Table of Contents

The Development of Human Resource Management Across Nations

The Development of Human Resource Management Across Nations

Unity and Diversity

Edited by Bruce E. Kaufman

This volume contains country studies of the historical development of human resource management (HRM) in seventeen different nations. The nations span all regions of the world and each chapter is written by a national expert. Primary attention is given to HRM developments in industry, but university research and teaching are also covered. Human resource management is defined broadly to include industrial relations and each chapter places the historical development of HRM in a broad political, social, and economic context.

Chapter 8: The evolution of human resource management in the UK

Howard Gospel

Subjects: business and management, human resource management, economics and finance, labour economics


This chapter considers the development of the management of human resources in the UK in three broad areas – work relations, employment relations, and industrial relations. Work relations cover the way work is organized and the deployment of workers around technologies and production systems. Employment relations include the arrangements governing such aspects of employment as recruitment, training, job tenure, and reward systems. Industrial relations are taken to cover the voice aspirations of workers and institutional arrangements which may arise to address them, such as joint consultation, works councils, trade unions, and collective bargaining. The focus is therefore on broad and generic human resources management, which has been a phenomenon in all organizations over time, and not on Human Resources Management (HRM), a term which has developed over the last quarter century. The terms human resource, labour, and personnel management are used interchangeably. Major patterns in the UK are outlined in the above three areas, especially in large private-sector firms, over a long period from the nineteenth century onwards. The focus is primarily on the management of lower and intermediate classes of labour, which have constituted the majority of employees and which are best covered in the literature. The following section provides a broad overview of the UK context. There then follow sections which present broad ‘stages’, periods, and transitions in the history of human resource management, taking illustrative cases from ‘leading’ sectors of the economy.

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