Impact of ‘new science’ framework on HRM

By John Dudovskiy

new scienceThe so-called new science has been perceived as a possible source of influence on HRM by Audrey Collin (2010) in Contextualising HRM: developing critical thinking. The new science approach, also known as a holistic approach involves studying issues as a whole, rather than by dividing them into components. This approach has been developed to challenge Newton’s mechanic notion of universe that advocates the idea of dividing ideas and objects into small forming components so that they can be studied with an increased level of efficiency (Achouri, 2012).

Collin (2010) advocates the idea of adopting a holistic approach towards HRM by convincingly claiming that this approach will assist in understanding the complexity of issues. Specifically, the author states that “to understand complexity, new approaches that recognise the whole rather than just its parts – a holistic approach – and attention to relationships between the parts needed, and these are being developed” (Collins, 2010, p.98).

This viewpoint towards business management in general and HRM in particular deserves to be agreed with for several reasons. First of all, HRM functions need to be reminded and analysed to justify this claim. The functions of HRM can be divided into two, managerial and operative categories. Managerial HRM functions include planning, organising, staffing, directing, and controlling, whereas, operative functions consist of procurement, development, compensation, maintenance and motivation, integration, and industrial relations (Pravin, 2010).

According to new science, or holistic approach these HRM functions need to be dealt with as whole, rather than separate components. For instance, “HR planning aims, in general, for the target and task oriented allocation of employable human resources for a specified or indefinite period” (Michalski, 2011, p.13). If this important HR function is dealt with as a separate issue from other HR and other organisational functions, than this may lead to loss of flexibility for the organisation at least.

In other words, the planning function of HRM, like it’s any other function has to be dealt with an integrated manner with other organisational processes and functions in order to organisational objectives to be achieved with an increased level of efficiency.

Likewise, employee motivation has been recognised as one of the most important operative function of HRM (Armstrong, 2008), however in order to produce successful results employee motivation issues need to be dealt with taking into account a wide range of other issues and realities related to the organisation such as employee skills and competencies finance, organisational culture etc.

Moreover, it has been stated that “holistic approach is required that provides the basis for integrated HR strategies to address specific issues in the main areas of resourcing, development, reward, and employee relations” (Armstrong and Baron, 2002, p.137).

To summarise, the increasing influence of new science or holistic approach on HRM argued by Collin (2010) can be specified as a valid and justified stance. This is because highly intensifying level of competition in the marketplace has increased the importance of organisational flexibility and constant search for competitive edge has become a necessity for companies. Therefore, unless organisations approach all of HR and other organisational functions in an integrated manner, they would be compromising the level of their competitiveness to a great extend.

Moreover, holistic approach on HRM is necessary for public sector organisations as well, due to its significant contribution on increasing the level of organisational efficiency in general, and improving HR practices in particular.


  • Achouri, C. (2012) “Modern Systemic Leadership: A Holistic Approach for Managers, Coaches and HR Professionals” John Wily & Sons
  • Armstrong, M. (2008) “Strategic Human Resource Management: A Guide to Action” Kogan Page
  • Armstrong, M. & Baron, A. (2002) “Strategic HRM: The Key to Improved Business Performance” CIPD

Category: HRM