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Q: regarding to Best practice and Best fit in Human Resource Management (HRM) ( Answered,   1 Comment )
Subject: regarding to Best practice and Best fit in Human Resource Management (HRM)
Category: Business and Money > Employment
Asked by: cora23-ga
List Price: $80.00
Posted: 26 Oct 2003 12:08 PST
Expires: 25 Nov 2003 12:08 PST
Question ID: 269858
Hi researchers, i am looking for Both "Real life" examples and
"theroical" model that examine what firms actually do to be a better
firm. the approach of this problem please critically distinct between
industrial studies research (descriptive research) and models
(prescriptive theory )that will assess the topic of "best fit" and
"best practice" in regards to strategic human resource management.

please reply before tuesday and i will promise extra tips of $20!
please also provide full references, and the whole answer should be
around 3000 words

Request for Question Clarification by czh-ga on 26 Oct 2003 23:38 PST
Hello cora23-ga

I’m ready to get this research done for you before Tuesday but I need
clarification of several of the terms you’ve used. I also need to know
the format of what you require.

You say the “whole answer should be around 3000 words.” Are you
expecting the Researcher to write a 3000 word essay for you?
Alternatively, are you looking for sufficient resources and content so
that you can write a 3000 word essay? I'd be happy to gather resources
and supporting materials so that you can write your essay.

I’m familiar with organizational development and human resources
theories and practices. Please clarify the elements of your question.

As I understand it, you’re looking to compare two theories
(descriptive and prescriptive) to determine how each will be useful or
suitable for strategic human resources management in terms of “best
fit” and “best practices.” Which specific theories are you planning to

Also, strategic HRM is a very broad topic. What aspect of HR are you
examining in relation to studying the two theoretical approaches? I
need to understand this before I can suggest criteria for evaluating
what is best in terms of “fit” or “practices.”

You say you want to explore and compare two theoretical approaches.
The first is “industrial studies research” or “descriptive research.
The second is “prescriptive theory.”

My interpretation is that a descriptive theory seeks to state or
describe what a person or group is doing or how a system is behaving.
It answers the question “How is the organization behaving?”

On the other hand, a prescriptive theory gives guidance or states what
a person, group or system should be doing. It answers the question
“How should the organization behave?”

With the above basic understanding of descriptive and prescriptive
research you want “real life” examples and “theoretical models” of
what firms / companies / organizations ARE doing and SHOULD be doing
to advance their strategic human resources goals.

Please confirm that I’ve understood the gist of your question. If not,
please correct whatever I’ve missed.

Please clarify all the points I’ve raised and I will be happy to
answer your question. I look forward to hearing from you.

~ czh ~

Clarification of Question by cora23-ga on 27 Oct 2003 08:52 PST
Hey Hello czh ! Thanks for your interest in my question!

You are right! i actually need to gather info for a essay, i need
source and info to answer the question, since time is limited..
therefore is there possible when you listing the finding, thanks in

Yes, i do need supporting evidence of (descriptive research and
prescriptive theories) of firms to determine how each will be useful
orsuitable for strategic human resources management in terms of “best
fit” and “best practices.” The theories of "best fit" i'm looking for
comes from two models: 'external fit' (vertical fit) and 'internal
fit' (horizontal fit).

Sorry, i'm looking for "descriptive research" instate of theory, it
would be research of firm, example case studies and high lighting
surveys or appraisal of firms to support theories of "best fit" and
"best practices". And prescriptive research of what u have mentioned.

At this stage, this is my understanding/ juice of my own essay…

External fit as firm's competitive strategy, defined as three main
types of strategic behaviours: "Defenders", "Prospectors" and
"Analysers" (I had explained clearly in my own essay already) any more
comments are welcome thanks. Firms need to make choices between
achieving cost leadership (lowering unit cost), differentiation (based
on quality or service), or focus in cost or differentiation.

Internal fit, HR policies support each other and do not contradict.
Three desirable types of consistency: complementary (single employee
consistency), among employee consistency, and temporal consistency,
(extend abit after each of the consistency) if this is what you know..
can you add some info or example into your reply?

