I see the differences between the two as described below.
In manufacturing, the contact with the customer/client/actual user is rather low in terms if visibility and interactions. This could make the HR and/or the management itself, less sensitive to the employee needs and quality and in general to the HR problems.
In service industry, the contact the customer usually has, is with the lowest functionary. It is for this reason the HR has to be more sensitive to the employees needs and quality and particular to the HR problems.
If in a factory there are "red flags" and demonstrations and an on going friction with employee organizations, the customers do not bother TILL their supplies are on schedule in terms of deliveries and quality, but if in a five star hotel, if the waiter is not corteous in service and in assisting the client/customer, there are immediate problems.
While it is true and essential that HR should ALWAYS be sensitive to employee needs as much as it must be sensitive to the markets/clients in delivering "service" through its employees and associates (and let there be no copmpromise on that!), the fact observed is that in manufacturing, for various reasons the emphasis is more on law, rights and duties, collective bargaining and negotiating, in service sector it is not so!
Therefore major differentiators between the HR of thse sectors are:
1) Level of education of employees,
2) Training to represent themselves in the company's desired profile,
3) Customer contact (this is also changing due to competition anyway!)
4) The nature of actually performed by the employees and their awareness to customer response.
No generalizations. There are differences. But the core is constant-HR must aim and attempt to "mould" employees in the vision and needs of the business WITHOUT ignoring the economic, social and psychological aspiration of employees. Not many of us have evolved/estimated a "profile" that we must help each employee to acquire for the good of the organization.
December 3, 2006
3rd December 2006 From India, Pune