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Subject The one and the many: contemplating conceptions of individual and organisation in relation to human resource practices
Pia Bramming, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
Outline Human 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". 
This 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 financial organisation.
Source Paper 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).
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