J. David Spiceland LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY and
Hilary C. Zaunbrecher UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS
HUMAN RESOURCE ACCOUNTING: AN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
Recent years have witnessed the emergence of numerous trea-tises on the relative merits of human resource accounting. While the unprecedented pervasiveness of human resource literature sug-gests that the topic is new to our era, the debate itself is by no means novel. Indeed, the concept of human resource accounting is deeply rooted in the history of economic thought.
To provide a desirable perspective of the current debate and thus a basis for an accurate assessment of the probable impact of human resource accounting, a familiarity with the development of the con-cept is necessary. The intent of this article is to trace the historical evolution of human resource accounting to its present stage of de-velopment. Its purpose is to impart the perspective essential to a thorough understanding of the pros and cons of human resource accounting systems.
Human Capital In Early Economic Thought
Throughout history economists have been concerned with the concept of human capital, but their treatment was limited to includ-ing human beings and their skills in a definition of capital.
Several motives for treating human beings as capital and valuing them in monetary terms were expounded. Of these a central motive is apparent—to serve as a basis for making a decision or to influ-ence the decisions of others.
Meanwhile, a small group of relatively unknown economists un-dertook to develop techniques to measure the worth of human capi-tal. Basically, two methods of estimating the value of human beings emerged—(i) the cost-of-production and (ii) the capitalized earnings procedures.
In the cost-of-production approach costs incurred in "producing" a human asset are estimated. The capitalized earnings procedure