The key challenge to HRM in the 21st century

The debate about the role of HRM in 21st century has been going on for quite some time. It is argued that due to globalization there are many changes within the organizational structure. The emergence of post-bureaucratic organizations which are more flexible and task oriented has changed the culture within the organizations. It is argued that in present age the organizations are evolving at a rapid pace to deal with all those uncertainties related with globalization.

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Though the process of evolution has always been there since the very beginning but at a pace which today’s world is changing this has never been there. World is an ever changing place, mankind has seen the emergence of nation states, industrialization of society rise and fall of imperialism and the new change which we see is the globalization and emergence of so called global village. Organizations today are facing many issues such as the old styles of management are no longer helping many of them and another aspect is the emergence of service based industry and its different characteristics.

To help and understand the role of HRM in 21st century we need to look at pre-postmodern or modern ways of management and then compare them with post-modern or non bureaucratic style of management. One can argue whether these fast pace changes are good or not? Only thing which is not changing is the CHANGE itself. Periodicity is a complex issue, which period are we living in? Have we moved into post modern period or are we still living in a modernist world? Or is it a transitional period?

Now if we look at organizations in the last century we can see many trends and many new ideas emerging and changing. As organizations and as a matter of fact societies moved into modern or post traditional period. Process of modernity was started long ago but it became more visible in the 1st half of the last century. Modernism’s main idea was to put pervious norms on one side….. and the need to make changes rather than just revising the past knowledge in light of new techniques.

This idea some how paved the way for different new theories in all fields of knowledge such as the Theory of Relativity in physics, the rise of social science in public policy and off course industrialization. (http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Modernism) Modernity means the practice of modernism’s ideas in a practical life. Those ideas become visible in organizations in the 1st half of the century as size of organizations was getting bigger and their operations getting more and more complex managing an organization was no longer a family affair.

Traditionally the workers or as I would call them craftsmen, had almost all the knowledge and more often they were their own boss as they were manufacturing themselves but as industrialization begun in 18th century and by the start of 19th century the mass production gain momentum there was factories owned by government and rich individuals those who may not have any knowledge about the production but as they have resources to hire workers, buy new technologies and sell their stuff across the world as the colonial age was at its prime there was no shortage of new markets.

At the same time to get more control and power the process of Division of labour started (as different tasks were done by different workers) and fragmentation of labour process. This division of labour leads towards the conflicts between mangers and workers as managers did not have any knowledge of actual work done by workers and gang bosses were more sort of

in- charge of workers these issues were realised and addressed by different writers like Max Weber and Taylor many other writers like Karl Marx criticised and highlighted many negatives related to Division of Labour Marx wrote that “with this division of labour”, the worker is “depressed spiritually and physically to the condition of a machine”. Historically the division of labour has always been there the 1st form of this division was between Men and Women and as time passes by and human kind advanced in different fields like agriculture and subsequently industrialization this divide took many new shapes and more complex character.

Scientific Management: Frederick Winslow Taylor(1856-1915) devised a system he called scientific management, through this he tried to solve different issues arising in managing workforce at the beginning of 20th century Taylor argued that his theory which he called scientific management, is far better than any other type of management as he argued that the workmen’s good will, ingenuity and hard work can only be obtained by absolute regularity and not only regularity but there is a need for managers to take up more duties and burdens which in Taylor’s own view were almost inconceivable to the old style of management .

Taylor divided those new duties of managers into different parts and called them Principles of scientific management. The first duty taken over by management is to gather all the traditional knowledge of workmen and record it, than reducing all that into laws, rules and mathematical formulae to obtain larger out put per person, better quality which will lead towards high wages for workers and a higher profit for companies.

Second of those duties of scientific management is scientific selection and development of workers and enabling them to work at such a level where they can perform according to their natural abilities. Third basic principle of scientific management is to bring the science and scientifically selected work force together and ensuring that all the work is done according to the science. The forth principle is the equal division of work between the workers and management where all the work is integrated between the management and workers and through such personal cooperation the chances of quarrel are very limited.

And the fifth basic principle of Taylor’s theory of scientific management is to relate the cash incentive to the amount of effort which one does to do the things right way, learning new things and changing ones way in accordance with science and in return to receive pay rise. (From scientific Management, Harper& Row, 1947) Taylorism is often mentioned along with Fordism, because it was closely associated with mass production methods in manufacturing factories. This led towards more control of labour process and bureaucratic way of management took its hold in organizations whether state run or privately owned.

Bureaucracy is a very important characteristic of modern organizations; the word bureaucracy means the rule of office or office power. Max Weber’s (1864-1920) ideas on bureaucracy and rationalization can be seen as another very important theory on which bureaucratic organizations base themselves. Weber described the ideal type bureaucracy in positive terms, in his view bureaucracy is a more rational and efficient form of organization than the alternatives that preceded it, which he characterized as charismatic domination and traditional domination.

According to his terminology, bureaucracy is part of legal domination. However, he also emphasized that bureaucracy becomes inefficient when a decision must be adapted to an individual case. According to Weber, the attributes of modern bureaucracy include its impersonality, concentration of the means of administration, a leveling effect on social and economic differences and implementation of a system of authority that is practically indestructible.