Approaches to SHRM

By John Dudovskiy

The main objective of strategic human resources management (SHRM) can be specified as “to ensure that human resource management is fully integrated into strategic planning, that HRM policies cohere both across policy areas and across hierarchies and that HRM policies are accepted and used by line managers as part of their every day work” (Regis, 2009, p.6).

Approaches to SHRM

Generally, the main approaches to SHRM are divided into three main categories: universalistic, contingency, and configurational. Universalistic or ‘best practice’ approach to HRM relates to the viewpoint that there is a set of best HRM practices and their adoption is going to generate positive results regardless of the circumstances associated with organisations.

Universalistic approach states that ‘best practices’ in relation to a wide range of HR issues such as employee recruitment and selection, training and development, employee motivation is equally applicable to each organisation regardless of the nature of unique aspects organisations might have.

Contingency or ‘best fit’ approach on the other hand, disagrees with the presence of universal prescriptions to HR issues and stresses the need for integration between HR policies and a wide range of other organisational policies.

Configurational approach to SHRM “stresses the need for practices that are contingent with organisational circumstances, but in addition emphasizes the need for horizontal or internal fit” (Sparrow et al., 2004, p.158). To put is simply, configurational approach recognises the validity of ‘best practices’, but at the same time, accepts the importance of adjustment of HR policies with the overall organisational strategy.

Alternatively, approaches to SHRM can be divided into four categories: strategy-focused, decision-focused, content-focused, and implementation-focused.



Regis, R. (2009) “Strategic Human Resource Management & Development” Excel Books

Sparrow, P.R, Brewster, C. & Harris, H. (2004) “Globalising Human Resource Management” Routledge

Category: HRM