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This paper surveys the contribution of economics and industrial relations (E/IR) to the development of the field of personnel/human resource management (P/HRM). A brief review of existing accounts of the evolution of the field reveals that they give little mention to the role of E/IR. A re-examination of the early years of P/HRM suggests, however, that this is a serious omission. It is demonstrated, for example, that E/IR was in fact the principal disciplinary base for research and teaching in P/HRM in US universities into the 1940s and that for the first two decades of the field's existence the most influential and authoritative academic-based writers came from the ranks of economists and economics-trained IR scholars. After describing the reasons for this close relationship, The centrifugal forces that caused a gradual split between E/IR and P/HRM are described. This split had roots in the 1920s, became increasingly visible in the 1950s and beyond, and by the late 1980s had reached a point where the two subject areas had little intellectual or organizational interaction. The paper ends with a brief review of recent developments that herald a modest rapprochement between E/IR and P/HRM.
Management Decision – Emerald Publishing
Published: Dec 1, 2002
Keywords: Employee relations; Human resource management
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