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Strategic Human Resource ManagementCorporate Rhetoric and Human Reality$
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Lynda Gratton, Veronica Hope Hailey, Philip Stiles, and Catherine Truss

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198782049

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198782049.001.0001

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Soft and Hard Models of Human Resource Management

Soft and Hard Models of Human Resource Management

Chapter:
(p.40) 2 Soft and Hard Models of Human Resource Management
Source:
Strategic Human Resource Management
Author(s):

Catherine Truss

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198782049.003.0002

Human resource management (HRM) has frequently been described as a concept with two distinct forms: soft and hard. The soft model emphasizes individuals and their self-direction and places commitment, trust, and self-regulated behaviour at the centre of any strategic approach to people. In contrast, the hard model stresses the rationalism of strategic fit and places emphasis on performance management and an instrumental approach to the management of individuals. This chapter first analyzes the conflicts and tensions both between and within the soft and hard models. It then reports on the findings of an in-depth empirical study which allow us to review and challenge the theoretical foundations upon which the soft and hard models are based. One conclusion of the study is that even if the rhetoric of HRM is ‘soft’, the reality is almost always ‘hard’, with the interests of the organization prevailing over those of the individual.

Keywords:   human resource management, soft model, hard model

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