Introduction

This book arises from an initial observation: quantification has gradually invaded all modern Western societies, and organizations and companies are not exempt from this trend. As a result, the human resources (HR) function is increasingly using quantification tools. However, quantification raises specific questions when it concerns human beings. Consequently, HR quantification gives rise to a variety of approaches, in particular: an approach that values the use of quantification as a guarantee of objectivity, of scientific rigor and, ultimately, of the improvement of the HR function; and a more critical approach that highlights the social foundations of the practice of quantification and thus challenges the myth of totally neutral or objective quantification. These two main approaches make it possible to clarify the aim of this book, which seeks to take advantage of their respective contributions to maintain a broad vision of the challenges of HR quantification.

I.1. The omnipresence of quantification in Western societies

In The Measure of Reality, Crosby (1998) describes the turning point in Medieval and Renaissance Europe that led to the supremacy of quantitative over qualitative thinking. Crosby gives several examples illustrating how widespread this phenomenon was in various fields: the invention and diffusion of the mechanical clock, double-entry accounting and perspective painting, for example. Even music could not escape this movement of “metrologization” ...

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