Best practice: looking at universalism, looking at Jeffery Pfeffer's
(1994) list of 16 practices for 'competitive advantage through
people'. Performance is a function of ability (enhancing abilities or
knowledge and skills), motivation and opportunity. Examples of the 16
practices: 1. employment security, 2. selectivity in recruiting, 3.
high wages, 4. Incentive pay, 5. employee ownership, 6. information
sharing …..

Hope you can link your sources to my theories and assess me, any
clarification is welcome. but please allow me to have some time to
edit my own essay if possible as my essay is due on tue.. thanks you!!
Cora23 indicate

Request for Question Clarification by czh-ga on 27 Oct 2003 08:58 PST
Hello again cora23-ga,

Thank you for the clarification. You added a lot of new information.
There is so much here that I'm leaving the question open in case
someone else is ready to answer it because of your tight deadline. I
have some other projects I must finish this morning.

Best wishes.

~ czh ~

Clarification of Question by cora23-ga on 27 Oct 2003 23:12 PST
Hi czh,

Hi, i've been just given an extension for my essay to firday, if you
are interested you can still have a try of it.



Clarification of Question by cora23-ga on 28 Oct 2003 22:30 PST
Hi czh,

i'm sorry i give you the wrong idea of the question, i've just spoken
to my tutor and she thinks that i went in too much in depth. I will
give u the question, i think i started off in the wrong track.

"In assessing the evidence about the merits of 'best fit' and best
practice' it is vital to remember the distinction between studies that
examine what firms actuclly do (descriptive research) and models of
how firms can do it better (normative or prescriptive theory)"

Using both descriptive and prescriptive research as your evidence,
assess the merits of "best fit" and "best practice" theories of
strategic human resource management.

From the pervious attempt, i went in too much in depth of both best
fit and best practice. What i need is just MERITS of both best fit and
best practice (generally) with evidence of desriptive and prescriptive
research. Do you think that you can assess me with the evidence. Thank


Request for Question Clarification by czh-ga on 29 Oct 2003 11:37 PST
Hello again cora23-ga,

Thank you for the additional information about your project. I’d be
happy to help you since your deadline has been extended to Friday.
Your topic is rather nebulous so I’d like you to clarify further. I’ve
found an article that seems to discuss the same points you want to
Strategic Human Resource Management: Where Have We Come From and Where
We Should Be Going.

This article highlights the difficulties of defining what is meant by
“strategic HR management,” “best fit” and “best practice. In order to
help me focus on what research you need, please answer the following

1) What do you mean by “strategic HR”? HR is responsible for a long
list of functions. How do you want to group them for your question?
Which ones do you consider “strategic”? Which one(s) do you want to
use for your project?
HR Functions (Alphabetic)
Employee relations
Employee services
Health and safety
Labor relations
Leaves of absence
Payroll administration
Performance appraisal
Separations and terminations
Training and development
Wages and benefits

2) Please clarify what you mean by “best fit.” Are you using a
particular theorist’s definitions? Do you have some references that
will help me understand your perspective? Any examples you can share
will help me get in synch with you.

3) Please clarify what you mean by “best practices.” Again, please
give me any references that you’re using for your focus and tell me
which theorists or authorities you’re interested in. There is a
tremendous amount of material on this subject and I need you to
clarify how to narrow down the subject.

Please take a look at two similar questions relating to organizational
behavior that I answered recently. I propose to conduct similar
research for your question. This means that I will be happy to collect
lots of research and resources for you – sufficient for you to write a
3000 word essay – but I will not write the essay myself.
Q: Human Resources Management
Q: Organizational Behavior

Please let me know how you want to proceed. I look forward to your

~ czh ~
Subject: Re: regarding to Best practice and Best fit in Human Resource Management (HRM)
Answered By: czh-ga on 30 Oct 2003 04:01 PST
Hello again cora23-ga,

Instead of waiting for your clarification I decided to move forward
with doing the research for your question so that you can meet your
Friday deadline for your paper. The information you gave in your last
clarification gave me enough to get started and I’ve found lots of
resources to help you with writing your paper.

As I said in my last clarification, I found an article that seems to
address ALL of the ideas that you indicated should be included in your
Strategic Human Resource Management: Where Have We Come From and Where
We Should Be Going.

