Live to Work

Article # 01
Difference between Human Resource Management and Personnel Management

Many students of management and laypeople often hear the term HRM or Human Resource Management and wonder about the difference between HRM and the traditional term Personnel Management. In earlier times, the Personnel Manager of a factory or firm was the person in charge of ensuring employee welfare and interceding between the management and the employees. In recent times, the term has been replaced with HR manager. This article looks at the differences in usage and scope of functions as well as the underlying theory behind these nomenclatures. In the section on introducing HRM, we briefly looked at the main differences. We shall look into them in more detail here.

Personnel Management Traditionally the term personnel management was used to refer to the set of activities concerning the workforce which included staffing, payroll, contractual obligations and other administrative tasks. In this respect, personnel management encompasses the range of activities that are to do with managing the workforce rather than resources. Personnel Management is more administrative in nature and the Personnel Manager’s main job is to ensure that the needs of the workforce as they pertain to their immediate concerns are taken care of. Further, personnel managers typically played the role of mediators between the management and the employees and hence there was always the feeling that personnel management was not in tune with the objectives of the management.

Human Resource Management With the advent of resource centric organizations in recent decades, it has become imperative to put “people first” as well as secure management objectives of maximizing the ROI (Return on Investment) on the resources. This has led to the development of the modern HRM function which is primarily concerned with ensuring the fulfillment of management objectives and at the same time ensuring that the needs of the resources are taken care of. In this way, HRM differs from personnel management not only in its broader scope but also in the way in which its mission is defined. HRM goes beyond the administrative tasks of personnel management and encompasses a broad vision of how management would like the resources to contribute to the success of the organization.

Personnel Management and HRM: A Paradigm Shift ? Cynics might point to the fact that whatever term we use, it is finally “about managing people”. The answer to this would be that the way in which people are managed says a lot about the approach that the firm is taking. For instance, traditional manufacturing units had personnel managers whereas the services firms have HR managers. While it is tempting to view Personnel Management as archaic and HRM as modern, we have to recognize the fact that each serves or served the purpose for which they were instituted. Personnel Management was effective in the “smokestack” era and HRM is effective in the 21st century and this definitely reflects a paradigm shift in the practice of managing people.

Conclusion It is clear from the above paragraphs that HRM denotes a shift in focus and strategy and is in tune with the needs of the modern organization. HRM concentrates on the planning, monitoring and control aspects of resources whereas Personnel Management was largely about mediating between the management and employees. Many experts view Personnel Management as being workforce centered whereas HRM is resource centered. In conclusion, the differences between these two terms have to be viewed through the prism of people management through the times and in context of the industry that is being studied.

Article # 02
Difference between Human Resource Management and Personnel Management

Human resource management and personnel management - shift in focus
Evolution of personnel function The origins of Personnel management can be traced to the concern about exploitation of people working in factories and was introduced through law of the land in most of the countries to deal with issues pertaining to grievances and welfare of the workmen.

As the dynamics in relations between trade unions and management changed the personnel management responsibilities grew beyond welfare to other areas such as ensuring amicable industrial relations and effective personnel administration. During this period the emphasis was on formulating and monitoring conformance to rules and procedures.

The last three decades saw, the changes in the competitive environment brought about by growing competition, which resulted in availability of wide choice for customers and that in turn, gave a new dimension to marketplace – customers’ preference, which in effect drives companies to continuously innovate and provide the kind of value to customer that competition cannot match.

With this shift in business dynamics, the realization dawned on companies that people and their knowledge is the only source of sustainable competitive advantage, as other resources related to materials, equipment, technology, finances etc. have proved short lived in the absence of human capital capable of deploying these resources effectively and efficiently. Companies now bank on people's domain knowledge combined with their awareness of markets (customers' expectations & competitors' moves in particular) for develping innovative new products & services and thus creating enhanced value proposition for customers. This marked change in attitude of managements saw the emergence of concept of Human Resource Management which characterizes implementation of personnel policies to maximize objectives of organizational integrity, employee commitment, flexibility and quality (Guest, 1987).

Pardigm shift in thrust As per the experts, this could have been a result of decline of problems in labour relations and that traditional P&IR managers have shifted their attention from fire fighting of industrial relations and monitoring compliance to procedures to issues such as employee selection, training and development, performance appraisal, performance management, employee communication and involvement.

The figure above shows the role of personnel function (on Y-Axis) at different periods of time during (X-Axis) and thrust areas in each role or period.

