In recent years certain writers have put forward the notion that a distinctive and definite change has occurred in the way in which employees are managed (Beer et al, 1985; Guest, 1987; Poole, 1991; Sisson, 1991). The term or concept of Human Resource Management (HRM) has been used to describe these changes and has fuelled a spirited debate among academics and practitioners. This debate has centred on the distinctiveness of HRM and in particular whether, and in what ways, it is different to its predecessor, so called Personnel Management. This debate has considered the extent to which HRM has theoretical validity as a concept with predictive capabilities and/or the extent to which it represents a model with internally consistent features and dimensions. Others have suggested it is perhaps better understood as a map or a bracketing ‘catch all’ concept for a cluster of related management practices or approaches (Legge, 1989; Noon, 1992). The related debate has concerned the attempt by writers and commentators to establish empirically whether definitive changes have in fact taken place. Apart from case studies of exemplar (usually American and Japanese) organizations, wider survey and case material of UK based brownfield operations has tended to suggest limited adoption of HRM although Storey's (1992) recent collection of case material suggests that the wider adoption of HRM is underway.
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