The man, bearer of knowledge and skills, constitutes the main source of competitive advantage and the most precious asset for companies as he is a creator of value. The correct management of him will achieve that he puts his knowledge into the function of the achievement of the organizational objectives. This article presents an evolutionary analysis from a theoretical perspective of human resource management.


Human Resources are the living elements present in all types of organizations, which, based on their knowledge, skills, and motivations, drive companies to be competitive and achieve their objectives and goals. However, it was not until the 20th century that, due to the constant changes that were taking place in the business environment, the need for adequate synergy between entities and workers was recognized.

Currently, Human Resources Management has become a priority interest for companies, which, in an attempt to survive in the highly competitive, complex, dynamic, and uncertain environment in which they operate, have begun to recognize the strategic role they have in your Human Resources.

Workers are no longer considered just another factor of production; but now, given their knowledge and experience, they constitute the fundamental factor of business activity, capable of generating lasting competitive advantages over time. However, to achieve the excellent and not merely satisfactory performance of their tasks and activities in the position, their motivation, commitment and conduct must also be taken into account, which can only be obtained through proper management of them themselves.

This article analyzes the evolutionary development that human resources management has undergone from a theoretical-conceptual point of view, starting from the dissimilar definitions that exist on the term to particularizing on some of the models that the specialized literature collects for managing them.

 “Human Resources is not something we do. It’s what makes our business work.” Steve Wynn

1. Human Resources Management. An evolutionary analysis.

Business administration is responsible for the planning, organization, direction, and control of the resources of the entities; but who is in charge of carrying out all these tasks; Who controls and organizes the financial, material, technological resources, etc.? The man; Ultimately, his action determines the possible success or failure of an organization. The company needs people for all its activities, so they are also a resource for them; for this reason, its good work is not determined only by the technical-material, economic-financial aspects, but by the attention and relevance that it gives to its Human Resources (HR), in short, they are the ones who, with their actions, generate an advantage competitive for the organization. All innovative technology, creative idea, and everything that can make a company successful or transcendental is the result of the human mind.

All innovative technology, creative idea, and everything that can make a company successful or transcendental is the result of the human mind.

Human Resources are considered the most important asset of companies, but to understand the evolution of the different positions related to them within organizations, it is necessary to know the evolution that Management has had. of Human Resources, which has been marked by the different currents of thought, both practical and theoretical.

The development of Human Resources has been coupled with that of the social relations of production and therefore on a par with the science of administration. According to (Chiavenato, 2007), the administration of Human Resources arises due to the growth and complexity of organizational tasks.

The Industrial Revolution marks the first turning point in the analysis of Human Resources Management since it brought with it that many of the tasks carried out by man were mechanized, which led to serious disagreements for the workers, who were victims of the poor working conditions. It is for this reason that from this moment begins what is known as the first stage in the evolution of human resources that goes from the outbreak of the Industrial Revolution until the middle of the 20th century and that is framed in the context where the school of the Scientific Directorate of Labor was the most influential. The main exponent was Frederick W. Taylor, promoter of the scientific organization of work and author of studies on the increase of productivity and remuneration of work.

This stage was called Personnel Administration, its main objective was to increase productivity and it was oriented towards the control of labor discipline, absenteeism, and the stimulation of yields; it statically manifested itself and aimed at maintaining traditions. Below are some definitions are given by authors who summarize the elements on which this stage focused according to Morales (2002):

  • Processing of registrations and dismissals well carried out files neatly collected and labor legislation correctly applied. Ortuetta (1987)
  • Payment of payroll and compliance with a series of bureaucratic procedures about personnel. Martinez Martinez (1995)
  • Manage the preparation and payment of payroll, and attendance control, and carry out legal procedures about hiring as the most important activities. Ferriol Molina (1996)
  • It is mainly about managing people by current labor legislation and managing the conflicts that continually arose. (Chiavenato, 2007)

It can be concluded that the Personnel Administration focused on the administrative part, basically limited to bureaucratic issues such as the contract, job analysis, location, dismissal, and working conditions. The man was seen as a provider of labor, as a cost that needed to be minimized, and conceived as a “rational-economic” being (Leal, Román, Alfaro, & Rodríguez, 2004).

