Unity and Diversity
Edited by Bruce E. Kaufman
Chapter 6: The history of human resource management in France
This chapter examines the historical development and current status of human resource management (HRM) in France. HRM is viewed broadly to also include industrial relations (IR). The story of HRM in France may seem sometimes puzzling or even lacking common sense to outside observers. The main reason, I believe, is unfamiliarity with the special circumstances of the French situation. As shown in this chapter, the development of HRM in France has been shaped by many of the same factors and problems found in other countries but with much influence by uniquely French aspects of history, culture and politics. Thus, the French HRM actors and historical trajectory of the HRM system have many broad commonalities with other countries but also numerous points of specific difference arising from institutions and conventions. When this system is described and its historical development explained, the place of France in the global picture takes a more coherent and understandable shape. In order to provide context for the historical discussion, I begin the chapter with a description of the present state of HRM in France. The birth and historical growth of HRM from its roots in the mid-to-late 19th century to the current time are then described. I end the chapter by returning to the contemporary features of French HRM and relating them to the historical events and developments.
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