Cultural Models of Human Resource Management

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Human Resource could be defined as a set of guidelines and practices set to maximise employees and organisational goals. Its a process bound in such a manner that people and the company they work in are able to achieve their objectives.

Human Resource Management or HRM was more commonly known as Personnel Management until the dawn of Liberalisation. Human Resource is very important for the success of any organization. Its necessity is paramount. Human Resource is the skills, talents, knowledge and aptitudes of a firm's workforce. The more modern Human Resource also inculcates the values, ethics, and beliefs of an employee as part of the organisation. All these qualities together process the management to develop an enterprise.

Personnel Management is primarily concerned with procurement and development of personnel for organisational benefits. The main thrust is to achieve organisational aims with the help of individuals however, individual aspirations and goals gets submerged under organisational goals.

The strategic nature of Personnel Management (PM) is to deal with days to day issues where as for Human Resource management (HRM) its is not just facing day to day issues but also to be proactive and to integrate with other management functions. In PM, strategies are adhoc i.e. they are short term whereas in HRM its long term as well as humane in nature.

In Personnel Management there are external control systems in place for HRM it is self control. Roles of employees in PM structure require them to be specialist and professional. HRM requires roles to integrate into line management. Training and development in personnel management is restricted to training non-managerial employees and are rarely job related. It is only limited top management. In HRM practise development philosophy transcends to job related training. There is a strong emphasis on leadership development for core and non-core employees. An organisation practising Human Resource Management against Personnel management has learning culture for all its employees.

Contractual aspects of job are judged by compliance of an employee in Personnel Management. In Human Resource it based on seeking commitment of the employee. The organisational structure in PM is hierarchical and is vertically integrated. It prefers bureaucratic and mechanistic approach whereas in HRM structure is organic and flexible with employees.

Personnel Management style has a pluralist perspective. Here it is understood that management and workers will not have identical interest and conflict at work is inevitable and wrong. HRM follows a Unitarist approach and its a win-win situation for all concerned. The owners, managers and employees have a no conflict agenda. Everyone's ultimate interest is for high efficiency, resulting in high profits which will contribute to shareholder value and high wages.

Human Resource Management or Personnel Management is a western idea that is being practised in every organisation. The western management theory has been increasingly seen as inappropriate by several scholars and not just outside the west but within. It is believed that the modern western management practises generally treated people as if they were objects. In the west, organisations are viewed as economic units each being a part of another economic system. Economics revolves around production, distribution, wealth consumption and all issues relating to labour. It does not consider an individual and its behaviour. It tends to assume business organisations are rational, orderly, stable and predictable and hence understood as machines.

Another way of looking western style management is to liken them to children's Lego building bricks. Consider a Lego being built as a firm Organisational chart and each brick being an employee or individual. If one Lego brick is detached, broken or changes shape it is readily replaced by an identical brick. These suggest that people employed in firms are replaceable parts of an organisation. Human emotions, special skills, spirituality are not reflected in an organisation. Businesses often focus on individual activity and less on individuals. They don't make use of individual's capabilities nor concerned with any employee relations that they could achieve.

The non western perspective is not just in the interest ability of people to work in a humane environment but also in the interest of economic success and prosperity. The argument is that firms or companies need to keep people, their ethics, value systems and culture at the centre of every organisation.

In India there has been huge spread of call centres, a western export. In the past decade it has employed over two million people. Working in call centre industry involves long hours of work, permanent nights. They always need to wear headphones and remain in their seats to attend calls, this result in no physical movements. They need to achieve targets or fear 'action plans' or development programme that could jeopardise an employee's position in the company. Normal life gets affected due to enormous stress due intrusive behaviour by senior staff. The agents or the core employees are designated as customer service managers and industry tags them as professionals however, the work environment is no different from a sweat shop. The call centre work environment is designed to fit the technology or machines and certainly not work environment . The executive fears sleep disorders, isolation and poor family relationship. This similar trend is seen in China, Malaysia and Philippines. Similarities are also found in the Information and Technology industry.