After the Second World War and until the 1990s, a new stage occurred that is known in specialized literature as the period of Neoclassical Industrialization, the main exponents of which were Elton Mayo and Fritz J. Roethlisberger. The School that prevailed in this period was that of Human Relations and Behavior. Among his fundamental contributions is the conception of the company as a social system, where the worker is the most important component. This School had a more humanistic cut and highlighted aspects such as leadership style, motivation, group dynamics, and its role in raising productivity. He was committed to more flexible management styles and the improvement of the work environment.

At this stage, the changes, worldwide, began to be unpredictable and to occur at a greater speed. Commercial transactions became internationalized and organizations were looking for those models that would allow them to adapt to the new situation.

Thus, the matrix organization arises, accompanied by a lateral departmentalization scheme, by-products, or services, capable of providing a structure with characteristics of innovation and dynamism, and achieving greater competitiveness. To the extent that it innovated, leaving behind those traditional customs, the organizational culture was focused on the current and on achieving harmony with the existing panorama. People were recognized as the only living and intelligent resources to face challenges and not as simple factors of production. The technology that went through an enormous development process began to increasingly influence the organizations and the people who were part of them (Chiavenato, 2007).

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The area in charge of personnel care was renamed Human Resources Administration and began to fulfill other operational and tactical functions. It is interesting in the introduction in the addresses concepts of sociology and psychology. He emphasized people and interpersonal relationships. Its main focuses were informal organization, leadership, group dynamics, management styles, decision theories, and the integration of organizational and individual objectives (Souto Anido, 2015).

Ortueta (1987): Purpose of preventing results and controlling the coincidence between our forecasts and the events that occur daily.

Stoner (1989): It is an administrative function, that deals with the recruitment, placement, training, and development of the members of an organization.

Páez (1991): Design, establish and control the policies, rules, and procedures regarding personnel, facilitating various functions such as selection, training, classification, remuneration, promotion, development, security, relations, and communication.

For Idalberto Chiavenato this is considered as the planning, organization, development, coordination, and control of techniques capable of promoting the efficient performance of the personnel, while the organization represents the means that allows the people who collaborate in them, to achieve objectives directly or indirectly related to work (Chiavenato, 2007).

From the analysis of these definitions, it can be concluded that at this stage the first steps are being taken to reconcile the individual objectives of the workers and the organizations, as well as the preventive nature of the Human Resources functions. The worker begins to be thought of as an active entity, with personal needs and aspirations that the organization must try to satisfy (Chiavenato, 2007).

Starting in the 1990s, the speed and uncertainty with which changes occur at the global level are exacerbated, as is the development of technology, especially information technology, which led to the degree of internationalization of the economy will increase, in such a way, that today the world is highly globalized. This period, which extends to the present and is known as the Information or Knowledge Age, brought with it different changes in business management and the role that knowledge would play in organizations and with it began to be recognized. , that of human resources as these bearers of it. All this resulted in a notable increase in the search for business competitiveness.

The matrix structure could no longer provide organizations with the necessary agility, mobility, and innovation; organizational processes became more important than the areas that constitute the organization, the structure became more flexible and was based on multifunctional work teams, and the organizational culture was oriented towards the future, with an emphasis on change and innovation. People and their knowledge become the basis of the new organization; they are no longer simple resources and are considered as beings endowed with intelligence, knowledge, skills, personality, etc. (Chiavenato, 2007).

Under these conditions, there is a change from Administration to Human Resources Management, defined by Ferriol in 1996 as (…) the activity carried out in the company to: obtain, train, motivate, reward, and develop the human resources that the organization requires. Design and implement the structure, systems, and organizational mechanisms that coordinate the efforts of these resources so that the objectives are set in the most efficient way possible. Create a company culture that integrates all the people that make it up in a community of interests and relationships, with shared goals and values ​​that give meaning, coherence, motivation, and dedication (Morales, 2002).

In this new stage of Management, there was a change in the conception of human resources, whose main support is found in moving from the traditional approach, which assumed people as costs and assumed a contradiction between the economic and social, to recognize the synergy between these two and see the worker as a resource to be invested in and as a competitive advantage.

While the administration stage has a short-term, reactive perspective that lacks a strategic vision, Human Resources Management assumes a long-term, proactive and strategic perspective, it is a more evolved and comprehensive criterion, they give it high attention. to staff training.