This 21-page scholarly paper discusses Strategic Human Resource
Management (SHRM). He defines Human Resource Management (HRM) as
“anything and everything associated with the management of employment
relations in the firm.” The concept of strategic HRM is concerned with
the “the ways in which HRM is critical to organizational

Considering the “best fit” vs. “best practice” question led through a
lot of complex discussions by various authors but I finally found one
that reduced these two theories of how to approach HR in order to
achieve the best results for the organization. Professor Paul Teague
of Queen’s University, Belfast distills these two theories as follows:

“Best Fit argument -- business performance will be improved only when
the ‘right fit’ between business strategy and HR practices is

“Best Practice argument  -- one set of HR practices can be identified
which when implemented improves business performance.”

I’ve collected a variety of articles, papers and other resources that
discuss and illustrate these principles. As you requested, I included
“real life” examples whenever possible. The comparison of these two
models is a popular topic in human resources and organization
development classes and I found many syllabi and textbooks that
discuss them. I included some links that require a subscription or
registration because I thought you might have access through your
university library.

The papers and references I’ve collected show that there has been
extensive research on these topics but much of it has not been
thorough or conclusive and there are many calls for better and more
up-to-date research. I’ve also included many papers that have
extensive bibliographies so that you can continue your research if
anything looks particularly interesting to you.

You have a complex topic to address for your paper. I trust that the
resources I’ve found will give you what you need to do a great job on

Wishing you well in all your studies.

~ czh ~

Do you help shape your company’s strategic direction?

Development 1st is a Strategic HR consultancy. We work exclusively
with Leaders of Human Resources as they identify and address their
issues and challenges. Our sole purpose is to provide the inspiration
that enables Human Resource Management to generate and exercise
appropriate power to underpin business success.

Development 1st has examined the accumulated research and best
practice in this area and we have now mapped out a strategic
development framework leading to HR operating as a full business

***** This article presents an excellent diagram showing two stages of
HR activities. Stage I activities are transactional and include most
of the functional activities that are normally described as HR
responsibilities. Stage II activities are strategic and demonstrate
how HR adds business value to the enterprise.

Strategic Human Resource Management: Where Have We Come From and Where
We Should Be Going.

Strategic Human Resource Management (SHRM) implies a concern with the
ways in which HRM is critical to organizational effectiveness. This
straightforward assertion is examined in theory and through research
evidence to reveal high levels of complexity in relation to how, when
and why the interconnection between HRM and organizational outcomes is
achieved. The two dominant normative models for “best fit” and “best
practice” are considered.

***** This article provides an excellent discussion of the basic
concepts of strategic human resource management and how thinking and
research has evolved around the issues of “best fit” and “best
practice.” The article also urges that further research needs to be
developed around theories of “the resource-based view (RBV) of the
firm.” The author argues that the management of knowledge and
development of human capital is essential for the strategic management
of human resources. NOTE: This article includes an outstanding

Division of Management & Information Systems, School of Management and
Economics, Queen's University, Belfast
Professor Paul Teague
Lecture Notes for Human Resource Management
The Resource-based View of the Firm

***** This is a set of slides that summarizes the previous article and
captures the essence of the concepts it covers.

Strategic Human Resource Management (SHRM)
Matching SHRM Theory of the Firm -Best Fit argument 
***** See slides 13 –16
SHRM and the Theory of the Firm – Best Fit and Best Practice arguments
***** See slides 5 -9

Best Fit argument -- business performance will be improved only when
the ‘right fit’ between business strategy and HR practices is

Best Practice argument  -- one set of HR practices can be identified
which when implemented improves business performance

Online companion to: Human Resource Management in a Business Context
by Alan Price. International Thomson Business Press - ISBN
People management – origins

Arguably, HRM has become the dominant approach to people management in
English-speaking countries. However, it is important to stress that
human resource management has not 'come out of nowhere'. HRM has
absorbed ideas and techniques from a number of areas. In effect, it is
a synthesis of themes and concepts drawn from over a century of
management theory and social science research.

Strategic management. Directing people to achieve strategic objectives
so that individual goals are tied to the business needs of the whole
organization. Strategic management has become a dominant framework for
organizational thinking since the second world war. It is based on
concepts first used for largescale military and space programmes in
the USA. Frequently, it employs project and team-based methods for
planning and implementation. Lately, internal (including human)
resources and key competencies have been identified as crucial
elements of long-term competitive success.  Strategic management has
become the major unifying theme of undergraduate and - especially -
postgraduate business courses. The concern with strategy distinguishes
human resource management from personnel management.

