From Valuable Resource to Valued Person: Ontologies of Human Resource Management
This thesis examines the conceptualisations of those who do the work of organisations as evidenced in human resource management (HRM) scholarship. It contrasts three perspectives in the HRM discourse: strategic, humanistic and personalistic, and distinguishes the world-views and philosophies within them. The four papers in the thesis address these perspectives and indicate implications for HRM theory, research and practice.
The primary research question is ‘how is the person conceptualised in the HRM discourse?’ which is answered by affirming that such conceptualisation has varied throughout the HRM tradition wherein the ‘human’ in HRM is regarded as both a valuable resource and a valued person. The ontology of those who do the work of organisations is analysed and it is argued that they are not merely assets but persons within communities of persons. To support this argument, the thesis employs the philosophy of Jacques Maritain (1882– 1973) whose themes of integral humanism, the person, and the common good are employed to examine selected HRM literature.
The researcher seeks to join other scholars in advocating that organisations are not the only beneficiaries of employee efforts and that a multi-stakeholder approach needs to be taken in the HRM discourse which recognises employee, community, societal and environmental outcomes. It is suggested that the well-being of those who do the work of organisations is core to the HRM agenda. The manner in which those who do the work of organisation are being conceptualised and framed is significant for HRM scholars and practitioners. The utility, dignity and human flourishing of those who contribute to organisational outcomes are highlighted.