Models of Human Resource Management
Models of Human Resource Management , The most familiar models defining what HRM is and how it operates are as follows.
The matching model of HRM
Fombrun et al (1984) proposed the ‘matching model’, which indicated that HR systems and the organization structure should be managed in a way that is congruent with organizational strategy. This point was made in their classic statement that: ‘The critical management task is to align the formal structure and human resource systems so that they drive the strategic objectives of the organization’ (ibid: 37). Thus they took the first steps towards the
concept of strategic HRM.
The Harvard model of HRM
Beer et al (1984) produced what has become known as the ‘Harvard framework’. They started with the proposition that: ‘Human resource management (HRM) involves all management decisions and actions that affect the nature of the relationship between the organization and employees – its human resources’
They believed that: ‘Today... many pressures are demanding a broader, more comprehensive and more strategic perspective with regard to the organization’s human resources’ (ibid: 4). They also stressed that it was necessary to adopt ‘a longer-term perspective in managing people and consideration of people as a potential asset rather than merely a variable cost’ (ibid: 6).
Beer and his colleagues were the first to underline the HRM tenet that it belongs to line managers. They suggested that HRM had two characteristic features: 1) line managers accept more responsibility for ensuring the alignment of competitive strategy and HR policies; 2) HR has the mission of setting policies that govern how HR activities are developed and implemented in ways that make them more mutually reinforcing.
Contextual model of HRM
The contextual model of HRM emphasizes the importance of environmental factors by including variables such as the influence of social, institutional and political forces that have been underestimated in other models. The latter, at best, consider the context as a contingency variable.
The contextual approach is broader, integrating the human resource management system in the environment in which it is developed. According to Martin-Alcázar et al (2005: 638): ‘Context both conditions and is conditioned by the HRM strategy.’
A broader set of stakeholders is involved in the formulation and implementation of human resource strategies that is referred to by Sculler and Jackson (2000: 229) as a ‘multiple stakeholder framework’. These stakeholders may be external as well as internal and both influence and are influenced by strategic decisions.
The 5-P model of HRM
As formulated by Schuler (1992) the 5-P model of HRM describes how HRM operates under the five headings of:
1 HR philosophy – a statement of how the organization regards its human resources, the role they play in the overall success of the business, and how they should be treated and managed.
2 HR policies – these provide guidelines for action on people-related business issues and for the development of HR programmes and practices based on strategic needs.
3 HR programmes – these are shaped by HR policies and consist of coordinated HR efforts intended to initiate and manage organizational change efforts prompted by strategic business needs.
4 HR practices – these are the activities carried out in implementing HR policies and programmes. They include resourcing, learning and development, performance and reward management, employee relations and administration.
5 HR processes – these are the formal procedures and methods used to put HR strategic plans and policies into effect.
European model of HRM
Brewster (1993) described a European model of HRM as follows:
●● environment – established legal framework;
●● objectives – organizational objectives and social concern – people as a key resource;
●● focus – cost/benefits analysis, also environment;
●● relationship with employees – union and non-union;
●● relationship with line managers – specialist/ line liaison;
●● role of HR specialist – specialist managers – ambiguity, tolerance, flexibility.
The main distinction between this model and what Brewster referred to as ‘the prescribed model’ was that the latter involves deregulation (no legal framework), no trade unions and a focus on organizational objectives but not on social concern.
As set out by Mabey et al (1998: 107) the characteristics of the European model are:
●● dialogue between social partners;
●● emphasis on social responsibility;
●● multicultural organizations;
●● participation in decision-making;
●● continuous learning.
The hard and soft HRM models
Storey (1989: 8) distinguished between the ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ versions of HRM. He wrote that: ‘The hard one emphasises the quantitative, calculative and business-strategic aspects of managing human resources in as “rational” a way as for any other economic factor. By contrast, the soft version traces its roots to the human-relations school; it emphasizes communication, motivation and leadership.’
However, it was pointed out by Keenoy (1997: 838) that ‘hard and soft HRM are complementary rather than mutually exclusive practices’. Research in eight UK organizations by Truss et al (1997) indicated that the distinction between hard and soft HRM was not as precise as some commentators have implied. Their conclusions were as follows.