one and the many: contemplating conceptions of individual and organisation
in relation to human resource practices
Bramming, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
Resource Management (HRM) today is preoccupied with how to access, enhance,
measure and manage the value generating power and potential of people.
In doing this the tools of HRM almost uniformly focus on the individual,
while the mutual dependency of individual and organisation is emphasised
as being of unique importance.
Further organisations are with some scepticism and misgivings approaching
this seemingly endlessly growing individualisation - which vis-à-vis
the organisation is perceived as a "volatile loyalty of the narcissistic
personality" of actual and future personnel. As Professor Larsen stated:
the problem is recognised, but "...our knowledge about the restless, narcissistic
personality is still limited".
paper will address this theme from a perspective, where individualisation
is conceived of as "...a social condition, which is not arrived at as a
free decision of individuals". This means that seeing individualisation
or individuals for that matter as purely individual phenomena - independent
of any social bonds - is at best erratic. The idea that it is possible
to predict and control performance by isolating the individual is working
from a limited knowledge of the consequences on sociality. And this in
spite of the fact that ways of handling the individual at the same time
is ways of creating the organisation.
In this paper we will discuss this problematic, in order to unfold how
conceptions and representations of individual and organisation is inherent
HR theory and practice, and how these conceptions are creating social spaces
of possibility. The theoretical discussion will besides theory on HRM draw
on general sociological thinking. This discussion will show how individualistic
logic will always be tied closely to a representation of the other. In
opposition to the mainstream sociological analyses, focusing on the lack
of community in the society as a whole, and the rise of the individual,
this paper will not partake in a general 'societal worrying', but will
peruse and unfold new forms of togetherness and new forms of seeing selves
arising in the usage of a Group Focus Appraisal system in a large Danish
presented at the 5th conference on human resource development research
and practice across Europe: International, comparative and cross-cultural
dimensions of HRD. University of Limerick, 27-28 May 2004 (Abstract; full
paper incl. in CD-ROM).