The Challenges to Human Resource Management in the 1990s and Beyond
Brian D. Steffyand Melany E. Baehr
Speculating on the state of human resource management (HRM) in the year 2000 and beyond is not without its risks. Who in 1971 could have predicted the impact on the personnel function of equal employment opportunity, safety, and pension security legislation passed in that decade? This legislation, especially the Civil Rights Act as amended in 1972, forced managers to institute more professional job analysis procedures, as well as more reliable and accurate practices for hiring, promoting, and financially rewarding employees ( Ledvinka, 1982). The personnel function was elevated in organizational stature as managers sought to ensure the legality of human resource (HR) practices and policies. Likewise, how many employers and employees in 1980 were as worried then as they are today about decreased career and earnings opportunities associated with the acquisition/merger wave, corporate restructurings, and downsizings witnessed during the eighties? During that decade approximately 500,000 white-collar jobs were eliminated and, within the managerial ranks, numerous middle-level management positions were cut in an effort to reduce bureaucratic overhead and control costs ( Goldstein, 1988; Handy, 1990). Given these dynamic events over the past two decades, it must be assumed that HRM in the year 2000 cannot be predicted from a linear trend line extending from the present. It is much more probable that the HRM function will have to adapt to unexpected random shocks.
With this precaution in mind, this chapter identifies some of the dynamic forces currently in motion that may change the face of HRM. No attempt is made to provide a comprehensive list of specific forecasts; they can be found elsewhere ( Goldstein, 1988; Handy, 1990; Hirsch, 1987). Instead, we first present a conceptual framework for evaluating the HRM