Hr Function

Read Complete Research Material


The Role of the HR Function and its Interaction with Line Managers

The Role of the HR Function and its Interaction with Line Managers


This study traces the evolution of the HR profession over the past 100 years, then looks at its current role as strategic business partner and the lack of measurement to prove HR is adding value. For HR to continue to build a strategic function, it needs measurement tools that go beyond assessing HR's output to focus more on the impact HR is having on the execution of the business strategy (Cascio 1992, 14-28). Cascio's research on how all the various people components in organisations interact with each other, and how HR influences the various components, points to a need for a complex model for measuring the organisational effectiveness if HR is going to evolve to the next level. This study concludes with the theoretical grounding for just such a model.

Over the past few decades the HR profession has been continuously evolving and changing, adding more and different responsibilities. While some historians go back to England and the guild movement when tracing the HR profession, most point to the early 1900s, when many of the components of modern human resources management were falling into place (French 1990, 11-17). Out of the Industrial Revolution came the birth of labor unions, the Civil Service Commission, the industrial welfare movement, and groundbreaking research in scientific management and industrial psychology. This led to the establishment of the first personnel departments during the 1920s. This new function employed specialists to oversee areas like employment, employee welfare (financial, housing, medical and educational), wage setting, safety, training, and health.

During the '30s, '40s and '50s the profession was enhanced by the human relations movement as well as the academic and applied disciplines from the behavioral sciences and systems theory. Despite this growing body of knowledge, in the 1960s the personnel professional was often viewed as little more than a glorified file clerk who planned the company picnic. This all changed with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the subsequent social, demographic, technological, and economic trends in the '70s and '80s. Top management began to take notice, and the modem HR professional was born.

In the 1990s, experts noting the growing importance of human capital began to urge HR to evolve even further and become strategic business partners. While many HR professionals today still struggle to get a seat at the business table, the HR profession in the future should continue to evolve and take more responsibility for overall organisational effectiveness. To do this the HR professional will need to become better at utilising systems thinking and systems measurement.

The Past

The Industrial Revolution

Some historians trace the origins of personnel/human resource management to medieval times, when masons, carpenters, leather workers, and other craftspeople organized into guilds in order to improve their work conditions (Gilbertson, 1950; Ling, 1965; Megginson, 1972). Students of personnel history point out, however, that prior to 1900 first-line supervisors handled most personnel problems ...
Related Ads