The article explores the development of systems of human capital evaluation in a number of large UK firms. Human capital is a much used term in business literature, and it is widely recognised that firms need to develop mechanisms to determine the value of their employee base. An extensive human capital literature has developed in which the authors propose elaborate systems for measuring a firm's human assets. This article does not seek to offer yet another human capital model. Rather, the aim is to examine the management practices through which human capital evaluation is undertaken. The article is based on an exploratory study of such practices in 11 major firms in the UK. The findings are highlighted as follows. First, we note the preference for internal over external (static accountancy‐based) reporting. Secondly, we highlight the diverse nature of human capital evaluation systems that exist across UK business. Thirdly, we explore the relationship between practices of evaluation and the role and position of the HR function within the firm. Finally, in conclusion, we address the implications of the human capital perspective for practitioners, arguing that there is no single formula that can be applied to its evaluation. We go on to suggest that the importance of the human capital concept and its measurement may lie in its ability to re‐frame perceptions of the relationship between the contribution of employees and the competitive performance of the business.
Human Resource Management Journal – Wiley
Published: Nov 1, 2004
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