Human Resource Management and Performance: Still Searching for Some Answers David E. Guest,

6993 Words Sep 29th, 2012 28 Pages
doi: 10.1111/j.1748-8583.2010.00164.x

Human resource management and performance: still searching for some answers
David E. Guest, King’s College, London
Human Resource Management Journal, Vol 21, no 1, 2011, pages 3–13

Over the past 20 years, there has been a considerable expansion in theory and research about human resource management and performance. This paper reviews progress by identifying a series of phases in the development of relevant theory and research. It then sets out a number of challenges for the future on issues of theory, management processes and research methodology. The main conclusion from the review is that after over two decades of extensive research, we are still unable to answer core questions about
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In the work of the Harvard group (Beer et al., 1984) and Schuler and Jackson (1987) we began to see an integration between a strategic view, that highlighted the importance of ‘external fit’ and organizational behaviour with its focus on ‘internal fit’ to produce a conceptual perspective or ‘map’ (Noon,
1992) that forms the basis of contemporary HRM. In the UK, this was contrasted with the pluralism of an industrial relations perspective to highlight a distinctively normative perspective on HRM (see, e.g. Guest, 1987 and Storey, 1992). In parallel with this, Foulkes
(1980) and Peters and Waterman (1982), among others, had provided glimpses of evidence about successful organisations that seemed to apply the ‘high commitment’ HRM principles.
This first phase, therefore presented the promise of HRM in the form of semi-prescriptive analytic frameworks alongside somewhat anecdotal cases that appeared to confirm this promise of an association between HRM and performance.
The second distinctive phase occurred in the 1990s when the first set of survey-based, statistically analysed studies of HRM and performance began to appear. The seminal paper was by Huselid (1995) but equally useful sector specific research was reported by Arthur (1994) and by Ichniowski et al. (1997) in steel mills, by MacDuffie (1995) in the auto industry and by Delery and Doty (1996) in banking. All indicated that the adoption of more HR practices was associated with higher

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