A Human is Not a Resource

A Human is Not a Resource

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”The language of “human resource management” treats people as a means to
an end. Three core tenets of human resource literature are that it is
desirable to have (1) labour “flexibility” and “mobility” in a
peripheral workforce, (2) individual (not social) responsibility for
employment searching, and (3) a manager’s right to manage, without
collective accountability.”

“This article explores the cutting edge
evidence, which show human resource theory harms productivity and human
development. It explores the effects of “HR” in the UK, EU and
international regulation on atypical work, full employment, and union
voice. Where human resource beliefs have pervaded the most, the outcomes
are the worst: lower productivity, higher unemployment, more
inequality, less growth.”

“To advance prosperity, economic risks must be
distributed to the organisations best placed to bear them, people must
have security to plan for the future, and people must have real votes at
work through collective bargaining and corporate governance. Many
people who themselves work in “HR” strongly disagree with the essential
elements of their discipline. They support equality, security and
democracy at work. Just as international law once affirmed that “labour
is not a commodity
”, for social justice in the 21st century there must
be a conviction that a human is not a resource. “HR” must change in name
and substance, to advance human development and human rights.”

Centre for Business Research, University Cambridge Working Paper no. 497, May 2018: “A Human is not a Resource,” by  Ewan McGaughey (28 pages, PDF)

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