What does contemporary human resource management stand for?

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Foremost, I believe, it is the notion of recognizing employees not only as resources but as human beings, which is becoming more central in the contemporary approach to managing people. Compared to the first industrial revolution, when in the factories skills were standardized and employees were perceived as a commodity, today continuous automation shifts us towards valuing and developing the unique resourcefulness that each employee can bring to the business.

Hereof, the second important notion – talent development in HRM. Recognizing the current business world’s requirements for innovation, agility, and cross-disciplinary collaboration, organizations find it viable to invest into developing talent within organization, as a means of nurturing the best talent, unleashing their untapped human potential, and ultimately maintaining a competitive advantage in the business environment.

Thirdly, human resource management has been shifting from more administrative tasks of hiring, firing, staffing and managing sick-leaves – to take a slightly exaggerated example – towards the role of a strategic business partner. Contemporary HR management is called upon aligning its strategies with larger business strategies and create relevant metrics for its own strategic value and the achievement of organizational goals.

Finally, today we speak of human resource management mostly within an international context, and hence refer to international human resource management, or IHRM. Against all odds of raising protectionist policies, the business landscape still reflects globalization and an increasing globally mobile workforce. Moreover, compared to even a decade ago, global mobility now comes in a much larger variety of forms, hence human resource professionals need to deal with many different cases, starting from classical long-term expatriates, up to expatriate gig workers and global virtual teams. In other words, the complexities of managing people across borders are an important driver for contemporary IHRM.

In sum, we are currently witnessing changes in (1) who completes relevant global work in organizations, (2) how global work gets done, (3) where global work is done, and, importantly, (4) why people decide to contribute to global work. These current issues and international developments in the field of IHRM, along with many other related topics that are relevant to both research and practice, are covered in the latest edition of International Human Resource Management (Sage), a book I had the privilege to co-edit and contribute to. No matter whether you are a junior scholar, a seasoned academic or an HR professional looking for inspiration on how to update your international people management strategies and practices, I encourage you to sit back and read.

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