***** This chapter gives you a good overview of the progression in
thinking on approaches to human resource management.

Strategic HRM

There is a considerable debate about what 'Strategic Human Resource
Management' (SHRM) actually means. There are many definitions,

'A human resource system that is tailored to the demands of the
business strategy' (Miles and Snow 1984).

'The pattern of planned human resource activities intended to enable
an organization to achieve its goals' (Wright and McMahan 1992).

Such definitions range from a portrayal of SHRM as a 'reactive'
management field where human resource management is a tool with which
to implement strategy, to a more proactive function in which HR
activities can actually create and shape the business strategy
(Sanz-Valle et al, 1998).

***** See additional comments and a bibliography for further study of
this topic.

Management at the University of St. Andrews
Lecture 2 Strategic HRM and business performance -- PDF or Word
Strategic HRM and Business Performance

Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM)
Challenging (Strategic) Human Resources Management Theory: Integration
of Resource-based Approaches and New Institutionalism

(also called Business Based or Contingency theory)
Human Resources Strategy: The Era of Our Ways

***** This is a 39-page scholarly paper that gives an extensive
discussion of “best fit” in the evolution of HR management theory.

Human Resource Practices Development Team

The HRPD Team reports contain a series of recommendations for MIT
human resource programs and policies. … It is important to note that
the HRPD teams have been charged with developing recommendations about
human resource practices changes.  However, implementation of these
recommendations is outside of the purview of the HRPD Team which is
scheduled to be disbanded in January 1999 after all work has been
completed.  However, neither final approval nor funding for
implementation of the recommendations has occurred yet.

In developing their recommendations, team members have solicited input
broadly from the MIT community to understand key human resource issues
within all employee categories and to look for and build upon MIT’s
best human resource practices across departments, labs and centers.

***** This set of reports summarizes the activities of the HR team
charged with re-engineering MITs HR practices. The team conducted
research to find the best fit of policies and recommended best

Integrated Performance Management: Adding a New Dimension

***** This is a 22-page paper that reports on a research project on
strategic and maturity alignment or fit in an organization.

(also called Universal theory)
Jeffrey Pfeffer on HR Practices 

BD- You mentioned earlier that high performance HR practices could be
viewed as universal principles.  Based on this, is it fair to
categorize them as best practices? Could you give us your thoughts on
best practices?

JP- Well, I am not sure I know what “best practices” really means.  I
mean to me “best practices” means doing things that you have found, in
a fairly consistent fashion, that work.  The problem, I think, with
“best practices” or using the phrase or concept of “best practices”,
is captured in one of the most insightful comments I have ever heard. 
An executive woman in one of our summer executive programs, as we were
going through some material on The Knowing-Doing Gap, made what I
thought was probably one of the most profound statements I have ever
heard.  She said, right in the middle of class,  “All of a sudden it
dawned on me: we have been benchmarking the wrong things in our
company.  We go out and we copy what other companies do and instead I
think we ought to go out and copy how they think.”

***** Jeffrey Pfeffer is a professor at Stanford University. He
originally suggested that there were 16 practices (now reduced to
seven) that lead to strategic HR performance.

The Human Equation: Building Profits by Putting People First
by Jeffrey Pfeffer
Manufacturer/Publisher: Harvard Business School Press 
Release Date: January, 1998

Best practices of ICT workforce management – a comparable research
initiative in Finland

***** This is a 9-page report on a descriptive research project
examining the implementation of best practices.
Recent Publications
Best practices of ict workforce management - A comparatible research
initiative in Finland. HRM Global Conference: "Comparative HRM
-Learning from Diversity", 20-22.6.2001, Barcelona, Spain.

***** This is a 21-page version of the same report.


Extract from People Management 22 April 1999 Vol 5 No 8
Offensive thinking

HR professionals' obsession with 'best practice' is preventing them
from playing a more central role in shaping business strategy and
improving performance, argues Kevin Green, managing director of Qtab.