Personnel management traditionally is aimed largely at non-managers, where as HRM treats management development as an equally important issue. Traditionally personnel management viewed organizational culture and leadership as issues concerned with organizational development, where as HRM highlights responsibility for managing organization culture and leadership issues. HRM concerns with setting consistent HR policies which reflect and communicate “core values” of the company. It is through building culture and sharing common values among people that companies are trying to ensure that their acts and decision are based on best interest of the company rather than stressing on conventional rules and procedures, thus achieving the element of speed. The strategic significance However more and more companies have begun to view the issues such as organization development, employee development, direct employee communication and involvement, performance management etc. as deliverables of well conceived HR strategy.

In the industries where there is a strong correlation of intellectual capital and success at marketplace, the companies took HRM altogether to a different plane of strategic importance where the role of HR is clear in achieving overall strategic goals of the company. There are yet some other industries where companies think that industrial relations are still the major concern in people area, traces of traditional personnel management functioning can be seen in practice. However, in general across the industries, there has been a shift in attitudes of personnel / HR professionals and the aspect is gaining importance at strategic level.

The distinguishing factors There have always been debates about whether human resource management represents a new paradigm in the evolution and development of personnel management through adoption of more strategic approach. Based on research by Warwick University’s IR Research Unit in the late 80s through a comprehensive survey of diverse companies, Storey in 1992 conducted an elaborate study to distinguish the two and his detailed conclusions under four broad categories can be shown as below:

Distinguishing factors - HRM and Personnel Management Key AspectPersonnel managementHRM Beliefs and assumptions ContractCareful delineation of written contractAim to go beyond written contract – go by the spirit of the contract RulesThrust on devising clear rules“can do” attitude – impatience with rules Guide to management actionProceduresBusiness and customer needs, flexibility, commitment BehavioursIn line with customs and normsIn line with values and mission Managers’ taskMonitoringNurturing Strategic aspects Key relationsLabour managementCustomers InitiativesPiecemealIntegrated Corporate planMarginalizedCentral Speed of decisionsSlowFast Line management Management roleTransactionalTransformational leadership Key managersP&IR expertsLine managers SkillsNegotiationFacilitation Key levers AttentionPersonnel proceduresCultural and structural issues and personnel strategies SelectionMarginal importanceIntegrated and key task PayJob evaluationPerformance based CommunicationRestricted flow / indirectIncreased flow / direct Job designDivision of labourTeam work Conflict handlingTemporary basisManaging culture and climate Training & developmentControlled access to coursesLearning organizations

Finally it may simply be as Karen Leggy has put it a difference of emphasis that differentiates HRM from personnel management.

Article # 03

Difference between Human Resource Management and Personnel Management

Difference between Human Resource Management and Personnel Management Human resource management involves all management decisions and practices that directly affect or influence the people, or human resources, who work for the organization. In other words, Human resource management is concerned with ‘people centric issues’ in management.

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.


ALTHOUGH both human resource management (HRM) and personnel management focus on people management, if we examine critically, there are many differences between them. Some are listed below:

i) Nature of relations:The nature of relations can be seen through two different perspective views which are Pluralist and Unitarist. There is a clear distinct difference between both because in personnel management, the focus is more on individualistic where individual interest is more than group interest.

The relationship between management and employees are merely on contractual basis where one hires and the others perform. Whereas, HRM focuses more on Unitarist where the word "uni" refers to one and together.

Here, HRM through a shared vision between management and staff create a corporate vision and mission which are linked to business goals and the fulfillment of mutual interest where the organization’s needs are satisfied by employees and employees' needs are well-taken care by the organization. Motorola and Seagate are good examples of organizations that belief in this Unitarist approach which also focuses in team management and sees employees as partners in an organization.

Relation of power and management: The distribution of power in personnel management is centralized where the top management has full authority in decision-making where even the personnel managers are not even allowed to give ideas or take part in any decision which involves "employees".
HRM, on the other hand, sees the decentralization of power where the power between top management is shared with middle and lower management groups.
This is known as "empowerment" because employees play an important role together with line and HR managers to make collective and mutual decisions, which can benefit both the management and employees themselves.
In fact, HRM focuses more on TQM approach as part of a team management with the involvement and participation of management and employees with shared power and authority.
The nature of management is focused more on bottom-up approach with employees giving feedback to the top management and then the top management gives support to employees to achieve mutually agreed goals and objectives.

