Soft and hard models of human resource management: a reappraisal

Truss, Catherine, Gratton, Lynda, Hope-Hailey, Veronica, McGovern, Patrick and Stiles, Philip (1997) Soft and hard models of human resource management: a reappraisal. Journal of Management Studies, 34 (1). pp. 53-73. ISSN 0022-2380

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Abstract

Two of the most widely adopted models of human resource management are the hard and soft versions. These are based on opposing views of human nature and managerial control strategies. The hard model is based on notions of tight strategic control, and an economic model of man according to Theory X, while the soft model is based on control through commitment and Theory Y. We argue that because these assumptions are so divergent, they cannot both properly be incorporated within a single model of human resource management. Eight in-depth case studies were carried out, involving questionnaires, interviews and focus groups in order to find out whether organizations were practising either form of HRM. We found that no pure examples of either form existed. The paper concludes that the rhetoric adopted by Ae companies frequendy embraces the tenets of the soft, commitment model, while the reaUty experienced by employees is more concerned with strategic control, similar to the hard model. This distinction between rhetoric and reality needs to be taken into account in conceptualizations of human resource management.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > Business and Management
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Depositing User: Joy Blake
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2010 13:37
Last Modified: 01 Apr 2014 12:11
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/47989
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