Abandoning best practice as the driver of HR’s agenda will undoubtedly
mean learning a new language and a new set of skills. But the quicker
we recognise this and start to develop ourselves, the quicker we can
contribute effectively to our organisations’ debates about strategy
and future direction.

***** This is a short article by a Strategic HR manager who protests
the use of “best practices” as counterproductive to strategic HR.

Case Studies using the Strategic Human Resource Management Framework

In November 1997, a framework for strategic and accountable human
resource (HR) management was released titled "The High Performance
Public Sector Workforce - A Framework for Delivering Business Outcomes
through Strategic and Accountable Human Resource Management". The
framework was intended as a tool for public sector organisations to
continuously improve their HR management in line with international
good practice.

Four public sector agencies trialed the Framework from November 1997
to March 1998. The following case studies detail how these four
agencies approached an analysis of their positioning of HR management
in their agency through the application of the HR Management

Recreating the HR Function

***** This is a 7-page overview of a 400+ page comprehensive report
from a major HR consulting company. It includes a 2-page case study on
Apple’s HR change initiatives.


Benchmarking- New work on measurement from The Center for Corporate
Citizenship at The Boston College

The Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College provides
leadership in establishing corporate citizenship as a business
essential, so that all companies act as economic and social assets to
the communities they impact.

This best-practice benchmarking project was conducted jointly by The
Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College and the American
Productivity & Quality Center (APQC). It tool a close look at the
measurement process, looking at seven companies that have demonstrated
best practices in measuring their community involvement programs and
deconstructs the processes they follow.

Best practice organisations explicitly define in written policy
statements how community involvement will contribute to business
goals. Then they set strategic goals for community involvement that
are based on corporate as well as community needs.

***** This is a report on a research project directed to establishing
corporate citizenship measurements in order to develop best practices.

Do HRM practices differ between low and high performing organisations
in Australia?

The ‘universalistic’ or ‘best practices’ view argues that high
performance work practices (hereinafter HPWP) will increase
organisational performance irrespective of organisational, industrial,
or national context.  Contingency theorists argue that to be
effective, an organisation’s HRM practices must be consistent with
other aspects of the organisation such as business strategy.  The
configurational approach emphasises the need for HRM practices to fit
with each other, as well as with other strategies and is sometimes
referred to as ‘bundles’ theory. Guest (1997) noted that there is
empirical support for each of the three perspectives but consistently
stronger support for the universalistic model – the evidence for which
is now presented.

These results provide some support for the universalistic model which
asserts that the adoption of such HPWP can enhance the performance of
all organisations and is complemented by previous studies such as
Arthur (1994), Becker and Gerhart (1996), Huselid (1995), Pfeffer
(1995), Pfeffer (1998), and Terpstra and Rozell (1993) who also found
that these HPWP contribute to organisational performance.  Although
one must be cautious in generalising the findings of a study with the
sample size used here, the current study provides some support that
this approach may also be relevant in an Australian context.

***** This is a report on a research study that seems to confirm the
validity of the “best practice” model in Australian organizations.
A Strategic Human Resource Management System for the 21th Century
Volume I – September 2000
Naval Personnel Taskforce

***** This is a detailed and thorough description of the work of this
taskforce to transform the US Navy’s HR practices. The Executive
Summary gives you an excellent overview of the whole project and gives
you a detailed example of how a prescriptive approach was taken by a
large and tradition driven organization. See the section on
Application of Best Practices for “real life” examples for your paper.

The individual and collective talents, skills, and capabilities of the
total force of active duty, reserve, civilian, and contractor
personnel are required to accomplish the mission and goals of the U.S.
Navy and Marine Corps. In today's volunteer military forces, leaders
rely on a sophisticated human resource management (HRM) system to
recruit, train, assign, motivate, care for, evaluate, retain, and
eventually separate personnel. That system affects the quality of life
of service members and their families, influences public perceptions
of naval service, and contributes to the performance of naval missions
today and in the future. While the civilian HRM system differs from
the military system, its effects on people can be just as significant.

Human resource management in the Department of the Navy (DoN) is
approaching a state of crisis. … The future will be even more
challenging. … To identify ways for the DoN to adapt its HRM systems
to meet the "people" requirements of 2020, a Naval Personnel Task
Force was convened by the Secretary of the Navy.

