n Acta Commercii - Capital-centric versus knowledge-centric paradigms of human resource management : a historical perspective : original research

Volume 16, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 2413-1903
  • E-ISSN: 1684-1999



Central to understanding the contemporary state of the human resource management (HRM) field is knowledge of its history, and the underlying rationales as to why it has changed over time. This research attempts to identify one such important 'rationale'.

This article relates certain changes in HRM over time to the argument that there has been a shift from an industrial paradigm (on which many human resource [HR] systems, practices and theoretical frameworks are still based) to a knowledge paradigm (of knowledge work, in which employee knowledge and skills offer compound advantages that are not substitutable) which explains a great deal of the variance in changes of the field over time.
It is argued that in order for the field to move forward, it may need to bring to the surface certain assumptions and differentiate between theoretical frameworks when dealing with knowledge work versus non-knowledge work.
This article offers a perspective of HR theory development over time. It is a conceptual/perspectives article and is not qualitative nor quantitative in nature. Further research will be able to test the ideas presented here.
Managers and human resources managers need to differentiate between knowledge and non-knowledge work. The latter is associated with increased heterogeneity and complexity, and differences in power relationships, as knowledge work shifts power away from capital into the hands of skilled knowledge labour.

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