The purpose of this paper is to tackle the paradigmatic challenge as it ties into the understanding of managing people and thus the human factor in organizations by developing an integrative, inherently humanistic and thus non-instrumental understanding of Human Resource Management (HRM). Consequently, we argue in the first part of the paper that responsible and ethical business practice starts with management that puts people as human beings at the center and treats them as ends in themselves rather than means to an end or, as the traditional term suggests, as a mere human resource. In this sense we plead for an understanding of people management as "human relations" instead of "human resources" (Miles, 1965) and propose a relational instead of an instrumental approach of man-aging employee relations. In the second part of the paper we develop the fundamentals of a humanistic understanding of people management drawing on ethics of care (Gilligan, 1982) and ethics of recognition (Honneth, 1996). We argue that this paradigm shift requires to re-think the underlying "Menschenbild" of HRM and to define guiding ethical principles (such as recognition, compassion, respect and care) which culminate in the REACH model of principled-driven HRM. We conclude this paper by stressing that managing people should be seen as a cultural development process with the larger objective of creating a responsible business and leadership culture.

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Pless, Nicola; Maak, Thomas

Beyond human resource management: Towards a humanistic understanding of managing people

The purpose of this paper is to tackle the paradigmatic challenge as it ties into the understanding of managing people and thus the human factor in organizations by developing an integrative, inherently humanistic and thus non-instrumental understanding of Human Resource Management (HRM). Consequently, we argue in the first part of the paper that responsible and ethical business practice starts with management that puts people as human beings at the center and treats them as ends in themselves rather than means to an end or, as the traditional term suggests, as a mere human resource. In this sense we plead for an understanding of people management as "human relations" instead of "human resources" (Miles, 1965) and propose a relational instead of an instrumental approach of man-aging employee relations. In the second part of the paper we develop the fundamentals of a humanistic understanding of people management drawing on ethics of care (Gilligan, 1982) and ethics of recognition (Honneth, 1996). We argue that this paradigm shift requires to re-think the underlying "Menschenbild" of HRM and to define guiding ethical principles (such as recognition, compassion, respect and care) which culminate in the REACH model of principled-driven HRM. We conclude this paper by stressing that managing people should be seen as a cultural development process with the larger objective of creating a responsible business and leadership culture.
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Beyond human resource management: Towards a humanistic understanding of managing people
Pless, Nicola; Maak, Thomas
2011 Academy of Management Annual Meeting
Academy of Management (AOM)
Briarcliff Manor (United States of America), 12/08/2011 - 16/08/2011

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