The mechanism through which human resource management (HRM) relates to business performance is not very well understood and often considered to be a ‘black-box’. We argue that this is partly caused by losing sight and implicitly altering one of the major fundaments of HR research: the AMO model. We illustrate that at the origins of the AMO model lies the logic that ability, motivation, and opportunity are individually necessary and jointly sufficient for employee performance. This entails fundamental different types of causality than we currently employ in research on the AMO model. Moreover, we discuss how the individual-level AMO model can be combined with organizational-level high- performance work systems (HPWS), while considering these different types of causality at the individual- level. The result is a conceptual model that helps optimal allocation of resources when designing HPWS. We argue that key to an optimal HPWS is a thorough understanding of the different abilities, motivations, and opportunities each employee requires to perform its job. Second, when designing an HPWS, resources should only be spent on enhancing the factor that the employee does not yet sufficiently have because this factor will act as a bottleneck, according to the original individually necessary and jointly sufficient logic: As long as this factor is not enhanced, employee performance will not increase. Yet, enhancing this limiting factor and hence removing the bottleneck inherently results in increased employee performance.,
Department of Technology and Operations Management

van Rhee, H.J, & Dul, J. (2018). Filling the Black-Box of HR: Unraveling the AMO Model and Elevating it to the Organizational Level. doi:10.5465/AMBPP.2018.13840abstract