Comparative Analysis of Strategic HRM Models: Guest (1997), Becker, Huselid, Pickus & Spratt (1997)

Strategic Human Resource Management (SHRM) is a dynamic field that has evolved to become a pivotal component in achieving organizational success. Two seminal models, crafted by David Guest in 1997 and a collaborative effort by Becker, Huselid, Pickus, and Spratt in the same year, have significantly influenced the way organizations approach the integration of human resources with strategic objectives. This comprehensive analysis seeks to elucidate the core concepts of each model, elucidating their theoretical foundations through real-world examples. Subsequently, a detailed comparative analysis will unravel the nuanced differences and similarities between these influential frameworks.

  1. Introduction:

Strategic Human Resource Management (SHRM) is characterized by the alignment of HR practices with organizational strategy, aiming to gain a sustainable competitive advantage. The Guest (1997) model and the Becker, Huselid, Pickus & Spratt (1997) model offer distinct perspectives on how HR can be strategically leveraged. This exploration aims to provide an in-depth understanding of each model, beginning with an elucidation of their key concepts illustrated by practical examples.

  1. Guest (1997) Model:

2.1 HRM Strategy:

Guest’s model starts with the premise that HRM strategy should align seamlessly with the overarching business strategy. For instance, consider a tech company adopting a business strategy focused on innovation. The HRM strategy in such a scenario would involve hiring individuals with creative and forward-thinking skills, implementing training programs that foster creativity, and designing reward systems that recognize and incentivize innovation.

2.2 HRM Practices:

The model identifies specific HR practices such as selection, training, appraisal, and reward systems as instrumental in achieving strategic alignment. To exemplify, in a customer-centric business, the HR practices may emphasize the selection of individuals with strong interpersonal skills, comprehensive customer service training, and reward systems linked to customer satisfaction metrics.

2.3 HR Outcomes:

Effective HR practices, according to Guest, lead to positive outcomes such as employee commitment, motivation, and competence. In the context of a manufacturing company, if HR practices are geared towards employee skill development and recognition, the outcome could be a highly competent and motivated workforce capable of achieving production targets efficiently.

2.4 Behavioral Outcomes:

Positive HR outcomes, Guest contends, result in desirable employee behaviors. In a context where HR practices focus on empowerment and autonomy, employees may exhibit behaviors such as adaptability, creativity, and a proactive approach to problem-solving.

2.5 Performance Outcomes:

The positive impact of HR practices, Guest argues, should ultimately manifest in improved organizational performance. In a retail setting, effective HR practices that enhance employee engagement and customer service skills can contribute to increased customer satisfaction, repeat business, and subsequently, improved financial performance.

2.6 Financial Outcomes:

Guest’s model concludes by asserting that the cumulative effect of positive HR practices should be reflected in improved financial performance for the organization. For example, a hospitality business that invests in HR practices promoting exceptional customer service may witness increased positive reviews, customer loyalty, and, consequently, improved financial results.

  1. Becker, Huselid, Pickus & Spratt (1997) Model:

3.1 HR Architecture:

Becker et al.’s model delves into the internal configuration of HR systems. Using a healthcare organization as an example, the HR architecture may involve designing work systems that prioritize patient care, structuring teams to maximize efficiency, and ensuring that employee roles are aligned with the organizational goal of delivering high-quality healthcare services.

3.2 Human Capital Pool:

This model emphasizes the strategic importance of developing a high-quality human capital pool. In the context of a research and development company, strategic recruitment practices may focus on attracting individuals with advanced degrees and specialized skills. Simultaneously, the organization invests in continuous learning and development programs to enhance the capabilities of its workforce.

3.3 HR Outcomes:

Similar to Guest’s model, Becker et al. underscore the significance of HR outcomes. In a financial services organization, HR outcomes may include a highly motivated and skilled workforce, fostering a culture of innovation and adaptability to navigate the complex and dynamic financial landscape.

  1. Comparative Analysis:

4.1 Alignment vs. Internal Configuration:

One of the primary distinctions between the two models lies in their emphasis. Guest’s model primarily underscores the alignment of HR practices with overall business strategy, focusing on the external fit. In contrast, Becker et al. add depth by emphasizing the internal configuration of HR systems, promoting an internal fit that aligns with the business strategy.

4.2 Behavioral Outcomes vs. Human Capital Pool:

While both models recognize the importance of positive HR outcomes, Guest’s model places a more explicit emphasis on the behavioral aspects of employees. Becker et al., however, pivot towards the concept of a high-quality human capital pool, emphasizing the strategic value of investing in employee skills and knowledge.

4.3 Specificity vs. Holistic Perspective:

Guest’s model provides a comprehensive yet high-level overview of the strategic HRM process. It offers a roadmap for aligning HR practices with strategic objectives. On the other hand, Becker et al. delve deeper into the intricate components of HR, offering a more detailed perspective on HR architecture and the development of a skilled human capital pool.

4.4 Practical Implications:

The practical implications of these models are noteworthy. Organizations aiming for strategic alignment may find Guest’s model more immediately applicable, guiding them in tailoring HR practices to external business strategies. Conversely, Becker et al.’s model provides a more nuanced approach, emphasizing the internal intricacies of HR and how they contribute to strategic success.

4.5 Comprehensive Approach:

Together, these models offer a holistic approach to SHRM. While Guest’s model provides a roadmap for alignment, Becker et al.’s model adds layers by emphasizing the internal intricacies of HR management. Combining both models allows organizations to strike a balance between external alignment and internal efficacy.

In conclusion, the Guest (1997) and Becker, Huselid, Pickus & Spratt (1997) models stand as seminal contributions to the field of Strategic HRM. The former focuses on aligning HR practices with business strategy, emphasizing behavioral outcomes, while the latter provides a more detailed view, emphasizing HR architecture and the development of a high-quality human capital pool. Organizations, by understanding the nuances of these models, can tailor their HR strategies to achieve a harmonious integration with overall business objectives, thereby ensuring sustained competitive advantage and organizational success.

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