HOW DID HRM BEGIN? M ANAGEMENT IN THE 1970S AND 1980S:
THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE EMERGENCE OF ‘HR M’ AS WE
Human Resource Management has developed its original programme in the 1980s, it has expanded and consolidated its agenda in the 1990s, and it has been flourishing explosively in the dozen years since the turn of the millennium (the 2000s so far). We will try to understand the conditions of possibility for the rise of HRM in terms of cultural background, economic and political conditions, and social transformations in North Atlantic societies at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st. HRM’s evolution over time shows that it has become intensified, that it has …show more content…
The topic which surfaced most forcefully in this period was the need for new modes of engaging human subjects in work: should controls be tightened Tayloristically, or should there be space for people to freely express themselves in work? The interesting dynamic here was that, despite calls for revenge, work organisations were turned into conduits for human self-expression as the proper determination of human resourcefulness, as opposed to structures of control, confinement and restriction of labour within tight systems of production.
The crises of the 1970s and 1980s triggered a new effort to articulate answers capable of changing modes of thought and action that had been shown wanting, to new ones able to resolve some of the intolerable social, economic and political tensions that surfaced both globally (in the energy crises of the 1970s) and locally (the major strikes of the winter season
1978-1979 in the UK remain perhaps the historical exemplar of these tensions).
In this light, it can be argued that (in one respect at least) the context in which HRM emerged in the 1980s was one of multiple crises as opposed to a simple linear progression.
But what emerged in actual fact could be seen, from a cultural viewpoint at least, as paradoxical: the antagonism prefigured in such calls to ‘vengeance’ did not materialise as a struggle between
‘classes’ within the workplace. Quite the contrary: management circles reinterpreted the