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The 8-box model by Paul Boselie

A different HR model that’s often used to model what we do in HR, is the 8-box model by Paul Boselie. The 8-box model shows different external and internal factors that influence the effectiveness of what we do in HR.

First of all, you see the external general market context, the external population market context, the external general institutional context, and the external population institutional context. These are external forces that influence how we do HR.

For example, if there is a shortage of certain skills in the market, this influences how we do our sourcing, recruiting, and hiring, compared to when there’s an abundance of qualified workers. The institutional context also changes: legislation impacts the way we work in HR (e.g. the day-to-day impact of HR) while trade unions and work councils limit what we can do.

The core process in the middle starts with the configuration. The company’s history, culture and the technology used are all factors that influence how we communicate in HR, what we want to achieve, and how effective we are in our HR policies. All of these factors influence our HR strategy.

The HR strategy consists of six parts:

  • Intended HR practices:
    The intention we have with our recruitment, training, and other practices matters but this model shows it’s only a starting point.
  • Actual HR practices:
    We can have great intentions but the execution of HR practices is a cooperation between HR and the manager. When the manager decides to do things differently, the intention can be nice but the actual practices can be very different.
  • Perceived HR practices:
    This is how the employee perceives what’s going on in the organization. HR and the manager can do their absolute best but if their activities are perceived in a different way than they were intended and actually done, the perception will not mirror the actual HR practices.
  • HR outcomes:
    The perceived HR practices (hopefully) lead to certain HR outcomes. These are similar to the ones in the Standard Causal Model of HR, described above.
  • HR outcomes lead to critical HR goals (i.e. cost-effectiveness, flexibility, legitimacy, and so on), which in turn leads to ultimate business goals (i.e. profit, market share, market capitalization – all related to the viability of the organization, and other factors that help to build competitive advantage).
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