ii) Leadership and management role: Personnel management emphasizes much on leadership style which is very transactional. This style of leadership merely sees the leader as a task-oriented person. This leader focuses more on procedures that must be followed, punishment form non-performance and non-compliance of rules and regulations and put figures and task accomplishments ahead of human factors such as personal bonding, interpersonal relationship, trust, understanding, tolerance and care.
HRM creates leaders who are transformational. This leadership style encourages business objectives to be shared by both employees and management. Here, leaders only focus more on people-oriented and importance on rules, procedures and regulations are eliminated and replaced with:
· Shared vision;
· Corporate culture and missions;
· Trust and flexibility; and
· HRM needs that integrates business needs.

iii) Contract of employment: In personnel management, employees contract of employment is clearly written and employees must observe strictly the agreed employment contract. The contract is so rigid that there is no room for changes and modifications. There is no compromise in written contracts that stipulates rules, regulations, job and obligations.
HRM, on the other hand, does not focus on one-time life-long contract where working hours and other terms and conditions of employment are seen as less rigid. Here, it goes beyond the normal contract that takes place between organizations and employees. The new "flexible approach" encourages employees to choose various ways to keep contributing their skills and knowledge to the organization.

HRM, with its new approach, has created flexi-working hours, work from home policies and not forgetting the creation on "open contract" system that is currently practiced by some multinational companies such as Motorola, Siemens and GEC.

HRM today gives employees the opportunity and freedom to select any type of working system that can suit them and at the same time benefit the organization as well. Drucker (1996) calls this approach a "win-win" approach.

iv) Pay policies and job design: Pay policies in personnel management is merely based on skills and knowledge required for the perspective jobs only. The value is based on the ability to perform the task and duties as per the employment contract requirement only. It does not encourage value-added incentives to be paid out. This is also because the job design is very functional, where the functions are more departmentalized in which each job falls into one functional department. This is merely known as division on labour based on job needs and skill possessions and requirement.

HRM, on the contrary, encourages organizations to look beyond pay for functional duties. Here, the pay is designed to encourage continuous job performance and improvement which is linked to value-added incentives such as gain sharing schemes, group profit sharing and individual incentive plans.

The job design is no more functional based but teamwork ad cyclical based. HRM creates a new approach towards job design such as job rotation which is inter and intra-departmental based and job enlargement which encourages one potential and capable individual to take on more tasks to add value to his/her job and in return enjoy added incentives and benefits.

Article # 04

A Paradigm shift (or revolutionary science) is, according to Thomas Kuhn in his influential book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), a change in the basic assumptions, or paradigms, within the ruling theory of science. It is in contrast to his idea of normal science.

According to Kuhn, "A paradigm is what members of a scientific community, and they alone, share." (The Essential Tension, 1977). Unlike a normal scientist, Kuhn held, "a student in the humanities has constantly before him a number of competing and incommensurable solutions to these problems, solutions that he must ultimately examine for himself." (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions). Once a paradigm shift is complete, a scientist cannot, for example, reject the germ theory of disease to posit the possibility that miasma causes disease or reject modern physics and optics to posit that ether carries light. In contrast, a critic in the Humanities can choose to adopt an array of stances (e.g., Marxist criticism, Freudian criticism, Deconstruction, 19th-century-style literary criticism), which may be more or less fashionable during any given period but which are all regarded as legitimate.

Since the 1960s, the term has also been used in numerous non-scientific contexts to describe a profound change in a fundamental model or perception of events, even though Kuhn himself restricted the use of the term to the hard sciences. Compare as a structured form of Zeitgeist.
Kuhnian paradigm shifts Kuhn used the duck-rabbit optical illusion to demonstrate the way in which a paradigm shift could cause one to see the same information in an entirely different way. An epistemological paradigm shift was called a scientific revolution by epistemologist and historian of science Thomas Kuhn in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

A scientific revolution occurs, according to Kuhn, when scientists encounter anomalies which cannot be explained by the universally accepted paradigm within which scientific progress has thereto been made. The paradigm, in Kuhn's view, is not simply the current theory, but the entire worldview in which it exists, and all of the implications which come with it. It is based on features of landscape of knowledge that scientists can identify around them. There are anomalies for all paradigms, Kuhn maintained, that are brushed away as acceptable levels of error, or simply ignored and not dealt with (a principal argument Kuhn uses to reject Karl Popper's model of falsifiability as the key force involved in scientific change). Rather, according to Kuhn, anomalies have various levels of significance to the practitioners of science at the time. To put it in the context of early 20th century physics, some scientists found the problems with calculating Mercury's perihelion more troubling than the Michelson-Morley experiment results, and some the other way around. Kuhn's model of scientific change differs here, and in many places, from that of the logical positivists in that it puts an enhanced emphasis on the individual humans involved as scientists, rather than abstracting science into a purely logical or philosophical venture.

