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Why are humans referred to as resources and what is the difference between humans and resources?

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September 22, 2007 11:20PM

A. Why Humans ( People ) are Called Resources? Prior to humans being called resources, they were either called slaves, servants, labourers, workers, employees, staff, personnel etc depending on their "ownership" or relationship with the other party desirous of their economic contribution and the socio-politico order of the day. With the industrial revolution and the rise of economics theory and thinkers, Adam Smith's production formula of Land, Labour and Capital became popular. The mobilisation of large numbers of people became the job of establishment departments or labour departments, later known as personnel (NOT personal) departments, and now HR Departments. In the academic world, the study of humans took a scientific approach, and social studies became accepted as social sciences, and the study of human behaviour, in groups and as individuals, became known as behaviourial sciences. "Industrial psychologists" also manage to find berths in Personnel Departments and HR Departments of large corporations and multi-nationals. Scientific management led to the question of "what is there to manage?", and the answer was (and still is?) as follows; 1. cost 2. time 3. resources Resources can be broken down as follows; 1. financial 2. human 3. materials / equipment / technology (knowledge) Thus giving rise to the phrase human resources! B. What is the Difference Between Human and Resources? 21st century thinking is beginning to give more credit to humans, viewing them (us!) as more than a production unit that is capable of innovation and creativity, essential ingredients in the knowledge economy. The fall of communism and the dominance of capitalism and rising consumerism, plus globalisation and centralisation (polarisation?) of production capacities to achieve massive economies of scale, and competition to secure energy sources, has only shifted our views of humans slightly ie from pure (human) resources to humans as a source of knowledge. Hence the "what's to manage" thingy looks like following; 1. cost 2. time 3. resources with resources categorised as follows; 1. financial (capital) 2. human knowledge (capital) 3. materials / technology / energy thus the present buzz words "human capital" as a key competitive edge / leverage in a global and knowledge-driven world economy. Industrial psychologists and social engineers are kept busy at finding ways of "humaneering" the corporate culture and the work place (family place?). So people, Got it? If not, see your Chief Learning Officer!