The overall conclusion of the Task Force was that, to remain viable in
the coming decades, the DoN must fundamentally change the way it
manages its human resources. Fine-tuning of personnel programs and
implementation of scattered new initiatives will not be sufficient to
compete with the private sector in the "war for talent." The DoN must
revise its approach to human resource management, recognizing that its
people are the indispensable element in mission accomplishment. The
Department and its component organizations must remain mission driven,
but decisions about resources and programs must be based primarily on
human resource considerations rather than on the availability and
operating requirements of "platforms" and military equipment. This
approach will entail a fundamental change in institutional values, and
will require the Department to align all its various human resource
programs while allowing its component organizations the flexibility to
adapt to specific mission requirements.

Guidelines for Best Practice

These guidelines are based on an exhaustive review of the research
literature in training and development, counseling and psychotherapy,
and behavior change. The guidelines are additive and synergistic; to
be effective, social and emotional learning experiences need not
adhere to all of these guidelines, but the chances for success
increase with each one that is followed.

***** This is a set of guidelines for best practices in training from
an HR consulting company.

What is the future of the Human Resource Function ?

What are high performance people strategies? Dr. Pfeffer identifies,
"seven dimensions that seem to characterize most if not all of the
systems producing profits through people".

1) Employment security. 
2) Selective hiring of new personnel. 
3) Self-managed teams and decentralization of decision making as the
basic principles of organizational design.
4) Comparatively high compensation contingent on organizational
5) Extensive training. 
6) Reduced status distinctions and barriers, including dress,
language, office arrangements, and wage differences across levels.
7) Extensive sharing of financial and performance information
throughout the organization. p. 64-65

The International Journal of Human Resource Management is the forum
for HRM scholars and professionals world-wide.

Concerned with the expanding role of strategic human resource
management in a fast-changing global environment, the Journal focuses
on future trends in HRM, drawing on empirical research in the areas of
strategic management, international business, organisational,
personnel management and industrial relations.

Human Resource Planning Society
Select Journal Articles

***** You can access the articles for free if you have a subscription
or membership. Otherwise they’re available for a small fee.

Human Resource Management

***** Questia offers an online library of over 45,000 books and
360,000 journal, magazine and newspaper articles for a monthly

Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world's
largest association devoted to human resource management.
SHRM White Papers
ASTD Articles
BNA Bulletin to Management
ISPI Articles
***** SHRM offers a very broad range of resources. Some are available
to members only. You may have access to the articles and papers
through your university library.

The HRM Guide Network is a series of linked human resource websites
containing hundreds of free pages of Human Resource Management-related
articles, features and links PLUS bestselling books and travel guides.

Strategic HR

Our qualitative case studies fill a huge gap. Our resources help guide
Managers through change processes by profiling the road-maps to
success that business leaders in all types of organizations have
achieved. We tell the full story of how great strategies and processes
were put in place, based on facts from personal interviews with each

Business Driven HRM : A Best Practice Blueprint
David Hussey
ISBN: 0-470-84433-7
302 pages
May 2003

Internet resources for Best Practice Management
Useful Starters 
Electronic Journals 
Government Information 
Professional Associations, Organisations and Consultancies 
Academic and Research Organisations 
Discussion Lists and Newsgroups 

***** This is an enormous collection of links.


“strategic human resource management”
theory "strategic human resource management"
HR theory "best fit"
HR theory "best practice"
strategic hr "best practice"

Request for Answer Clarification by cora23-ga on 31 Oct 2003 06:41 PST
Hi czh,

Thanks for your help, i can see that you found lots of research for
me, but i can't access (open) most of the sites. Can you please
summaries some of the site regarding to the question, thanks.


Clarification of Answer by czh-ga on 31 Oct 2003 11:11 PST
Hello again Cora,

I’m distressed to hear that you can’t open the links I’ve found for
you. Perhaps you can get your tutor to help you with finding a
computer where you can have better access. I think the sites to PPT
presentations would give you excellent summaries of some of the

I suggest that you pay the most attention to the first article I
cited. It definitely covers all the points you need to cover in your
paper. Please check out the additional summaries I’ve located for you.

Best wishes for successful completion of the course.

~ czh ~
Strategic Human Resource Management: Where Have We Come From and Where
We Should Be Going.