Attention is beginning to be directed towards what is known as Strategic Management of Human Resources (GERH), this evolution is the result of the importance that the process of strategic management was acquiring in organizations and the gradual recognition of the human element as a valuable resource. in the strategic management process, both in the implementation of the strategy and in its formulation(Leal, Román, Alfaro, & Rodríguez, 2004, p. 232). The Strategic Management of Human Resources is defined by Cuesta as the set of decisions and managerial actions in the organizational field that influence people, seeking continuous improvement, during the planning, implementation, and control of organizational strategies, considering the interactions with the environment (Cuesta Santos, 2005).

In this phase, the following prevail: the systemic approach, under which the vision is that the Human Resources subsystem is not the sum of its areas, but rather that they are interrelated; the multidisciplinary approach that indicates the need to take into account different scientific disciplines; the participatory nature, which glimpses the growing influence of employees in the organization’s activities and especially in decision-making; the proactive approach, which points to early action; the process approach centered on the client, both internal and external, which is characterized by considering the chain of creation of the new added value from the supplier to the client, and the approach based on labor competencies, characterized by managing considering the job skills carried by the people who work.

With Human Resources Management, new concepts begin to be handled when considering the human factor; as is the term Human Capital. Idalberto Chiavenato states that it is made up of the talents and skills of the people who make up the organization and that need to be preserved and developed since they are capable of adding greater value to the company and making it more competitive (Chiavenato, 2007).

This concept has also been interpreted in Cuba, from a socialist perspective, as The set of knowledge, experiences, skills, feelings, attitudes, motivations, values, ​​and ability to do, carried by workers to create more wealth with efficiency. It is also the conscience, ethics, solidarity, spirit of sacrifice, and heroism (Cuban Standard 3000: 2007, 2007).

According to Armando Cuesta, Human Capital includes the capacities to do work given by the knowledge, skills, and feelings of the workers (…), they are bearers of Human Capital, which will be determined by the context in which they find themselves. (Cuesta Santos, 2010).

In turn, definitions such as Human Talent emerge, to refer to the intellectual aptitude of the men of an organization valued for their natural or acquired capacity for their performance (Morales, 2002).

Coffman and González describe talent as innate, something that stands out in individuals, as long as it is recognized and used, which allows them to improve decision-making and obtain better results (Coffman & González, 2002).

Moreno and Godoy define it as an intangible capital that gives value to organizations because it represents the center of any organization and therefore drives all their activities with its potential. It is strengthened by intangible capital, human capital, and social capital (Moreno & Godoy, 2012).

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In Cuba, the concept of Human Capital is used, which has also been defined by Commander Fidel Castro Ruz in 2005 as a notion that implies […] not only knowledge, but also -and very essentially- conscience, ethics, solidarity, feelings truly human, the spirit of sacrifice, heroism, and the ability to do a lot with very little (Souto Anido, 2015).

Odriozola (2007) criticizes why the use of the Human Capital category is not convenient in a socialist system, emphasizing the marked character of a material component that is given to human beings under this concept.

Odriozola then proposes to replace this concept with the category “Human Potential”, which he defines as the set of knowledge and values ​​assimilated by people, which contribute to the improvement of their productive and creative skills, to the expansion of their capacities to participate in a conscious in the social project of which they are part and their full realization as individuals (Odriozola, 2007)

In the Cuban Standard 3000:2007, the following are defined as the key processes or activities of Human Resources Management that are:

