Armed forces vs Corporates - An HR dilemma

Posted in Human Resources Articles, Total Reads: 5078 , Published on 10 October 2010

Management has taken a lot of its learning’s from the army. The structure, strategies, reporting and many other things are very similar in both army and the corporate world. Even HR has borrowed a lot from the soldiers. Many a times, case studies in the business schools discuss HR Cases using Army examples. But is it right? Can army situations in the battlefield be same as corporate situations in secured cubicles?

What defines human resource management? Which person is best suited for role to command, control and get the best out of the available resources? Though the broad framework might be the same, but the tools, ethics, attitude of managing the resources are poles apart considering two fields i.e. Corporates and the army.

As taught by a few premier business schools through case studies, cases based of armed forces are not worthwhile studying in a protected classroom environment while trying to understand HRM, ethics and personality behavior. The simplest reason is that a soldier and a corporate executive can never face the same problems.

While a business professional faces hurdles of profit and loss, margins, growth strategies, competition, a soldier faces the adversities of rough weather, battle for survival on minimal food and most importantly, life and death.

Training for business professionals to understand the market scenario, develop strategies, find solutions to existing problems and compete is taught in business schools through the four streams, namely finance, marketing, HR and operations. Operations of the Indian armed forces on the other hand, has training for the soldiers which teaches them to be prepared for the hardships, hazards and dangers, and do things which might be morally incorrect in the normal world.  An employee being slapped by his superior is a physical abuse in the corporate world, which may generate a lot of hue and cry, but a similar situation in the forces is a part of learning to face and handle the tough situations, to make the combatant strong and sturdy.  Corporates depend a lot on the ability, qualification and past-reputation of individuals, but when in a battle, every soldier is equally important irrespective of rank, hierarchy or position. Thus, discussing catastrophes of army personnel sitting in classrooms, in terms of morals, ethics, which happened amongst gun-fires in extreme conditions, is not justified.

Despite the above differences, people have to achieve their targets and objectives irrespective of their field, which is same for both in terms of coordination, team work and unity in decision making. For success, until and unless all individuals channelize their knowledge, power and ability together in a single direction, the final result would always lackluster. Thus for any business entity to be successful, synchronization, cooperation is a must, which is similar to achieve a victory in the battle front. But as far as morals, ethics and human resource management are concerned, a battle field with numbers will always be different from a battle field with bullets.


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