The focus of human resource management (HRM) is to manage people within the employer-employee relationship (Stone, 1995). However, such a broad definition is unable to distinguish HRM from its" predecessor" - Personnel Management. Some say that HRM "involves the productive utilisation of people" (Stone, 1995: p. 4), and is therefore more proactive than Personnel Management (Harrison, 1993: p.32). Others say that HRM is unique in that it seeks to strategically integrate the human resource (HR) function within the overall corporate strategy (Boxall, 1996; Skelton, 1996). Furthermore, HRM can be described as having a "hard" and a "soft" version. Such elasticity in the use of the term HRM makes the development of a general theory for HRM seemingly impossible. .
Within most large organisations, HRM has taken on much the same role as Personnel Management, but with some additions, particularly in regard to business strategy. However, HRM essentially involves the policies and practices one needs to carry out the human resource aspects of a management position, including recruiting, screening, training, rewarding, and appraising (Dessler, 1997; p. 2). This nucleus of responsibility for HRM is being shifted from specialists to all managers (Ezzamel et al,1996; p. 65), and is therefore in a position to advance the cause of the business. By becoming integrated with line management, HRM can become an important functional activity (Tyson, 1995; p. 165-166), rather than simply a "big hat, no cattle" role (Fernie et al, 1994). This issue of integration with the general management is an important one for HRM. There is already some evidence to indicate that when senior management manages HR issues they are taken more seriously (Guest, 1989;p. 51). .
One of the most evident changes in the role of HRM is its growing acceptance as a developer and implementer of strategy. The strategy of a business "defines the direction in which an organisation intends to move and establishes the framework for action through which it intends to get there" (Schmerhorn, 1984; cited in Stone, 1995:p.