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  • Writer's pictureKhurram Rana

A brief history of HR ( and more )

Updated: Jun 5, 2023


Human Resource management is not a new concept. Thou, I believe it has been standardized much recently, the railway applications or the Ford motor company etc models.

Nevertheless, it has been around since the stone age in my humble opinion.

Imagine group hunting expeditions or the segregation of hunters and gatherers or the medical specialist of the time.



The recruitment and or temporary staffing based on skills or previous success of individuals. Compensation based on hierarchy in the group.

Rewards or bonuses based on involvement in the sucess of the hunt.

Certificates or “employee of the month” in the form of celebrations or victory paintings on walls with reference to one hunter.

Retirement benefits for older group members who are not able to hunt ( work ).


See the similarity… that's why I always say that being an HR manager is not about being an MBA or CHRP certified… its about an attitude, a set of behavioral skills that make all the difference.


The origins of the human resources profession can be traced back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. At that time, industrialization and the rise of large corporations led to a growing need for trained professionals who could manage the rapidly expanding workforce.


Some actual history of HR as per the books and the internet


One of the earliest forms of human resources management was the personnel department, which was responsible for recruiting, hiring, and managing employees.


These departments were typically headed by a personnel manager or personnel director, who was responsible for the overall management of the department.


The field of industrial psychology also emerged during this time, as researchers began to study the behavior of employees in the workplace and the factors that influenced their performance.

This research helped to inform the development of new human resources management practices, such as the selection and training of employees.


In the 1920s and 1930s, the field of human resources management began to take shape as a distinct profession.


Professional associations, such as the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology and the National Society for Personnel Administration, were established to promote the development and professionalization of the field.


Today, human resources profession continues to evolve and adapt to the changing needs of organizations and the workforce. It is a multifaceted profession that encompasses a wide range of responsibilities, including recruitment, training and development, employee relations, and compensation and benefits.


OD and HR


Organizational development (OD) is a field that is closely related to human resources (HR). Both OD and HR are concerned with improving the effectiveness of organizations and the well-being of employees.


We have all heard of Organizational Design (OD) which is a process-oriented approach to improving the performance of organizations through changes in their structures, processes, and cultures. It is often used to address specific issues such as improving communication, increasing productivity, or enhancing employee engagement.


Whereas HR, is focused on managing the human aspect of organizations, including recruiting, hiring, training, and developing employees, as well as managing employee relations, compensation, and benefits.


In many organizations thou, the functions of OD and HR are closely related, and they are often integrated into a single department, while in others they can be separate and with different responsibilities and functions.



Human Resource resources and leaders


There are many thought leaders in the human resources (HR) profession who have made significant contributions to the field through their research, writing, and practice.


Some of the most well-known and influential thought leaders in the HR profession include:


Dave Ulrich: Professor of Business Administration at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, and a leading expert on human resources strategy and organizational design. He has written several books on the topic, including "HR Champions" and "The HR Value Proposition".


Michael Beer: The Cahners-Rabb Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus at Harvard Business School, Beer is a leading expert on organizational change and development, with a focus on the role of top management and leadership in driving change.


Peter Drucker: A management consultant, educator, and author, Drucker is considered the father of modern management, and his work has had a significant impact on the field of human resources management.


Daniel Kahneman: A psychologist and economist, who received the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his work in behavioral economics, his work on decision-making and cognitive biases has had a great impact on how organizations think about human behavior and management.


Marcus Buckingham: An expert on strengths-based management, Buckingham has written several books on the topic, including "First, Break All the Rules" and "Now, Discover Your Strengths", and advocates for a shift in management focus from fixing weaknesses to developing strengths.


Francesca Gino: A Professor at Harvard Business School and an expert on organizational behavior and management, with a focus on creativity, ethics, and decision-making.


Clayton Christensen: A Harvard Business School professor, known for his research on disruptive innovation, and its impact on the management of people and organizations.


Tom Peters: Management expert and author, known for his work on organizational excellence, and for co-authoring the book "In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies"


Gary Hamel: A management thinker and strategist, known for his work on innovation, strategy, and organizational design.


Rosabeth Moss Kanter: A Harvard Business School professor, known for her work on organizational change, innovation, and strategy.


Marshall Goldsmith: A leadership coach and author, known for his work on executive coaching and leadership development.


Henry Mintzberg: A management expert and author, known for his work on organizational structure and design.


Susan David: A Harvard Medical School psychologist, known for her work on emotional intelligence and its role in leadership and organizational performance.


Herminia Ibarra: A Professor at INSEAD and expert on leadership, career development, and diversity in organizations.


Adam Grant: A Professor at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, known for his research on organizational behavior and work culture, with a focus on motivation and creativity.


There are so many other amazing and wise contributors to this professional in both research and practice that the list is not exhaustive.


Name some that you know or have read ?




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Khurram Rana