Dr Peter Boxall, University of Auckland Business School and John
Purcell of the University of Bath are coauthors of this article which
is a distillation of their textbook “Strategy and Human Resource
Management.” This is a popular work and is used in many Human Resource
Management and Organizational Development courses. Below I’ve listed
several presentations, excerpts and articles that summarize the
concepts of “best fit” and “best practice” in the context of
“strategic human resource management” that should meet your needs for
summaries if you can’t visit the prior resource sites I furnished in
my research for your answer.
Strategy and Human Resource Management
Peter Boxall, John Purcell, September 2002 

Dr Peter Boxall, University of Auckland

John Purcell, University of Bath

***** This is the textbook and you can read the introduction and a
sample chapter. The key points the authors address have to do with the
integration of two classes of literature about human resource
management. On one side, the general interest in strategic management
has tended to ignore the need to include “human issues” in “the
formation and execution of strategy.” On the other side, human
resources theorists and practitioners have been more concerned with
various HR specialty areas instead of the overall picture “to perceive
the ways in which HR strategy might need to be integrated with other
management functions and with the overall sense of direction.”

In order to address these issues, the authors review the historical
context of the study of strategic human resource management. Their
introduction sets the stage by stating: “As the field of strategic HRM
has developed over the last ten years, a debate has raged over the
role of context (‘best fit’) and universalism (‘best practice”). We
explore this debate, taking the view – shared by some in the field –
that both unique context and general principles have a role to play in
HR strategy.”

The authors develop a definition of strategic human resources to
emphasize that it is a “human process, dependent on human strengths,
but also affected by our cognitive weaknesses and political agendas.”
Consequently, the people side of corporate management is crucial to
corporate success.

The discussion of the merits of “best fit” and “best practices”
theories and management strategies is covered in the early chapters of
the book. Best fit discusses the importance of the particular context
of corporate HR initiatives and emphasizes that each organization must
determine what is the best approach to achieve their goals. Best
practices, on the other hand, promulgates that there are certain human
resources principles that are universal which must be adopted by all
organizations if they want to be successful. This leads to discussions
of benchmarking and other techniques to discover and establish the
external standards of what is “best” that can then be adopted by the

Below I’ve listed some additional links from various courses,
workshops and articles that provide further summaries of these
concepts. I believe they will provide you ample resources (along with
the examples and research I posted earlier) to help you complete your
Chapter 4
The Strategic HRM Debate and the Resource-based View of the Firm

***** This is an excellent summary of the “best fit” and “best
practice” concepts in relation to strategic human resource management.
See additional links from this same course for PPT summaries.
Dr. M. Suzanne Clinton
Dean, International Business Studies 
Associate Professor of Management 
Cameron University, Lawton, OK

***** See PPT slides for 24 chapters and 5 parts, especially:

HR Management

The concept of ‘fit’ refers to the integration of human resource
management with the overall strategic objectives of the organisation.
Success within an organisation can be determined by establishing an
external fit between organisational resources and environmental
influences, and by developing an internal fit between the strategy,
design and function of the firm. The SHRM team should have an external
and an internal focus (Butler, Ferris and Napier, 1991: p. 79). This
external focus refers to their association with the corporate strategy
group and other leadership departments; internally, they are in the
best position to analyse employee attitudes and capabilities. The
development of a strategic fit has important ramifications for the HR
function. The culture, strategic objectives, personnel policies and
management behaviour all influence the company’s people (Collins,
1987:p. 15; Rance, 1996). Tight fit is only possible when the senior
management has a clear understanding of the firm’s direction, and is
able to effectively communicate that to their subordinates (Dunn,
1995: p. 58). The objectives and manner in which they are to be
achieved needs to be explained.

***** This article gives you lots of citations for research done in
the strategic HR field.
Subject: Re: regarding to Best practice and Best fit in Human Resource Management (HRM)
From: k8t-ga on 18 May 2004 14:46 PDT
Thanks for all the postings - I needed most of this stuff for an exam
tomorrow (I should have known it fully already) but it's been a great
help thanks.
Ask me any Q's tomorrow about best fit, best practice, the resource
based theory - in fact anything to do with stategic human resource
management and i should know!!

Thanks millions again,


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