves overseeing all things related to managing an organization’s human capital. Here is a brief analysis of the HRM theories:

Organizational life cycle theory

Cameron and Whetton advanced organizational life cycle theory which characterizes an organization’s development from formation, growth, maturity and decline to death. According to the theory, the driving force in all these stages is the nature of workforce. At the maturity stage, the organization cannot continue to grow or survive if there is no organizational structure that supports human resource creativity, innovation, teamwork and high performance, that will withstand pressure from competitors.

Role behaviour theory

Role behaviour theory aims to explain and predict the behaviour of individuals and teams in organizations, which, in turn, informs managers for the purposes of decision-making, and what steps they take on people management as well as the expected consequences thereupon. Some of the key ideas focus on the need to improve the working environment including the resources in order to stimulate new behaviour in employees in order for them to cope with the emerging demands. It includes the use of rewards to induce and promote positive work behaviour, and punishments to control the negative one.

Resource dependency theory

One of the challenges faced by managers during the economic recession in the 1970s was how organizations can best acquire scarce resources and effectively utilise them in order to remain competitive in the market. The ability to utilise one’s own resources (including financial, technological and labour), and acquire more from the external environment was one of the areas of concern in many organizations. The more organizations were able to harness resources, the more competitive they became. Therefore, resources were seen as the essence of organizational power. However, overdependence on external resources appeared to be risky owing to the uncertainties that cannot be controlled by the organization. Concerning useful labour, the emphasis shifted to seeing employees as scarce resources that should be acquired, effectively utilised, developed and retained.

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