A Human Is Not a Resource

18 Pages Posted: 15 Jan 2018 Last revised: 16 Aug 2018

See all articles by Ewan McGaughey

Ewan McGaughey

School of Law, King's College, London; Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge; University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law Study Group

Date Written: January 10, 2018

Abstract

The language of ‘human resource management’ treats people as a means to an end. Three core tenets of human resource literature are that it is desirable to have (1) labour ‘flexibility’ and ‘mobility’ in a peripheral workforce, (2) individual (not social) responsibility for employment searching, and (3) a manager’s right to manage, without accountability. This article explores the cutting edge evidence, which show human resource theory harms productivity and human development. It explores the effects of ‘HR’ in the UK, EU and international regulation on atypical work, full employment, and union voice. Where human resource beliefs have pervaded the most, the outcomes are the worst: lower productivity, higher unemployment, more inequality, less growth. To advance prosperity, economic risks must be distributed to the organisations best placed to bear them, people must have security to plan for the future, and people must have real votes at work through collective bargaining and corporate governance. Many people who themselves work in ‘HR’ strongly disagree with the essential elements of their discipline. They support equality, security and democracy at work. Just as international law once affirmed that ‘labour is not a commodity’, for social justice in the 21st century there must be a conviction that a human is not a resource. ‘HR’ must change in name and substance, to advance human development and human rights.

Keywords: Human Resource Management, Labour Is Not a Commodity, Social Justice, Job Security, Full Employment, Trade Unions, Votes at Work, Productivity, Human Rights

JEL Classification: J01, K31, L21, L22, L52, P1, P16, F16

Suggested Citation

McGaughey, Ewan, A Human Is Not a Resource (January 10, 2018). King's College London Law School Research Paper No. 2018-08. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3099470 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3099470

Ewan McGaughey (Contact Author)

School of Law, King's College, London; Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge ( email )

Somerset House East Wing
Strand
London, WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://kclpure.kcl.ac.uk/portal/ewan.mcgaughey.html

University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law Study Group

Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
247
rank
117,027
Abstract Views
1,512
PlumX Metrics