During the first quarter of the twentieth century, the human resource function in US organizations emerged as the personnel department. Early functions of this department included attempts to keep labor unions from forming and focusing on production efficiency through time and motion studies. In the 1910s and 1920s these departments began to engage in employment testing, focusing on individual differences that predicted job performance. Soon after this, with the passage of federal legislation governing labor unions, the focus was again on keeping unions out of the workplace and employees were viewed as adversaries.
From World War II to the late 1960s the human relations movement flourished. This movement was characterized by a belief that more satisfied employees were more productive employees, and it emphasized more supportive supervision and a greater consideration for employees' needs. With the passage of federal civil rights legislation in the 1960s, the personnel department gained importance as the legal watchdog for the organization.
The emphasis shifted to organizational compliance with the law, which heightened the importance of many human resource management (HRM) practices, including job analysis.
Over the past three decades, this functional area has changed as the pressures from increasing national and international competition have forced organizations to cut costs and increase productivity. During this time HRM has emerged as a strategic function for the success of the organization and the practitioners are now viewed as business partners with the chief executives of the firm. Many US organizations today view their human resource departments as valueÃ¢ÂÂadded service providers and their employees as a source of sustained competitive advantage. This has given rise to the term strategic human resource management, which emphasizes the need for organizations to manage employees in a manner consistent with strategic business objectives.
Legal EnvironmentThe field of HRM is highly regulated in...