“in the same light as a machine”

In his 1893 book The Distribution of Wealth economist John R. Commons used the term human resource. The term was then used in the 1910s and 1920s. Workers were seen as a type of capital asset. E.W. Bakke revived “human resources” in its modern form was in 1958. Adam Smith defined human capital as follows:

“The acquisition of such talents, by the maintenance of the acquirer during his education, study, or apprenticeship, always costs a real expense, which is a capital fixed and realized, as it were, in his person. The improved dexterity of a workman may be considered in the same light as a machine or instrument of trade which facilitates and abridges labor, and which, though it costs a certain expense, repays that expense with a profit.”

“… in the same light as a machine.”