Personnel and Human Resource Management

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Article publication date: 1 June 2004



Cole, G. (2004), "Personnel and Human Resource Management", Personnel Review, Vol. 33 No. 3, pp. 373-374.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

This is the latest (5th) edition of this introductory text that was first published in 1986. The author argues that the new, more comprehensive title now used required a number of changes in the text to reflect the broader concept. The book's pedagogical features and structure are as follows. It has a glossary of management terms, “Questions for discussion/homework”, examination questions and one or two short case studies at the end of each main part of the text. There are also appendices of: examination techniques, outline answers, discussion points on two of the cases (but why only these two?), and a list of useful Web sites. Apparently there is a Lecturers' Supplement, which typically the publishers did not bother to include and so no comments can be made.

There are 40 “chapters” (but many of these are short and not really chapters) organised into six parts. Part I, “Scope of Personnel and HRM” has three chapters. These include one on the very much needed and useful international aspects to HRM, including cross‐cultural management. Part II, “The Organisational Context” has seven chapters covering the main areas of this, such as culture, structures, leadership, groups and teamwork, motivation, and change. This included a summary of organisational theorists (Chapter 4), indicating the importance of some useful historical grounding that is required. It was also good to see job design, scientific management, socio‐technical systems and QWL, all covered. Part III, “Planning the Organisations's HRs” is composed of seven chapters overviewing the common aspects of the area, such as planning, job analysis and evaluation, recruitment and selection, HR outflows, HR records and administration. Part IV, “Conditions of Employment” has six chapters covering the employment contract, equal opportunities, working hours, pay, health and safety, and stress management and employee welfare. Part V, “Employee Training and Development” has nine chapters including appraisals, theories of learning and the learning organisation, training (needs, plans, design, evaluation), competencies, and management development. Part VI, “Employee Relations” has eight chapters covering perspectives on employee relations, communications, collective bargaining, trade unions, disputes and sanctions, grievances and discipline, participation and empowerment, and the law.

I have a few minor criticisms of this text. The layout was problematic – basically it was not that reader‐friendly, It is too dense, not helped by the small font size used, very small margins, and lack of colour. Also, while the international aspects of HRM are welcome and good, it is a pity it was so “thin” on this area, with so few pages (less than 11 sides), and only three, old (over 20 year old) references. Obviously, a trade‐off in terms of space comes into play. However, it could perhaps address this issue with more international aspects embedded within each of the chapters and parts of course? Also, I would have expected more on the area of Managing Diversity. Indeed, these points hint at a wider issue on the variability on references used, for instance, Chapter 4 had 23 while Chapter 5 had two!

Nevertheless, overall and within obvious boundaries, the new edition of this text is to be welcomed as a good, basic introduction to the area, especially for pre‐university courses and more general readers. The author is also to be congratulated for the text's comprehensive and pluralistic nature and historical grounding within the confines of space and publication. Too much in the area of HRM displays ignorance of these key underpinnings and so are shallow, with a paucity of historical and theoretical grounding. It was pleasing to read one that countered this.

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