Human Resource Planning Introduction HR Management

Planning for human resources has had a fairly chequered history (Torrington et al., 2002). The subject, initially termed ‘manpower planning’, first rose to prominence in the 1960s when the emphasis was on the means of achieving growth in production against a backdrop of skills shortages and relatively stable, predictable world markets. At this time, much of the emphasis was on the application of statistical and mathematical techniques (see, for example, Bartholemew, 1976).

However, by the early 1980s manpower planning was seen by many as largely irrelevant as it had become associated with growth, five-year plans and bureaucracy at a time when many organisations were preoccupied with having to contract and become more flexible (Cowling and Walters, 1990: 3). Since then, human resource planning has often been denigrated, with the result that it has received relatively little attention in the literature and has become less widely used in organisations (Taylor, 2002).

The demise of HRP can seem rather ironic as it appears to have occurred at the same time as there have been increasing call for people management to become a more strategic activity. After defining the terminology, the chapter outlines the traditional approach to HRP; it then considers more contemporary variants; explores the application of HRP in practice; and finally explores the link between HRP and strategic HRM.

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