The hrm models

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The HRM Models

  • There are a good number of models that have been postulated by various scholars to describe the HRM concept.

  • However, as shall be seen these various models either fall under the soft or the hard approach of HRM.

The Harvard Model

  • The Harvard Model was postulated by Beer et al (1984) at Harvard University.

  • The authors of the model also coined it the map of HRM territory.

  • The Harvard model acknowledges the existence of multiple stakeholders within the organization.

  • These multiple stakeholders include shareholders various groups of employees, government and the community at large.

  • The recognition of the legitimacy of these multiple stakeholders renders this model a neo - pluralist model.

  • This model emphasizes more on the human/soft side of HRM.

  • Basically this is because this model emphasizes more on the fact that employees like any other shareholder are equally important in influencing organizational outcomes.

  • In fact the interest of the various groups must be fused and factored in the creation of HRM strategies and ultimately the creation of business strategies.

Stakeholder Interests

HR Strategy

i) Employee influence

ii) Human Resources flows

iii) Reward system

iv) Work systems

HR Outcomes

i) Commitment

ii) Congruence

iii) Competence

iv) Costs

Long-term consequences

i) Organizational effectiveness

ii) Individual well-being

iii) Societal well-being

Situational Interests

i) Workforce type

ii) Business strategy

iii) Management philosophy

iv) Labour market

v) Task technology

vi) Societal values

Source : Beer et al (1984 : 16)

  • A critical analysis of the model shows that it is deeply rooted in the human relations tradition.

  • Employee influence is recognised through people motivation and the development of an organization culture based on mutual trust and team work.

  • The factors above must be factored into the HR strategy which is premised on employee influences, HR flows, reward system etc.

  • The outcomes from such a set up are soft in nature as they include high congruence, commitment, competencies etc.

  • The achievement of the crucial HR outcomes has got an impact on long term consequences, increased productivity, organizational effectiveness which will in turn influence shareholder interests and situational factors hence making it a cycle.

  • It is thus important to note that the Harvard model is premised on the belief that it is the organization’s human resources that give competitive advantage through treating them as assets and not costs.

The Michigan/Matching Model

  • The Michigan model was propounded by Fombrun Tichy and Devanna (1984) at the Michigan Business School.

  • They also named this model a matching model of HRM.

  • Precisely, the matching aspect of this model demonstrates that the model is inclined towards the harder side of HRM.

  • This is because the matching model emphaizes more on “tight fit” between the HR strategy and the buisness strategy.

  • NB It demands that available human resources must be matched with jobs in the organization.

  • The HR strategy must be highly calculative in terms of the quantity of the human resources required to achieve the objectives enshrined in the business strategy.

  • Business strategy takes the central stage in this model hence human resources are taken like any other resource which must be fully utilised together with the other resoruces to achieve organizational objectives.

  • (Evans and Lorange, 1989) argue that the Michigan model is based on the “product market logic” which demands that to gain high profits labour must be obtained cheaply, used sparingly, developed and exploited fully.

The Matching Model of HRM

Devanna (1984)

  • The point of departure in the Michigan Model is the pre-eminence and pre-dominance of a business strategy, which must strictly be achieved by the available resources regardless of whether, they are able to do so or not.

  • In fact the business strategy must be achieved through minimum labour costs enhanced by structural re-organization, Performance Related Pay and staff reduction.

The Guest Model

The Guest model was propounded by David Guest in 1987.

  • This model is a fusion of aspects that resemble both a hard and a soft approach of HRM.

  • Guest proposes 4 crucial components that underpin organizational effectiveness.

  • These 4 crucial components are: -

1. Strategic Integration

  • This is the ability of organizations to maintain a fit between the HRM strategy and the business strategy. In other words, there must be congruence between business strategy and the HR strategy for the organization to achieve its goals.

  • Strategic integration shows the harder side of the Guest Model.

  • This is precisely because human resources are treated in a similar manner like any other resource with the prime goal of achieving business objectives.

  • Thus there are implications of labour exploitation.

  1. Flexibility

  • Flexibility is basically concerned with the ability of the organization and its people to adapt to the changing business and work environment and to the capacity to manage innovation.

  • Flexibility can be numeric, functional, pay, distancing.

  • Flexibility carries both connotations of hard and soft HRM.

  • Hard HRM for example can be seen through numeric flexibility where employees are employed only when their production is required and when their labour is not required they are discharged.

  • This can be exemplified through seasoned work.

  • Flexibility can also show the soft side of HRM through the same example given above.

  • Flexibility in this case is not only concerned with the need to achieve business objectives but also the need to treat its employees as fairly as possible.

  1. High Commitment

  • This is concerned with the need to have both behavioural commitment, which is the ability to go an extra mile, and attitudinal commitment, which is reflected through a strong identification with the organization.

  1. Quality

Quality is based on the assumption that provision of high quality goods and services results from a quality way of managing people.

Organizational Effectiveness

Strategic Integration

High Commitment




Using David Guest (1987)’s Model and John Storey (1989)’s model of HRM: Critically demonstrate your understanding of Hard and Soft HRM.

Model by John Sorey (1989)

John Storey emerged to be one of the strongest proponents of HRM as a completely different discipline from the preceding disciplines embraced by the TPM approach.

  • He believed that HRM is a holistic approach with a set of interrelated policies with an ideological and philosophical underpinning.

  • Because of these ideological and philosophical aspects, HRM does not only stand distinctively outstanding from TPM but also emerges to be a much more humane approach to employment management.

  • The model by John Storey is based on four aspects.

  1. Beliefs and Assumptions

  • The model is premised on the notion that HRM is based on a set of beliefs and assumptions, which makes it a distinctive approach.

  • Fundamentally it is believed that it is the human resource among all the other factors of production, which gives the difference.

  • Successful organizations are distinguished from the rest by the capabilities and commitment of the people who work for them.

  • It is therefore imperative that the human resource ought to be treated with great care and nurtured as valuable assets.

  • Finally it is believed that the employment relationship is based on commitment and not compliance.

  1. Strategic Qualities

HRM is further distinguished by the fact that it is strategic in nature and therefore requires the attention of senior management and top executives.

  • The above-mentioned assumption stems from the 1st belief that the human resource is the most important source of competitive advantage.

  • HR Policies are too important to be a product of prescribed best professional practice only. In fact they must be sensitive to the demands of the competitive business environment, business strategy and the HR strategy.

  1. Role of Line Managers

  • Line managers have a very important role to play in people management.

  • It is clear from the HRM philosophy that people management is too important to be left to operational personnel specialists.

  • Fundamentally, the importance of line managers is seen through the strong link that exists between them and their respective subordinates or employees.

  1. Key Levers

  1. There is a strong belief that culture management is important than managing

Procedures and systems.

  • This is primarily important because culture management brings consensus on overall organizational values, beliefs and assumptions.

  • Culture management is also believed to be essential in flexibility and commitment.

    1. Integrated action on all HRM policies

    2. Restructuring and job redesign to allow developed responsibility and empowerment.

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