When enough significant anomalies have accrued against a current paradigm, the scientific discipline is thrown into a state of crisis, according to Kuhn. During this crisis, new ideas, perhaps ones previously discarded, are tried. Eventually a new paradigm is formed, which gains its own new followers, and an intellectual "battle" takes place between the followers of the new paradigm and the hold-outs of the old paradigm. Again, for early 20th century physics, the transition between the Maxwellian electromagnetic worldview and the Einsteinian Relativistic worldview was neither instantaneous nor calm, and instead involved a protracted set of "attacks," both with empirical data as well as rhetorical or philosophical arguments, by both sides, with the Einsteinian theory winning out in the long-run. Again, the weighing of evidence and importance of new data was fit through the human sieve: some scientists found the simplicity of Einstein's equations to be most compelling, while some found them more complicated than the notion of Maxwell's aether which they banished. Some found Eddington's photographs of light bending around the sun to be compelling, some questioned their accuracy and meaning. Sometimes the convincing force is just time itself and the human toll it takes, Kuhn said, using a quote from Max Planck: "a new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."

After a given discipline has changed from one paradigm to another, this is called, in Kuhn's terminology, a scientific revolution or a paradigm shift. It is often this final conclusion, the result of the long process, that is meant when the term paradigm shift is used colloquially: simply the (often radical) change of worldview, without reference to the specificities of Kuhn's historical argument.

Science and paradigm shift A common misinterpretation of paradigms is the belief that the discovery of paradigm shifts and the dynamic nature of science (with its many opportunities for subjective judgments by scientists) is a case for relativism:[2] the view that all kinds of belief systems are equal. Kuhn vehemently denies this interpretation and states that when a scientific paradigm is replaced by a new one, albeit through a complex social process, the new one is always better, not just different.

These claims of relativism are, however, tied to another claim that Kuhn does at least somewhat endorse: that the language and theories of different paradigms cannot be translated into one another or rationally evaluated against one another — that they are incommensurable. This gave rise to much talk of different peoples and cultures having radically different worldviews or conceptual schemes — so different that whether or not one was better, they could not be understood by one another. However, the philosopher Donald Davidson published a highly regarded essay in 1974, "On the Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme," arguing that the notion that any languages or theories could be incommensurable with one another was itself incoherent. If this is correct, Kuhn's claims must be taken in a weaker sense than they often are. Furthermore, the hold of the Kuhnian analysis on social science has long been tenuous with the wide application of multi-paradigmatic approaches in order to understand complex human behaviour (see for example John Hassard, Sociology and Organisation Theory. Positivism, Paradigm and Postmodernity. Cambridge University Press. 1993.)

Paradigm shifts tend to be most dramatic in sciences that appear to be stable and mature, as in physics at the end of the 19th century. At that time, physics seemed to be a discipline filling in the last few details of a largely worked-out system. In 1900, Lord Kelvin famously stated, "There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement." Five years later, Albert Einstein published his paper on special relativity, which challenged the very simple set of rules laid down by Newtonian mechanics, which had been used to describe force and motion for over two hundred years.

In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Kuhn wrote, "Successive transition from one paradigm to another via revolution is the usual developmental pattern of mature science." (p. 12) Kuhn's idea was itself revolutionary in its time, as it caused a major change in the way that academics talk about science. Thus, it could be argued that it caused or was itself part of a "paradigm shift" in the history and sociology of science. However, Kuhn would not recognise such a paradigm shift. Being in the social sciences, people can still use earlier ideas to discuss the history of science.

Philosophers and historians of science, including Kuhn himself, ultimately accepted a modified version of Kuhn's model, which synthesizes his original view with the gradualist model that preceded it. Kuhn's original model is now generally seen as too limited.

"The subject of a gestalt demonstration knows that his perception has shifted because he can make it shift back and forth repeatedly while he holds the same book or piece of paper in his hands. Aware that nothing in his environment has changed, he directs his attention increasingly not to the figure (duck or rabbit) but to the lines of the paper he is looking at. Ultimately he may even learn to see those lines without seeing either of the figures, and he may then say (what he could not legitimately have said earlier) that it is these lines that he really sees but that he sees them alternately as a duck and as a rabbit. ...As in all similar psychological experiments, the effectiveness of the demonstration depends upon its being analyzable in this way. Unless there were an external standard with respect to which a switch of vision could be demonstrated, no conclusion about alternate perceptual possibilities could be drawn." -- Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (3rd edn., p. 114).

Kuhn used the duck-rabbit optical illusion to demonstrate the way in which a paradigm shift could cause one to see the same information in an entirely different way.