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Utilitarianism as a Normative Ethical Concept

Discuss about the Contemporary People Management.

Contemporary people management (CPM) and human resource management (HRM) have a great impact on the institutions, society, and humanity. CPM and HRM function effectively when combined as they reinforce each other. CPM and HRM generate positive outcomes in an organization. However, effective HRM has barriers as it can be achieved through hard and soft techniques (Abreu and Badii, 2006 p.102). This paper explores utilitarianism as well as the happiness principle as the theoretical dimensions. As utilitarianism argues, it is evident that human happiness can be viewed as an ethical objective. Significantly, CPM and HRM contribute to the ethical objective through various ways as seen in this essay (Bolton and Houlihan, 2007 p.150). As experts indicate, CPM and HRM face ethical challenges which are connected to remuneration, employees, benefits, recognition, reward, health, and safety measures. This essay outlines the association between utilitarianism, CPM, and HRM.


Utilitarianism is referred to as a normative ethical concept which put a locus based on the right as well as wrong on the basis of results connected to the individual selected actions. This theory suggests that best actions increase utility (Wilcox, 2008 p.203. The utility is perceived as the well-being of an individual or all the pleasures generated through actions. Moreover, utilitarianism views the interests of human-beings as equal. The utilitarian theory incorporates both hard and soft ethics in human resource management. The hard HRM uses the staff to satisfy the organizational needs and meet goals. On the other hand, the soft HRM focuses on employees where they are seen as the main subjects. At some point, utilitarianism does not agree with some points. For instance, utilitarianism disagrees that actions should be selected in the context of anticipated outcomes or if participants should obey the rules that maximize utilitarianism. However, the theory is outlined in a different perspective by Epicurus and Aristippus in the hedonists as they view happiness as the significant good of utilitarianism tradition. In this case, the utility is also viewed as the happiness principle.


Assuming the concept of rational egoism, utilitarianism theory maximizes the general happiness of many people. Especially, in the case of decision-making, utilitarianism provides individuals with action evaluations which are acquired considering their consequences (Beardwell and Claydon, 2007 p.35). The theory produces practical results if the consequences are weighed. Utilitarianism can be explained using an example of a doctor and a patient Using utilitarianism, lying may be considered as good as it saves a patient and family from heartbreaking news and great happiness is experienced, However, utilitarianism indicates that lying may cause more harm to the patient (Shields, Brown, Kaine, Dolle-Samuel, North-Samardzic, McLean, Johns, O'Leary, Robinson and Plimmer, 2015 p.100). In decision-making, the anticipated consequences provide individuals with an opportunity to predict the right options. In addition, utilitarianism may be employed in a situation of a dilemma as it views people in an equal perspective.  In such a way, utilitarianism contributes to advantages of many people and it correlates to the greatest happiness principle. Therefore, the issue of the Greatest Happiness Principle is the most significant in utilitarianism. For instance, the inability to foresee consequences as well as foresee the future on an action, In addition, the Greatest Happiness Principle is connected to several flaws. For instance, since people fail to predict future in regard to their actions, in case future can be altered by those actions then the individual actions may fail. Moreover, the unforeseen impacts of individual actions fail, in regard to utilitarianism it is considered unethical. The Greatest Happiness Principle gives people the opportunity to hurt others as far as the majority is happy. The principle also ignores the government laws which are created to guide the individual morals.

Relationship between Utilitarianism, HRM, and CPM


Human Resource Management refers to the organization function which concentrates on recruitment, directing, as well as managing the employees. HRM seeks to address issues connected to management performance, compensation, safety, organization development, employees’ well-being, motivation, benefits, training, and others. Moreover, HRM is an effective technique which is adopted and offers a company direction to achieve organizational goals and objectives.  Many organizations opt to outsource the HR services to the recruitment companies. The HRM aims to utilize the employees and their estimated impacts on the organization programs. Successful organizations adopt HRM as it is resilient, customer-oriented, as well as flexible to change the organizational direction (Bratton and Gold, 2017 p.40). Therefore, an effective HRM is a vital aspect for the success of a business. The HRM professionals develop systems that support development of performance, development of employees, as well as succession of career planning. In addition, effective HRM keeps the employees motivated, engaged, happy, and contribute towards accompanies success. In simple words, the HRM experts assists the organizations in the development of culture as well as an environment which facilitates competency to the employees as well as their commitment to offer quality services to the customers. The business environment offers HRM professionals with relevant knowledge and skills. On the other hand, the CPM refers to the process of managing individuals. The CPM lies within the HRM and focuses on issues such as policy, strategic, financial, and those that involve people. In the contemporary society, there is an increased number of employees in the developed economies. The developed economies are characterized by skilled and professional jobs which require creative, conceptual, and theoretical skills (Eggleston and Miller, 2014 p.38). Therefore, CPM is used to flatten the institutions and enhance the devolution of people management. For instance, reducing corporate managers to line managers, who are commonly known to engage in people management. There are several changes which are related to knowledge at work, development of service, and flexibility in the organizations which require people to devote their skills. Basically, CPM is about managing people who determine the success of an organization (Hayry, 2013 p.13). In simple words, CPM contributes to organizational performance. It is evident if institutions offer fairness and react ethically towards employees, it is expected that there will be a low employee turnover unlike those that treat employees unfairly. If CPM contributes to the success of an organization, then it perfectly fit between HRM and management practices (Mill, 2016 p.337). Employees should be aware that organizations seek people who can contribute to the organization’s success.

