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Is this Awesome HR Model Fake?

I came across an interesting model that took into account the internal and external factors that influence what we do in Human Resources (HR). That’s particularly relevant during these times (with the health pandemic, global change and uncertainty.) Here’s the problem: I think the model might be fake! Is this even possible? You tell me… 

When I consider writing about any model, framework or theory, I do my best to dive in and absorb much of the material that has been written about the topic. In this instance, I noticed a number of red flags that indicate that either a lot of information is missing about this model or perhaps it’s been fudged.  

The model is the 8-box model of Human Resource Management (HRM) which is attributed to Paul Boselie, PhD. Four boxes focus on the internal strategy, efforts and goals of the HR function, and the other four boxes focus on external influences on what we do in HR. 

The following are the warning flags and corresponding references. If you have any additional information or resources, please let us know in the comments section at the bottom of this article. 

First Flag

A Google search produced four key results - one of which was from the entity that originally shared the model from their blog with me. The second webpage had the exact same content as the first one. Someone appears to be doing some plagiarising, but because those pages aren’t dated, I don’t know who wrote the content first.  Nonetheless, that’s unusual to see. The third page had different content, but the content was directly from the model and described the model as it’s illustrated. So there was no new or unique information from the third page. The fourth link led to a PDF, which mirrored and gave reference to the first webpage. (These pages were reviewed on 1 April 2022.) But all of these pages attributed the model to the same person, so I looked into him. 

  1. AIHR Blog (see model 2)
  2. PeopleHum
  3. Contract Recruiter
  4. Nature of HRM (page 27)

Second Flag

Paul Boselie, a University professor, is attributed with the development of this model. So I went directly to the professor’s University webpage to scan his work. I confirmed that he is a real professor - No argument there. Interestingly, the University webpage does not give him any acknowledgement or credit for this HRM model. The University webpage references his research and his books, so I directed my efforts to those materials next.  

Paul Boselie (PhD, MSc) is Professor in the Utrecht School of Governance at Utrecht University (USG) in the Netherlands.

Third Flag

First, I came across a 2020 scholarly article that addressed the model and included a reference to the model. I thought to myself “finally, I’ve found it.” However, no such article or book that matches the date and name of that reference exist in an online search. How bizarre! (As someone who completed a doctorate, I found that highly irregular!) So I started scanning the professor’s scholarly articles through online searches. To make this faster, I opened each article and did a search with “Control-F” to find the model. Unfortunately, this effort was unsuccessful - not one mention of the model anywhere in his research. So I turned to his books. 

The 2020 Research Article

Fourth Flag

I scanned the professor’s most recent book by using Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature. I also briefly listened to the professor’s audio presentation of his books. I could quickly ascertain that the model was not discussed in his books based on the Table of Contents.

  1. Amazon
  2. Audio Presentation

At this point with four red flags and about three hours of effort, I realised that I was not comfortable writing about the 8-box HRM model and sharing information that could be potentially misleading. So, why write this article the way that I did?

I share this for two reasons:

  1. As a reminder to always check your sources and not share content (no matter how interesting) that you can’t verify; and
  2. To let our readers know how we go about searching content and how much importance we place on only sharing verifiable and evidence-based resources. 

Just like with all of our tools, assessments and materials, we only ever apply real models that are backed by years’ of research that have direct application to the challenges that you and/or your team are facing.  

Temre Green, PhD

Temre Green, PhD

Head of Consulting Services, Australia & New Zealand. Temre has designed, planned and delivered business strategy and transformation programs that were driven by a range of factors, such as innovation, growth, compliance, regulations, restructures and economic downturns. As an Industrial-Organisational Psychologist, Temre has spent her career dedicated to organisational behaviour and the work environment. She is currently focused on the future of work and multiple areas of organisational development that support organisational growth and health.

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