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According to Tan and Nasurdin (2011), Schuler and Jackson (1987) defined HRM practices as a “system that attracts, develops, motivates, and retains employees to ensure the effective implementation and the survival of the organization and its members.” While Delery & Doty (1996) describes it as a “set of internally consistent policies and practices designed and implemented to ensure that a firm’s human capital contribute to the achievement of its business objectives” (Tan and Nasurdin, 2011). The practices of HR are therefore associated with organizational activities that are related to the management of HR that ensures the fulfilment of the organizational goals. It is impossible to say that HR practices or systems of practices that seek to define HRM belong to a fixed list or group, hence the question of whether HRM can improve organization performance and development has illuminated three popular perspectives, the universalistic, contingency and configuration perspectives.
According to Delery and Doty (1996), the Universalistic Perspective: implies that any relationship that exists between an independent variable and a dependent variable will be universal across the entire organization population. Two requirements for developing this perspective are:
• Identification of strategic HR practices – strategic HR practices relate to practices that are empirically or theoretically linked to the entire organization performance.
• Presentation of arguments relating the individual practices to the organizational performance (Delery and Doty, 1996).
The universalistic perspective is therefore of the view that a universal linkage does exists between HRM and performance whereby there is a possibility for HR practices/systems of HR practices to increase organizational performance. Also, the seven practices which was identified by Pfeffer’s (1998a) listed under HRMP is an example of this view.
The Contingency Perspective: in contrast to the universalistic perspective, Delery and Doty’s (1996) argue that the relationship that exists between the relevant independent variable and the dependent variable will vary across different levels based on the following factors: age and size, ownership and location of the organization, technology, capital (fixed/real), and unionization of industry/sector (Delery and Doty, 1996).
The Configuration Perspective: the purpose of this perspective lies in the synergistic effects that are created from HR practices when grouped together and employed in a logical manner. Delery and Doty (1996) cited Arthur’s (1994) postulated that control and commitment HR systems are based on the idea that “the closer an organization’s HR practices resemble the correct prototypical system (for its business strategy), the greater the performance gains” (Delery and Doty, 1996).
In the early days the perspectives mentioned-above dominated the field of HRM and performance. Delery and Doty (1996) conducted an investigation of the three perspectives and discovered favourable supporting evidence for both universalistic and contingency perspectives. However, evidence to support the configuration perspectives was insufficient and minor in contrast to the other two perspectives Delery and Doty (1996).

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