Barriers to Effective HRM


CPM and HRM relate to each other in various ways. To start with, CPM refers to the smart management of human skills or managing people to support their efforts towards achieving organizational goals. Clearly, CPM focuses on the HRM solutions which are viewed as an added value to the people as well as institution. Also, CPM connects to HRM as it is seen as an extended role of HRM and its significant aim is to enhance the organizational communication skills through people management (Hall, Pilbeam and Corbridge, 2012 p.100). The two concepts relate to each other as CMP is viewed as a HRM practice which facilitates organizational performance. The two concepts seek to address issues which prevail in organizational and people management by providing solutions to issues impacting managers and the staff for the betterment of the institution. Moreover, CPM and HRM seek to maintain a code of ethics and humanity in the institution. This step intends to ensure that the management and employees abide by the ethical policies and observe the appropriate moral conduct. The two concepts facilitate effective communication between managers and people to reach an agreement and meet organizational goals. Basically, CPM and HRM focus on enhancing organizational profitability and ensure that managers and employees work together towards hitting the organizational targets. The two concepts also ensure that strategies are utilized to benefit the institution in various ways (Stahl, Björkman, and Morris, 2012 p.50). In the context of utilitarianism, CPM and HRM maximize utility in a company by facilitating anxiety and stress to employees as they develop the need to work towards a common goal. The rules and policies of employees in any institution are viewed in the context of utility (Rogers, 2016 p.20). CPM and HRM connect as managers seek to maximize the employees’ happiness so that they can be energized to work towards the organizational target.  CPM and HRM play significant roles to ensure the managers and employees observe the main organizational ethics in the institution. For example, managers and employees are expected to maintain justice and quality of services.

To summarize, the details outlined in this paper indicates that the utilitarianism promotes the Greatest Happiness Principle by upholding the right actions. Clearly, the actions that facilitate happiness, as well as pleasure, are the right actions while the reverse in the context of wrong actions is also true. Human resource management anticipates fulfilling the organizational goals. Also, the contemporary people management seeks to meet organizational goals through management of people. HRM also seek to observe ethics. Both CPM and HRM enhance happiness among managers and employees as they recognize performance which is rewarded in an institution. Both CPM and HRM maximize the organizational welfare and benefits for both the managers and employees. However, the flaws of utilitarianism are that it ignores some ethical principles in its view such as the government policies. Therefore, organizations should seek to adopt both CPM and HRM as they contribute to the success of the institution.

Abreu, J.L. and Badii, M.H., 2006. Proposal of an ethical model for human resourse management. International Journal of Good Conscience, 1(1), pp.102-120.

Beardwell, J. and Claydon, T. eds., 2007. Human resource management: A contemporary approach. Pearson Education.

Bolton, S.C. and Houlihan, M. eds., 2007. Searching for the human in human resource management: Theory, practice and workplace contexts. Palgrave Macmillan.

Bratton, J. and Gold, J., 2017. Human resource management: theory and practice. Palgrave.

Eggleston, B. and Miller, D.E. eds., 2014. The Cambridge companion to utilitarianism. Cambridge University Press.

Hall, D., Pilbeam, S. and Corbridge, M. eds., 2012. Contemporary themes in strategic people management: a case-based approach. Palgrave Macmillan.

Hayry, M., 2013. Liberal utilitarianism and applied ethics. Routledge.

Mill, J.S., 2016. Utilitarianism. In Seven Masterpieces of Philosophy (pp. 337-383). Routledge.

Rogers, C., 2016. Intellectual Disability and Being Human: A Care Ethics Model.

Shields, J., Brown, M., Kaine, S., Dolle-Samuel, C., North-Samardzic, A., McLean, P., Johns, R., O'Leary, P., Robinson, J. and Plimmer, G., 2015. Managing Employee Performance & Reward: Concepts, Practices, Strategies. Cambridge University Press.

Stahl, G.K., Björkman, I. and Morris, S. eds., 2012. Handbook of research in international human resource management. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Wilcox, T., 2008. Searching for the Human in Human Resource Management: Theory, Practice and Workplace Contexts–Edited by Sharon C. Bolton and Maeve Houlihan. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 46(1), pp.203-205.

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