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During the middle of the last century, larger corporations, typically those in the United States that emerged after the Second World War, recruited personnel from the US Military and were able to apply new selection, training, leadership, and management development techniques, originally developed by the Armed Services, working with, for example, university-based occupational psychologists. Similarly, some leading European multinationals, such as Shelland Phillipsdeveloped new approaches to personnel development and drew on similar approaches already used in Civil Servicetraining. Gradually, this spread more sophisticated policies and processes that required more central management via a personnel department composed of specialists and generalist teams. 

The role of what became known as Human Resources grew throughout the middle of the 20th century. Tensions remained between academics who emphasized either 'soft' or 'hard' HR. Those professing so-called 'soft HR' stressed areas like leadership , cohesion, and loyalty that play important roles in organizational success. Those promoting 'hard HR' championed more quantitatively rigorous management techniques in the 1960s. 

In the later part of the last century, both the title and traditional role of the personnel function was progressively superseded by the emergence, at least in larger organizations, of strategic human resources management and sophisticated human resources departments. Initially, this may have involved little more than renaming the function, but where transformation occurred, it became distinguished by the human resources having a more significant influence on the organizations strategic direction and gaining board-level representation. 

Human resources purpose and role 

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