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Navigating the Landscape of Pragmatic Human Resources: A Comprehensive Analysis

In the intricate world of Human Resources (HR), professionals are often confronted with a myriad of challenges that require a balanced approach. The quest for an optimal HR model has led to the evolution of three distinct paradigms: Idealistic, Realistic, and Pragmatic. Each model offers unique perspectives and strategies, yet it is the Pragmatic approach that promises a harmonious blend of the strengths inherent in the other two. In this article, we will embark on an explorative journey to unravel the essence of these models, with a special focus on the Pragmatic HR system, enriched with real-life examples and analytical insights.

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Section 1: The Idealistic HR Model

The Idealistic HR model is rooted in a world of strict formalizations and predictive strategies, where every action and decision is guided by established protocols and standards. This model is characterized by its staunch adherence to these formalizations, viewing rigidity not as a flaw but as a feature that ensures every process is meticulously planned and executed. In this environment, predictability and consistency reign supreme.

Core Characteristics

  1. Structured Protocols: Every aspect of HR, from recruitment to employee evaluation and promotions, is governed by well-defined protocols. These protocols are designed to eliminate ambiguity and ensure that every decision is made based on objective criteria.

  2. Predictive Strategies: The model relies heavily on predictive strategies that anticipate future needs and challenges. It employs data and analytics to inform decision-making, ensuring that actions are taken based on evidence and foresight.

  3. Bureaucratic Norms: The primary objective of the Idealistic HR model is to compel both people and technology to conform to established bureaucratic norms. It values consistency and uniformity, ensuring that organizational processes are standardized across the board.


Consider a multinational corporation where every decision, from hiring to promotions, is based on a set of predefined criteria. Employees are evaluated against a fixed set of standards, and there is little room for flexibility. In this environment, roles are clearly defined, and expectations are set from the onset. While this approach ensures consistency, it often overlooks the dynamic nature of human potential and innovation.

Challenges and Criticisms

  • Lack of Flexibility: One of the significant criticisms of the Idealistic HR model is its lack of flexibility. In a rapidly changing business environment, the model’s rigid structures can sometimes be a hindrance, making it difficult for organizations to adapt to new challenges and opportunities.

  • Innovation Stifling: The strict adherence to formalizations can sometimes stifle innovation. Employees may feel constrained by the rigid protocols, limiting their creativity and ability to think outside the box.

  • Employee Dissatisfaction: While the model ensures consistency, it can lead to employee dissatisfaction. The strict protocols can sometimes overlook individual needs and preferences, leading to a workforce that feels undervalued and unappreciated.

Evolution and Adaptations

Despite its challenges, the Idealistic HR model has its merits, especially in large organizations where consistency and standardization are critical. To mitigate its limitations, some organizations are evolving the model to incorporate elements of flexibility, allowing for a more balanced approach that values both consistency and innovation.

Section 2: The Realistic HR Model

The Realistic HR model is a stark contrast to its Idealistic counterpart. It is deeply embedded in the tumultuous and unpredictable nature of the daily organizational hustle, where adaptability and agility are not just valued but are essential for survival. This model is characterized by its fluidity, flexibility, and responsiveness to immediate issues and challenges.

Core Characteristics

  1. Adaptability: The Realistic HR model is renowned for its adaptability. It thrives in environments where change is constant, and the ability to pivot quickly is a competitive advantage.

  2. Reactive Nature: This model is more reactive than proactive. It focuses on addressing immediate challenges and issues, often leading to ad-hoc decision-making that is tailored to specific situations.

  3. Flexibility: Unlike the Idealistic model, the Realistic approach is not bound by rigid protocols. It values flexibility and is designed to accommodate the dynamic and unpredictable nature of the business landscape.


Imagine a startup where the emphasis is on solving immediate challenges. The HR processes are not rigidly defined, and decisions are often made on the fly. In this environment, adaptability is a strength, allowing the organization to navigate the complex and rapidly changing business ecosystem effectively. While this approach fosters adaptability, it can sometimes lead to inconsistency and unpredictability in HR practices.

Challenges and Criticisms

  • Inconsistency: The reactive nature of the Realistic HR model can sometimes lead to inconsistency. Decisions are often made in response to immediate challenges, leading to a lack of standardization in HR practices.

  • Short-term Focus: The model’s focus on addressing immediate issues can sometimes overshadow long-term planning and strategy, potentially impacting the organization’s future growth and stability.

  • Lack of Structure: The absence of rigid protocols can sometimes lead to a lack of structure, making it challenging to scale HR practices as the organization grows.

Evolution and Adaptations

Despite its challenges, the Realistic HR model is invaluable in environments where change is the only constant. Organizations operating in highly dynamic industries often adopt this model to navigate the complexities of their business landscape. To mitigate its limitations, there is a growing trend towards integrating elements of structure and predictability to balance the model’s inherent flexibility.

Section 3: The Pragmatic HR Model

The Pragmatic HR model is a harmonious integration of the structured, predictive nature of the Idealistic model and the flexible, reactive essence of the Realistic model. It emerges as a beacon of balance in the complex landscape of human resources, offering organizations a pathway to enjoy the benefits of both extremes while mitigating their respective challenges.

Core Characteristics

  1. Balanced Approach: The Pragmatic model is characterized by its balanced approach. It integrates structured processes with the flexibility to adapt, ensuring that organizations are both stable and dynamic.

  2. Aligned Strategies: It aligns predictive strategies with reactive responses, ensuring that while there is a plan for the future, there is also room to address immediate challenges effectively.

