The model is prescriptive in the sense that it is based on the assumption that HRM is distinctively different from traditional personnel management (rooted in strategic management, etc.).
It is idealistic, implicitly embodying the belief that fundamental elements of the HRM approach (essentially those of the Harvard map) such as commitment have a direct relationship with valued business consequences.
However, Guest has acknowledged that the concept of commitment is 'messy' and that the relationship between commitment and high performance is (or, perhaps, was - given the age of this material) difficult to establish. It also employs a 'flow' approach, seeing strategy underpinning practice, leading to a variety of desired outcomes.
Like its American predecessors, this UK model is unitarist (tying employee behaviour and commitment into the goals of strategic management) and lukewarm on the value of trade unions. The employee relationship is viewed as one between the individual and the organization.
A harder approach - people as human resources
A different view of HRM is associated with the Michigan Business School (Fombrun, Tichy and Devanna, 1984). There are many similarities with the Harvard 'map' but the Michigan model has a harder, less humanistic edge, holding that employees are resources in the same way as any other business resource. People have to be managed in a similar manner to equipment and raw materials. They must be obtained as cheaply as possible, used sparingly, and developed and exploited as much as possible.
The Michigan model is also known as the 'matching model' or 'best-fit' approach to human resource management. In essence, it requires that human resource strategies have a tight fit to the overall strategies of the business. As such, it limits the role of HR to a reactive, organizational function and under-emphasizes the importance of societal and other external factors. For example, it is difficult to see how the current concern for worklife balance could be integrated into this model.
Fombrun et al identified four common HR processes performed in every organization:
Selection: matching people to jobs
Appraisal of performance
Rewards: emphasizing the real importance of pay and other forms of compensation in achieving results
Development of skilled individuals
These processes are linked in a human resource cycle.
The matching model has attracted criticism. At a conceptual level, it is seen to depend on