The Value of HRM?! Optimising the Architecture of HRM

Karin Sanders, Jan Kees Looise
2006 Management Revue  
Since the first appearance of the concept of Human Resource Management at the beginning of the 1980s, it has gradually become the dominant view on the management of employment relationships, not only in theory but also in practice. However, recently, both academics and practitioners have started to pose questions such as: "What's the value of HRM?", "What are the effects of HRM in terms of employee and organisational outcomes?" and "What are the differences between the value of HRM for
more » ... of HRM for academics and practitioners?". In examining the ways in which HRM influences organizational effectiveness, one of the primary interests concerns models and studies explaining the link between HRM and significant variations in (business) performance (Boxall/Purcell 2003) . Different theoretical views are used to explore the so-called HRMperformance link, like the contingency or 'best fit' school which covers a range of models that advocate fitting HR strategy to its surrounding context (Miles/Snow 1984; Schuler/Jackson 1987), the 'best practice approach' which can be seen as a reaction on failures to find empirical evidence for the 'best fit' approach and by stressing the universal importance of a number of HRM-practices (Pfeffer 1994 (Pfeffer , 1998 and the resource-based approach to HRM which articulates the competitive advantages of an appropriate and inimitable HRM system (Barney 1991; Penrose 1959) . By now most researchers agree on the rejection of the main assumption in these views that HRM practices and systems do directly lead to firm performance. Rather they influence firm resources, such as the human capital of the firm, or employee attitudes and behaviors. It is these employee attributes that ultimately lead to performance (Delery 1998). The intermediate linkages and processes, through which HRM systems affect organizational effectiveness, have challenged researchers to define and examine their rationales that open 'the black box' between HRM systems and performance. Besides the HRM-performance linkage, the process of HRM is discussed nowadays. In this the features of an HRM system that send signals to employees that allow them to understand the desired and appropriate responses and form a
doi:10.5771/0935-9915-2006-3-219 fatcat:vhpfjyeoi5benlhiw4izsq4lcu