Academic journal article Management Revue

Theoretical Substantiation of Human Resource Management from the Perspective of Work and Organisational Psychology

Academic journal article Management Revue

Theoretical Substantiation of Human Resource Management from the Perspective of Work and Organisational Psychology

Article excerpt

Theoretical Substantiation of Human Resource Management from the Perspective of Work and Organisational Psychology**

In the article it is tried to substantiate further developments in human resource management with reference to the competency approach in work and organisational psychology. First the objectives of scientific and applied research in work and organisational psychology are lined out. Then the competency approach is discussed as a helpful concept to different challenges of human resource management. With reference to this assumption three different theoretical and methodological perspectives are introduced which focus on different aspects of understanding, analysing, diagnosing and developing competencies. These include the action and self-organisation theory perspectives of competencies and the competency modelling perspective.

Key words: Work and Organisational Psychology, Action Theory, Self-organisation Theory, Competency Modelling Approach, Competency Based Human Resource Management


The understanding and effective management of people in organisations is the core issue of human resource management. As a scientifically substantiated discipline of business management and administrative science it is based on theoretical models and empirically proven concepts and methods. The theories, concepts and methods are derived from a diversity of other disciplines and fields of scientific research. Thus, the theoretical and methodological approach to HRM issues is in most cases eclectic because of their complex and not well defined characteristics. One of these disciplines in which HRM is rooted is psychology - especially work and organisational (w/o)psychology.

W/o-psychology is the science of behaviour and other human variables at work and in organisations. It is an applied science which draws from a broad and diverse theoretical basis (Frieling/Sonntag 2000). This specifically includes psychological theories of cognition, motivation, learning and social behaviour which are used to describe, explain, predict, and control human behaviour at work or in organisational settings. These theoretical concepts are not only helpful to guide psychological research in workplaces and organisations, they are also used to solve practical problems especially in the field of human resource management. Psychological theories of work motivation, e.g., have been used to develop job analysis techniques to diagnose motivational dimensions of work. Based on these theories, interventional concepts to (re)design jobs for the enhancement of work motivation have also been created and positively evaluated. In accordance with Lewin's (1936) sentence "Nothing is as practical as a good theory" one of the central goals of applied research in w/o-psychology is that the development of diagnostic and interventional concepts or tools should be theoretically substantiated and reflect sound psychological models. Based on this philosophy researchers in w/o-psychology have developed a wide spectrum of theoretically substantiated diagnostic and interventional approaches and methods. These concepts are in fact related to many of the core areas of human resource management like needs or requirements analyses, personnel recruitment and selection, personnel development and health prevention, enhancement of work motivation and performance improvement or the support of adequate leadership behaviour.

Concerning the question of how theoretical developments in the field of w/opsychological could substantiate approaches in human resource management the author is somehow in a dilemma. An adequate answer would result in an endless enumeration of psychological concepts which have proven to be useful in applied organisational contexts or to support human resource management issues. Alternatively, one could select promising theoretical models or approaches of w/o-psychology which are justified under a certain perspective or dependant on defined criteria. …

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