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For the 1999 film, see Human Resources (film). For the "Doctor Who" episode, see Human Resources (audio drama).

Human resources is the set of individuals who make up the workforce of an organization, business sector, or economy. "Human capital" is sometimes used synonymously with human resources, although human capital typically refers to a more narrow view (i.e., the knowledge the individuals embody and economic growth). Likewise, other terms sometimes used include "manpower", "talent", "labour", or simply "people".

Definition of staffing or personnel management[edit]

Staffing is a process of hiring, positioning and overseeing employees in an organization.[1]


Pioneering economist John R. Commons used the term "human resource" in his 1893 book The Distribution of Wealth but did not further build upon it. The term "human resource" was subsequently in use during the 1910s and 1920s as was the notion that workers could be seen as a kind of capital asset. Among scholars the first use of "human resources" in its modern form was in a 1958 report by economist E. Wight Bakke.[2] The term began to become more developed in the 19th century due to misunderstandings between the employers and employees.[3]

The term in practice[edit]

From the corporate objective, employees have been traditionally viewed as assets to the enterprise, whose value is enhanced by further learning and development, referred to as human resource development.[4]

In regard to how individuals respond to the changes in a labour market, the following must be understood:

  • Skills and qualifications: as industries move from manual to more managerial professions so does the need for more highly skilled staff. If the market is "tight" (i.e. not enough staff for the jobs), employers must compete for employees by offering financial rewards, community investment, etc.
  • Geographical spread: how far is the job from the individual? The distance to travel to work should be in line with remuneration, and the transportation and infrastructure of the area also influence who applies for a position.
  • Occupational structure: the norms and values of the different careers within an organization. Mahoney 1989 developed 3 different types of occupational structure, namely, craft (loyalty to the profession), organization career path (promotion through the firm) and unstructured (lower/unskilled workers who work when needed).
  • Generational difference: different age categories of employees have certain characteristics, for example, their behavior and their expectations of the organization.[5]

Concerns about the terminology[edit]

One major concern about considering people as assets or resources is that they will be commoditized and abused. Some analysis suggests that human beings are not "commodities" or "resources",[6] but are creative and social beings in a productive enterprise. The 2000 revision of ISO 9001, in contrast, requires identifying the processes, their sequence and interaction, and to define and communicate responsibilities and authorities. In general, heavily unionised nations such as France and Germany have adopted and encouraged such approaches. Also, in 2001, the International Labour Organization decided to revisit and revise its 1975 Recommendation 150 on Human Resources Development, resulting in its "Labour is not a commodity" principle. One view of these trends is that a strong social consensus on political economy and a good social welfare system facilitate labour mobility and tend to make the entire economy more productive, as labour can develop skills and experience in various ways, and move from one enterprise to another with little controversy or difficulty in adapting.

Another important controversy regards labour mobility and the broader philosophical issue with usage of the phrase "human resources". Governments of developing nations often regard developed nations that encourage immigration or "guest workers" as appropriating human capital that is more rightfully part of the developing nation and required to further its economic growth. Over time, the United Nations have come to more generally support the developing nations' point of view, and have requested significant offsetting "foreign aid" contributions so that a developing nation losing human capital does not lose the capacity to continue to train new people in trades, professions, and the arts.[7]

Human resources development[edit]

Human resources play an important part of developing and making a company or organization at the beginning or making a success at the end, due to the labour provided by employees. Human resource developing is to build a better understanding on how to have a better employment relations or relationship in the workforce, which in turn is human resources. Also, to bring out the best work ethic of the employees and therefore making a move to a better working environment.[8]

Human resources planning[edit]

Administration and operations used to be the two role areas of HR. The strategic planning component came into play as a result of companies recognizing the need to consider HR needs in goals and strategies. HR directors commonly sit on company executive teams because of the HR planning function. Numbers and types of employees and the evolution of compensation systems are among elements in the planning role.[9] Various factors affecting Human Resource planning Organizational Structure, Growth, Business Location, Demographic changes, environmental uncertainties, expansion etc. Additionally, this area encompasses the realm of talent management.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Heneman III, Herbert; Judge, Timothy A (2005). Staffing Organizations. USA: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0072987227. 
  2. ^ Kaufman, Bruce E. (2008). Managing the Human Factor: The Early Years of Human Resource Management in American Industry. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press. p. 312n28. 
  3. ^ Maugans, Chris. "21St Century Human Resources: Employee Advocate, Business Partner, Or Both?." Cornell HR Review (2015): 1-4. Business Source Complete. Web. 25 Sept. 2015
  4. ^ Elwood F. Holton II, James W. Trott, Jr., 1996, Trends Toward a Closer Integration of Vocational Education and Human Resources Development, Journal of Vocational and Technical Education, Vol. 12, No. 2, p7
  5. ^ "Managing Generational Differences in the Human Resources Role". 
  6. ^ Raftery, Tom. "Human Resources & Capital Management system". Human Capital & Resources Management. IAAP LLC. Retrieved 30 March 2015. 
  7. ^ [a broad inter-sectoral approach to developing human resourcefulness see United Nations Expert Meeting on Human Resources Development. `Changing Perspectives on Human Resources Development
  8. ^ Radhakrishna, A., and R. Satya Raju. "A Study On The Effect Of Human Resource Development On Employment Relations." IUP Journal Of Management Research 14.3 (2015): 28-42. Business Source Complete. Web. 25 Sept. 2015.
  9. ^ "What Is the Difference Between Human Resource Management & Human Resource Planning?". Small Business - Chron.com. Retrieved 2015-10-08. 

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