  1. Labor competencies: Synergistic set of knowledge, skills, experiences, feelings, attitudes, motivations, personal characteristics, and values, based on demonstrated suitability, associated with the superior performance of the worker and the organization, in correspondence with the technical, productive, and of services. It is an essential requirement that these competencies are observable and measurable and that they contribute to the achievement of the organization’s objectives.
  2. Institutional communication: Process that integrates a set of organically structured actions in an organization to provide information in a planned manner, relate its members, build common goals, share meanings, and directly and indirectly influence the behavior of its members, to achieve the projected objectives and facilitate relations with workers, users or clients, and the environment.
  3. Organization of work: Process that integrates human capital with technology, work means, and materials in organizations in the work process (productive, services, information, or knowledge), through the application of methods and procedures that make it possible to work collaboratively. rational, harmonious, and uninterrupted manner, with required levels of health and safety, ergonomic and environmental requirements, to achieve maximum productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness and meet the needs of society and its workers.
  4. Selection and integration: Capacity of the system to attract, select, train, promote, evaluate and stimulate people according to the values ​​of the labor organization, for their integration.
  5. Training: Set of continuous and planned preparation actions, conceived as an investment, developed by organizations aimed at improving the skills and qualifications of workers, to fulfill the functions of the position with quality, ensure their successful performance and achieve maximum results. production or services.
  6. Development of Human Capital: Continuous and simultaneous training process aimed at achieving knowledge, multi-skills, and values ​​in workers that allow them to hold positions with a broad profile, with the skills for superior job performance.
  7. The self-control of the Integrated Human Capital Management: Systematic control activity, which is carried out by the organization itself, is aimed at measuring the impact on the achievement of the objectives and the strategy, based on evaluating in practice the effectiveness of the processes of integrated human capital management.
  8. Performance evaluation: Systematic measurement of the degree of effectiveness and efficiency with which workers carry out their work activities during a given period and their potential development, and constitutes the basis for preparing and executing the individual training and development plan.
  9. Material stimulation: A system of actions that interact and are integrated with moral stimulation, to motivate workers to achieve efficiency and effectiveness and to achieve the strategic objectives of the organization. Payment according to work, for quantity and quality, is the main element of material stimulation.
  10. Moral stimulation: System of actions that are carried out to promote the development of socialist morality at work and the sense of belonging; recognize and promote the labor contribution of the workers in the achievement of the strategic objectives and the elevation of the culture of the organization, as well as the individual and collective satisfaction of the workers.
  11. Safety and health at work: Activity aimed at creating the conditions, capacities, and culture of prevention so that the worker and his organization carry out the work efficiently and without risks, ensuring ergonomic conditions, avoiding events that cause damage derived from work, which may affect their health and integrity, the heritage of the organization and the environment.

These activities are managed with a systemic approach (Figure 1), as mentioned above, to guarantee the efficiency and effectiveness of Human Resources Management.

As a result of the systemic approach that must prevail in the strategic management of human resources, each process plays a preponderant role in the correct performance of this subsystem. Without adequate planning, it is not possible to know the true demand for workers that a company has, then problems such as an excess of workers that will have to be fired or a shortage that will cause having to start the process again will be incurred. Not designing the job well will cause doubts for future applicants. The lack of objectivity and professionalism when selecting a worker will result in the choice not being the most convenient for the organization. If the worker is not stimulated through remuneration and encouraged in their development and training will result in demotivation and some cases loss of valuable workers. Thus, each one plays a specific but decisive role in the management of human resources and at the same time, they are interrelated.

The following section analyzes some of the main models included in the specialized literature for human resource management.

2. Classic models for human resource management

The management of human resources, like the management of organizations as a whole, has been changing over time to respond to the challenges that have been posed to organizations at all times. It is the changes that have occurred in the environment in which they are immersed, which have required increasingly advanced management systems in general.

The systemic conception of the current Human Resources Management has promoted the search for functional models that reflect the peculiarities of the organization adjusted to its culture and the culture of the country, where the human being is central.

From the study of the Human Resources Management models, the following general guidelines are corroborated:

  1. Human resources are the most important strategic asset of organizations.
  2. In general, three subsystems are recognized as part of the Human Resources Management system: entry, permanence, and training and development.
  3. Human Resources Management must integrate the strategic management of the organization.
  4. A retrospective analysis of the management models confirms that they are all made up of activities, systems, and subsystems that, beyond the denomination given to them by different authors, constitute the raison d’être of the Human Resources Management system.

The main Models that the specialized literature collects are presented below:

Scarpello And Ledvinka Model (1988)

This model takes into account environmental variables —customers, competition, technology, labor force, union, and government— and internal variables —finance, commercial, and production areas. In its design, the mission, objectives, strategies, policies, plans, and programs are considered. The human resources management system is structured in Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation of Results.

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Its main limitation is that it does not recognize auditing as a key function in the human resource management system. Their results are relative to productivity, insofar as they affect efficiency and effectiveness.

Model of Heneman et al (1989)

This model is logical and applicable to different companies. It is developed from environmental variables: economic forces, labor market, labor unions, and laws and regulations. The Human Resources Management system is structured in human resources activities and human resources results.

