HRM and Fit: Survival of the fittest!? Defended on Thursday, 12 June 2008

What is the nature of ‘fit’ in strategic HRM? This is the question guiding this thesis. Although the idea of fit is theoretically convincing, empirical evidence to support the role of fit is limited. Previous studies on fit have mainly focused on the alignment between HRM and strategy (strategic fit) and the alignment of HR practices with each other such that they form a consistent HR system (internal fit). Criticism of current research includes that there has been a lack of attention to dynamics and employee interests, and a lack of sophistication in the description of fit. Conceptualizations and operationalizations of fit in HRM need refining. This thesis reports research on five types of fit: strategic, internal, organizational, and institutional fit from the strategic HRM field, and person-environment fit from the applied psychology literature. First, new conceptualizations and operationalizations of fit in HRM are developed and evaluated using qualitative case study data from three Dutch organizations. Next, we aim to bridge organizational and individual level HRM research by assessing the contribution of person-environment fit to the strategic HRM field using employee survey data from two organizations. Finally, the possible effectiveness of fit for different stakeholders is explored. Does fit make a difference to organizations? This research provides insight in the different elements that make up fit. Results indicate that the different types of fit are interrelated, and that person-environment fit provides a valuable contribution to strategic HRM as it plays a significant role in explaining the relationship between HRM perceptions and employee attitudes and behaviors. Also, ‘adaptive capabilities’ are important for achieving a strong fit in the long run. This thesis concludes with an evaluation of the fit concept and an exploration of possible benefits of achieving a fit for organizations.


human resource management, fit, alignment, strategy, institutional theory, person-environment fit, case study, survey, retail, health care

Preferred reference

Boon, C.T. (2008, June 12). HRM and Fit: Survival of the fittest!? (No. EPS-2008-129-ORG). ERIM Ph.D. Series Research in Management. Erasmus Research Institute of Management. Retrieved from

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