  3. Inclusive Policies: HR policies in the Pragmatic model are well-defined yet adaptable. They are designed to be inclusive, respecting organizational norms while also valuing individual talents and innovations.


Consider a technology firm that employs structured processes for talent acquisition but allows flexibility for innovation and creativity. The HR policies are well-defined yet adaptable, ensuring that while organizational norms are respected, individual talents and innovations are not stifled. This balance fosters an environment where employees feel valued and engaged, leading to enhanced productivity and innovation.


  • Organizational Agility: The Pragmatic model fosters organizational agility. It ensures that companies can adapt to changes in the business landscape swiftly while maintaining a level of consistency and predictability in their operations.

  • Employee Engagement: By balancing structure with flexibility, employees feel more engaged and valued. They have the room to innovate and contribute their unique perspectives, leading to a more vibrant and creative organizational culture.

  • Sustainable Growth: The balanced approach ensures that while the organization is adaptable, there is also a focus on long-term planning and sustainability, leading to stable and sustainable growth.


  • Implementation Complexity: Implementing a balanced approach can be complex. It requires a nuanced understanding of the organization’s needs and the ability to integrate diverse strategies effectively.

  • Resource Intensive: Balancing structured processes with adaptability can sometimes be resource-intensive, requiring investments in training, technology, and change management.

Future Outlook

The Pragmatic HR model is increasingly becoming a preferred choice for organizations navigating the complexities of the modern business landscape. It offers a pathway to balance human potential, organizational goals, and the unpredictable nature of the business ecosystem. As organizations continue to explore and refine this model, the future of HR looks not just promising but also profoundly balanced and harmoniously aligned.

Some Insights

The Pragmatic HR model underscores the importance of equilibrium. It recognizes that while structured processes are essential for organizational consistency, adaptability is equally critical to navigate the unpredictable waters of the business environment. The model is rooted in the belief that for an organization to thrive, its HR practices must be both stable and dynamic.

Practical Examples

Example 1: Employee Evaluation

In the realm of Pragmatic HR, you might find a company that has clear guidelines for employee evaluation but is also open to feedback and modifications. For instance, a tech company might have a structured performance appraisal system that evaluates employees based on specific KPIs. However, recognizing the dynamic nature of the tech industry, the company is also open to adapting these KPIs based on ongoing feedback from employees and changes in the industry, ensuring that the evaluation process remains relevant and fair. Further on, the adoption of KBIs (Key Behavioural Indexes) can help the companies in evaluating and developing team soft skills.

Check out out blog post about KBIs:

Example 2: Employee Development Programs

Employee development programs in a Pragmatic HR setting are not just based on formal training but also include experiential learning and mentorship. A healthcare organization, for example, might have formal training programs for its staff. Still, it also encourages experiential learning where employees learn on the job and through interactions with colleagues and mentors. This approach ensures that learning is continuous, practical, and tailored to the individual’s and organization’s evolving needs. In this context, Digital Workplace Platforms are becoming a valuable solution.

Check our blog post about Digital Workplace Platforms:

Example 3: Decision-Making Process

Decision-making in a Pragmatic HR model is not just top-down but encourages participation from all levels. A retail company, for instance, might have a hierarchical structure for decision-making. However, it also fosters a culture where feedback and insights from frontline employees are valued and incorporated into decision-making processes. This inclusivity ensures that decisions are informed by diverse perspectives, leading to more robust and effective outcomes.

Example 4: Recruitment Strategies

A company operating under the Pragmatic HR model might employ a balanced recruitment strategy. For instance, a financial services firm could have a structured recruitment process to ensure that candidates meet the essential criteria for specific roles. However, it also values adaptability by incorporating flexible interview techniques, like situational judgement tests or group activities, to assess a candidate’s adaptability, creativity, and problem-solving skills in real-time scenarios.

Example 5: Workplace Flexibility

In another example, a marketing agency under the Pragmatic HR model might offer flexible working arrangements. While there are core working hours and expectations for in-office collaboration, employees are also given the autonomy to choose their working hours or work remotely. This flexibility acknowledges the importance of work-life balance and caters to diverse employee needs, promoting a more engaged and productive workforce.


These practical examples illustrate the balanced approach of the Pragmatic HR model. By integrating structured processes with adaptability, organizations can create a dynamic, responsive, and inclusive workplace that is well-equipped to navigate the complexities and uncertainties of the contemporary business landscape. The Pragmatic HR model stands as a testament to the evolution of human resources management. It encapsulates the structured elegance of the Idealistic model and the adaptive resilience of the Realistic model. In a world where change is the only constant, the Pragmatic approach offers organizations a pathway to navigate the complex terrains of human potential, organizational goals, and the unpredictable business ecosystem. As we continue to explore and refine this model, the future of HR looks not just promising, but also profoundly balanced and harmoniously aligned with the multifaceted needs of the contemporary business landscape.

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Content Curation: Adelino Gala at The AI Academy

Adelino Gala specializes in digital journalism, cognitive science and natural language processing, with a PhD and Master's in Technologies of Intelligence and Digital Design from the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo. Experienced in new technologies of communication through post-doctoral work at the University of Aveiro and various projects such as European PAgES. Bachelor's degree in Business Administration. Has also imparted knowledge as a guest professor at esteemed institutes in São Paulo and University of Aveiro. With a publication portfolio spanning journals and conferences, the author is a confluence of academia, research, and practical industry insights.


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