The Development of Human Resource Management Across Nations
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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.
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Chapter 7: The history of human resource management in Germany

Ruth Rosenberger


Human resource management (HRM) in Germany at the beginning of the 21st century is a well-established science-based expert culture. Its broad goal is to effectively integrate individuals into work organizations. This expert culture is professionally institutionalized inside business enterprises, universities, and government and other non-profit institutions. It comes with its own ideational system of references and guiding principles as well as an acknowledged ensemble of knowledge-based procedures and methods. What this chapter makes clear, however, is that German HRM has not always been like this. Into the 1950s human resource departments in Western Germany’s major corporations fulfilled mostly administrative functions and neither created, shaped, nor managed anything. Similarly, at the universities there was no link-up of the subject “human resources” to the academic disciplines such as business administration and psychology. Also, no professional association existed to represent and negotiate the interests of HRM to the outside. In comparison with the status of human resource management in other liberal, democratic and capitalist societies, the development of HRM in Germany appears to have been delayed. But is this actually the case? And if so, what are the reasons? And what have been the consequences of this specific development of HRM in Germany? The following account of HRM’s history in Germany from its beginning at the end of the 19th century up to the present gives answers to these questions.

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