Based on Human Resource Management, 4th edition, by Alan Price
The Harvard map of HRM
A large part of this section in Human Resource Management, 4th edition is devoted to the Harvard 'map' of HRM. This is
probably the most seminal model of HRM and has had a major influence on academic debate on the
'We noted that the Harvard Business School generated one of the most influential models
of HRM. The Harvard interpretation sees employees as resources. However, they are
viewed as being fundamentally different from other resources - they cannot be managed
in the same way. The stress is on people as human resources. The Harvard approach recognizes
an element of mutuality in all businesses, a concept with parallels in Japanese
people management, as we observed earlier. Employees are significant stakeholders in an
organization. They have their own needs and concerns along with other groups such as
shareholders and customers.'
The Harvard Map or model outlines four HR policy areas:
- Human resource flows - recruitment, selection, placement, promotion, appraisal
and assessment, promtion, termination, etc.
- Reward systems - pay systems, motivation, etc.
- Employee influence - delegated levels of authority, responsibility, power
- Work systems - definition/design of work and alignment of people.
Which in turn lead to the 'four C's' or HR policies that have to be achieved:
- Cost effectiveness
In more detail:
Beer et al (Managing Human Assets
by Michael Beer, Richard E. Walton, Bert A. Spector, 1984) argue that when general managers determine the appropriate human resource
policies and practices for their organizations, they require some method of assessing the
appropriateness or effectiveness of those policies. Beer et al devised the famous
Harvard Map (sometimes referred to as the Harvard model) of HRM.
This map is based on an analytical approach and provides a broad causal depiction
of the 'determinants and consequences of HRM policies.' It shows human resource policies
to be influenced by two significant considerations:
- Situational factors in the outside business environment or within the firm such as
laws and societal values, labor market conditions, unions, work-force characteristics,
business strategies, management philosophy, and task technology. According to Beer et al
these factors may constrain the formation of HRM policies but (to varying degrees) they may also
be influenced by human resource policies.
- Stakeholder interests, including those of shareholders, management
employees, unions, community, and government. Beer et al argue that human resource
policies SHOULD be influenced by ALL stakeholders. If not, 'the enterprise will fail to meet the needs
of these stakeholders in the long run and it will fail as an institution.'
The authors also contend that human resource policies have both immediate organizational
outcomes and long-term consequences. Managers can affect a number of factors by means of the
policy choices they make, including:
- the overall competence of employees,
- the commitment of employees,
- the degree of congruence between employees' own goals and those of the organization, and
- the overall cost effectiveness of HRM practices.
Beer et al state that these 'four Cs' do not represent all the criteria that human resource
policy makers can use to evaluate the effectiveness of human resource management, but consider
them to be 'reasonably comprehensive' although they suggest that readers may add additional
factors depending on circumstances. And various authors have done so.
Beer et al argue that: "In the long run, striving to enhance all four Cs will lead to favorable consequences for
individual well-being, societal well-being, and organizational effectiveness (i.e., long-term
consequences). By organizational effectiveness we mean the capacity
of the organization to be responsive and adaptive to its environment. We are suggesting, then,
that human resource management has much broader consequences than simply last quarter's profits
or last year's return on equity. Indeed, such short-term measures are relatively unaffected by
HRM policies. Thus HRM policy formulation must incorporate this long-term perspective."
et al themselves did not consider that the four 'Cs' represented all necessary
criteria. Why not? What else could be considered?
HRM policies and their consequences
Beer et al (1984) proposed that long-term consequences (both
benefits and costs of human resource policies should be evaluated at three levels:
individual, organizational and societal. These in turn should be analyzed using the four Cs.
Point to consider
* Although central to the
Harvard Map, 'stakeholder theory' has a much wider scope than HRM and has largely been
developed outside the HR literature. At first sight, it is a simple notion - those parties
or groups that have an interest in the firm. But more critical attention reveals a concept
that is not easy to define and that is also exposed to a number of political, ethical and
other agendas. How would right- and left-wing politicians regard stakeholders? Similarly,
senior managers and trade unionists, etc.
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