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For years the value of human resource management has been discussed, debated, and often denied. All too often those espousing the cause of hr management have proffered self defeating positions focusing on the inherent goodness of their activities whilst those in opposition were all too ready to agree with them. The emphasis far too often was on panacean fads that never stood the test of time and less on those issues that motivate, measure human resource development in a meaningful way.
Now Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner have taken on the challenge and provide the reader with an informed and enlightened approach to the very real value of hr management. And in doing so they convince us that human resource management is a genuine profession that pervades the entire corporation and that it is an essential discipline for leaders and leadership.
In this work they characterize hr management as in part a philosophy of protest against dehumanizing technology and bureaucracy. Recognizing that the logic of values and of culture is inherently paradoxical, the authors apply their dilemma approach to reconcile the differences between the opposing view points. If we posit that the values associated with technology and organization are not the only values that drive an enterprise, then we can see that the values of hr management may be needed to qualify the usually dominant technological values. It is the authors' contention that we need not to defeat the technical values from which major innovations are continually derived, but rather to integrate them with the hr values. They suggest that the need is to be more differentiated, more integrated, more non-directive in order to discover a clearer direction, and to be more individualistic to encourage strong groups to support each member, and to be more task-oriented to abet people development around these tasks.
Their vision for the 21st Century includes returning to the values of entrepreneurship in order to compete with the non-stop innovation, where success seems to go to the agile and inventive and where the huge behemoths are vulnerable as never before.
They see the future of hr management as confronting the dilemmas of creativity and destruction, of human resources and physical resources, and of change and continuity. They see human resource departments as the leaders in organizations who can embed human concerns as the technological ideas are first generated and mobilized into action. It is hr management that can explain and reconcile human values and resources with the technological values and resources to created the organization's values, modus operandi, and reason for being.
In ten thought provoking chapters, the authors examine all aspects of human resource management. In chapter one, they look at corporate cultures and the need for leaders and change agents to lead and change cultures so that they best do the work of the organization through motivation, inspiration, reward, and information. Chapter two addresses recruitment, selection, and assessment. It provide some keen observations about extant instruments and how they can be qualified by complimentary measures to create broader syntheses to enhance these processes. The succeeding two chapters look at the power of teams and how to build an effective learning organization.
Chapter six focuses on leadership development across cultures. They state that leaders must increasingly reconcile an ever-widening spectrum of diversities that include: different stages of economic cycles, different national cultures, different corporate cultures, different team roles, different functions, status levels, learning styles, disciplines, and personalities.
The following chapters take aim at how to diagnose the presence of dilemmas (even when they are being denied), provides some powerful insights as to the way people habitually think, and looks at the four cultures models that impact the effectiveness of assessment centers.
The final chapter deals with varieties of culture shock and looks at the visceral and emotional costs of crossing cultures and meeting strangers. The authors offer a simulation designed to aid participants in enhancing their emotional capabilities to deal with new dilemmas.
This is a ground-breaking work which offers new insights and provides new thinking about the field of human resource management. While it certainly should be read by human resource managers, it should also be at the top of the reading lists of corporate leaders.
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