However, the role of human resources in business strategy is not made explicit, nor is how the mission, objectives, and organizational strategies impact the design of Human Resources Management. Auditing is not recognized as a key function in the Human Resources Management system.

Schuler and Huber model (1990)

The model is configured by taking into account elements of the internal and external environment. Both spaces impact the functions of planning, provision, evaluation, compensation, and improvement. It explicitly states its goals for attracting, retaining, and motivating employees, as well as the ability to make such a model work at the strategic, managerial, and operational levels. It is proposed to increase productivity, and improve quality of life and work commitment.

As the main limitation, it can be pointed out that the function of socialization is not made explicit. Auditing is not recognized as a key function in the Human Resources Management system.

Ivancevich’s model (1992)

The authors consider it essential for efficient HR management to take into consideration the influences of the external and internal environment for the design of their model, which takes the individual as its center. Said individual, to influence and be influenced in the activities of the HR management and the criteria of effectiveness, must-have skills, aptitudes, motivation, and personality. The output of the model must generate competitive products and services, which are defined as organizational results. The model considers organizational efficiency based on the analysis of the following functions: acquisition, reward allocation, human resource development, protection, and evaluation. The model seeks to promote ethical and responsible practices,

Nor does this model make the function of socialization explicit. Auditing is not recognized as a key function in the Human Resources Management system. The functions of human resources subsystems are not grouped.

Werther and Davis model (1992)

The model is developed by taking into consideration the social, organizational, functional, and personnel objectives, to define and establish the functions of the human resources management system. The authors take both the microenvironment and the external environment into consideration while defining planning, development and evaluation, compensation, interpersonal relations, union relations, as well as fundamentals and challenges as relevant functions.

It does not group the functions of human resources into subsystems, and the functions of job design, recruitment, and socialization are not recognized.

Harper & Lynch Consulting Group Model (1992)

The model takes as its starting point the strategic plan of the organization. Variables such as the inventory of personnel, the evaluation of human potential, the organizational climate, and the motivation for the design of the model are considered. The authors pursue the optimal management of Human Resources.

However, the functions of recruitment and socialization are not recognized. It does not group human resources functions by subsystems.

Beer et al model (1992)

The model seeks to improve organizational efficiency and social and individual well-being. In this sense, the human resources policies defined by the authors are taken into consideration: the influence of employees, the flow of human resources, the work system, and the reward system, whose results are specified in aspects such as commitment, competence, consistency, and cost-effectiveness. The existence of interest groups and situation factors is recognized. The model establishes internal integration in the processes of Human Resources Management and conceives human resources as a competitive advantage for the company’s performance and results.

As a limitation, it can be pointed out that in its initial conceptualization it did not recognize the audit activity.

Chiavenato Model (1993)

This is one of the most used models. The author groups the functions of human resources in the provision, application, maintenance, development, and control subsystems, referring to the interrelation between them. The cause-effect logic that is generated between each of the functions that make up the human resources system is evident. Assesses the interrelationship between human resource management and business strategy. He takes into account the development of human resources activities with the objectives of efficiency and equity

It is recognized as a limitation that the audit is not considered an activity of transcendental importance in the management of Human Resources. It does not conceive the participation of workers in the business management process.

Regardless of their limitations, these are what are recognized as the classic models for human resource management, they have served as the basis for the development of countless procedures, methodologies, and models that have human resource management as their center. regardless of whether they can be adapted to the particularities of each environment.

Final considerations

  • The speed and magnitude of the changes that have taken place in the business environment have caused an evolution in the way of managing Human Resources, leading to the fact that they are currently considered a strategic factor capable of generating competitive advantages for organizations.
  • The analysis of the different models of human resources management suggests that their purposes are very common: organize, collect, control activities, and strengthen a methodology or procedure for the management of human resources in organizations. However, it is important to clarify that, in terms of human resources, there is no correct and immovable formula. They must work with tailored suits that adapt to the particularities of each environment. Hence the importance of knowing the evolution that the evolution of the same has undergone, as well as the classic management models that have given rise to dissimilar procedures, methodologies, and models,


Man, the bearer of knowledge and skills, is the main source of competitive advantage and the most precious asset for companies as a creator of value. The correct management of the same will achieve that the human resources put their knowledge into the function of the achievement of the organizational objectives. This article presents an evolutionary analysis from a theoretical perspective of human resource management.



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