India, a multi-lingual country, is culturally diverse with a massive population spread around an enormous area. It has several religions and ethnic communities. Affinity to community, family, elderly, spiritual harmony, harmony with nature and cultural pluralisms is what revolve around Indian values. The Indian society in short revolves around people and relationships. Many ancient Indian scriptures consider work to be sacred duty for every individual. Work must be done with utmost dedication for pure spiritual bliss and not for monetary benefits alone. That is the holistic Indian approach towards life. Such approach leads to mental and moral faculties of an employee while performing his task. Indian employees are more emotional to the affinity they hold to the work place against productivity in case of western offices. It is also observed that in India work is performed as an obligation towards employer. However, with the advent of globalisation in India work in no longer valued on spiritual basis. This could be understood by the level of attrition in the modern offices in India. Business Process Outsourcing industry recorded the highest resignation in a single year. Employees switch jobs solely for higher pay packages and switching companies also provide them early promotion as compared to counterparts who continue with their loyalty in the same workplace.

India today is transforming towards rapid industrialisation through western models of growth. Indian organisations such as TATA, IFOSYS et al are traditional personality and relationship centred organisation. Their founders always had people centred values. The informal practises, the organisation formal policies and process have been the driving force behind the success of these organisations. This all has been possible solely due to people relationship. TATA is one such company which follows the people centric ideology rigorously. The TATA company was once going through a major restructuring, the need for restructure was communicated to all employees their anxieties were addressed. Excess employees were giving employment in other TATA organisation and the rest were trained and developed to continue their respective careers. Hence, restructuring was done in a humane way showing that the company was people-centred. It received accolades and respect from people within the organisation and outside. The company has also been a pioneer in corporate social responsibility thereby reflecting the concerns of the environment outside and also building relationship with the community, all in line with the Indian philosophy.

There are several other Indian companies who have followed organic design successfully. Infosys, the Indian software is one such example. It was founded in 1981 by seven friends headed by Narayan Murthy. It is the most respected software companies in India providing high quality software services globally. Mr. Murthy derived his inspiration from teachers and imbibed values like 'public good before private good' and 'truthfulness' from his parents. Public good emphasizes that firms or business should have responsibilities to its employees and the community at large. The employees at Infosys have always been empowered and they are expected to make value-added contributions. Infosys has let employees treat corporate resources and personal resources. Employees are given learning opportunities and feedback based on employee satisfaction is taken twice a year. Infosys has ensured workplace is an enjoyable experience and also gives employees the flexibility to work from home. The founder has always stood by his principles and dealt customers, shareholder, employees fairly and transparently thereby ensuring an organic design.

Organisations should be formed by having synergy between humans engaged in relationship with a common goal. Organisations are formed, developed and reorganised in less than perfectly predictable ways. Inculcating such a view would lead to employees being able to apply body, mind and soul to their workplace and hence individuals in a firm will be working to their full capacity. Experiences from TATA and Infosys prove that job gets done in hierarchical and mechanistic organisations through relationship that does not appear in organisational charts. An effective organisation is the one that interacts with people and builds relationship with. This relationship when enhanced outside the organisation commands respect and long lasting reputation from the community.

Organic organisations are such informal organisation who are constantly adapting to the society. Organisations are built around interpersonal relationship and meaning to the whole being purpose of being a part of the company.

'What is most important in the world? It is people! It is people' is the traditional Maori saying, the indigenous people of New Zealand. Similarly, the widespread African belief is that one is called a human only through other people to whom they relate. Without a family or community to relate to a human is incomplete.

In the Maori community personal identity is communal. The good of the entire tribe is more important than that of the individual. Status and recognition the tribe is awarded to the group and less to the individual. It is awarded in terms of age, wisdom and family birth. Maori find the idea of self made individual more perplexing because it denies communal nature of identity. Leadership, in Maori society, is handed over for a particular purpose like project or any other circumstances and when circumstances change leadership responsibility also changes. Individual raised on such backgrounds find it difficult to absorb themselves in the western formal organisational charts since Maori high-status cultural leaders occupy relatively low positioned status in a formal organisation.