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contingency approach

Annette Cox


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Contingency approach refers to a method of decision‐making often applied in devising appropriate human resource (HR) strategies and termed the “best fit” approach in contrast to “best practice” approaches. It is based on the premise that picking the most effective HR policies and practices depends on matching them appropriately to the organization's environment. The contingent factors influencing HR strategy might include type of business strategy pursued, organization size, type of technology, geographic location and labor market, management skills and preferences, industry sector and economic conditions. One formulation of contingency theory to prescribe HR practices for different organizations is the business strategy model based on Michael Porter's threefold categorization of business strategies as focused on the pursuit of low costs, product innovation, or quality. Another variant is the business life‐cycle model, which specifies different HR techniques according to organization age from start‐up to decline. Contingency models can be static and offer no help to dynamic organizations undergoing frequent change and neglect to recognize that organizations often need to satisfy multiple conflicting goals. They can be either too simplistic and fail to include every contingency or too complex for managers to apply in practice. Future contingency research should be refined to address ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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