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The Evolution of Human Resource Management

By Sandy Reed, SPHR and Myrna L. Gusdorf, MBA, SPHR  10/4/2010

This learning module is divided into three classes and covers a brief history of American labor and the evolving function of human resource management. The first class is an overview of American labor history from the colonial period to the early 1900s. There was little actual HR management during this time, but it is important history that sets the stage for understanding the development of human resource management in the 20th century. The second class covers early labor unrest at the beginning of the 20th century; the Depression; World War II; and the post-war years of the 1950s. In this time period, we see the rise of the industrial relations professional and the personnel administrator, forerunners of contemporary HR managers. The last session starts with the civil rights movement of the 1960s and ends with contemporary issues that continue to shape today’s HR management in its current strategic role. Throughout the material you will see commentary on major historical events that, while seemingly unrelated to HR practice, will enable students to place the evolution of HR into the context of the times. The material covers the social, political and economic issues that shaped the current practice of HR. The intent of the module is to introduce students to the major historical events that influenced contemporary HR. This learning module is appropriate for undergraduate students in a human resource management or business management program. Click here to download the instructor’s manual. For the PowerPoint presentation, click here.

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