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HRM Matching Model and Influential Models

We will now look at how these differing approaches can be realised within organisations. The matching model is considered an example of hard HRM, while the influential model is viewed as an example of soft HRM.
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0

We will now look at how these differing approaches can be realised within organisations.

Soft HRM and Hard HRM

The matching model is considered an example of hard HRM, while the influential model is viewed as an example of soft HRM.

Matching Model

Diagram showing the matching model, which describes a business as having a mission and strategy that affects both the organisational structure and human resource management. All of these are also affected by external factors such as cultural, political and economic factors.

The matching model was developed by Formbrun et al. (1984) at Michigan Business school. It’s described as the hard approach to HRM as it holds a less humanistic view.

The model introduced the concept of strategic HRM linked to the formation and implementation of strategic corporate and business objectives (Devanna et al., 1984. p. 34). The model stated that the HR system and the organisation structure should be managed in a way that is congruent with the organisational strategy.

The model is used to facilitate the achievement of the objectives of the organisation in terms of efficiency in productivity and profits. However, the model has less focus on the employees’ welfare, training and development. Employees are perceived as a resource that enables the business to meet its commercial targets and business strategy.

The emphasis of this model is placed on how an organisation can best use its resources to respond to the external environment. There are two assumptions underpin this model:

  • The most effective means of managing people will vary from organisation to organisation and is a development of the organisational context.
  • Universalism, meaning conflict should not exist in the workplace and that employers and employees should work together to achieve the same goal. This model has formed the basis for the ‘best fit’ school of HRM (Beardwell & Thompson, 2017).

The company that holds this point of view develops employees to support overall business objectives and goals.

Influential Model

In the figure of the influential model, we can see how different situational factors such as workforce characteristics, business strategy, management philosophy, labour markets, unions, technology, and laws and values all affect both stakeholder interests and HRM policy choices. Those different stakeholders, including shareholders, management, employee groups, government, communities and unions, then also affect HRM policy choices. Those HRM polices include employee influences, human resource flow, and work and reward systems. These decisions then affect outcomes for the organisation such as commitment, competence, congruence and cost-effectiveness. Finally these outcomes have long-term consequences on individual well-being, organisational effectiveness and societal well-being, which all have an impact on both the situational factors of the organisation and the stakeholder interests.

The influential model, demonstrated above, was postulated by Beer et al. (1984) at Harvard University. The map of the HRM territory described in the model is associated with soft HRM, as its primary focus is on outcomes for people, their well-being and organisational commitment.

The model defines the link between internal and external factors affecting HRM. The external factors outlined by the model include stakeholders’ interest and situational factors. The model recognises that there are a variety of stakeholders and assumes that the creation of HRM strategies will have to reflect the legitimate interests of different groups:

  • Shareholders have a financial interest and want assurance that business will grow.
  • Management want to ensure all the objectives goals are met. For example, the company makes a profit, expands its market and boosts sales.
  • Employees are also stakeholders in the organisation and have their own interests. For example, they seek job security, better working condition and good work–life balance.

In the figure, situation factors refer to the context in which the business operates. The factors include inflation rates, the rate of interest, globalisation, unemployment rate, workforce characteristics, union representation, laws and technology requirements.

These external factors are directly linked with internal choices such as HRM policy, which needs to accommodate the external factors. In this model, it is a focus on developing policies that take into account such factors that lead to improved HR outcomes such as a high-commitment and high-performance workforce.

There are two characteristic features:

  • Line mangers accept more responsibility for ensuring the alignment of competitive strategy and personal policy.
  • Human Resources has the responsibility of setting policies that govern how personnel activities are developed and implemented in ways that make them more mutually reinforcing.

The influential model acknowledges mutuality in all business and focuses on a managers’ methods for managing employees. Managers look for methods that will enable them to use employees effectively within the business while at the same time generating working practices and ways of deploying personnel that suit people and allows their abilities to be recognised and their contribution rewarded.

The model focuses on gaining employees’ commitment, loyalty and their co-operation. Employees are encouraged through incentive schemes and through motivational methods to complete their tasks and to enable the organisation to grow and flourish.

Compared with the matching model, the influential model focuses on gaining employee commitment and co-operation to get win-win situation. While the first focuses on business strategies and goal achievements, the second believes that employees are the important assets for the organisation and therefore developing and motivating employees and improving employees’ loyalty is key for the business.

Your task

Examine the advantages and disadvantages of both models. Consider which HRM model is more appropriate when managing the issues of the global recession.


Beardwell, J., & Thompson, A. (2017). Human resource management: A contemporary approach (8th ed.). Pearson.

Beer, M., Spector, B., Lawrence, P. R., Mills, D. Q., & Walton, R. E. (1984). Managing human assets: The groundbreaking Harvard Business School program. Macmillan.

Devanna, M. A., Fombrun, C. J., & Tichy, N. M. (1984). A framework for strategic human resource management. In Strategic Human Resource Management (pp. 33–56). John Wiley and Sons.

© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0
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