Examining the Ability, Motivation and Opportunity (AMO) framework in HRM research: Conceptualization, measurement and interactions

Anna Bos-Nehles*, Keith Townsend, Kenneth Cafferkey, Jordi Trullen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
359 Downloads (Pure)


Despite the increasing popularity of the Ability, Motivation, Opportunity (AMO) framework in the Human Resource Management (HRM) field, AMO research is at a crossroads in theoretical and empirical development. This is due to (a) a lack of clarity about the conceptualisation and measurement of AMO variables, (b) the construction of AMO articles that do not distinguish between AMO differences and AMO-enhancing HRM practices and fail to integrate them, (c) a lack of understanding about how AMO variables at the individual and organizational levels interact to generate individual and organizational performance, and (d) a lack of consideration of the process (mediators and moderators) through which AMO generates performance gains. Based on the analysis of 104 quantitative HRM articles published between 1997 and 2022, this study helps to draw clearer distinctions among AMO variables and levels of analysis. The review of the empirical literature shows that there is excessive heterogeneity with regard to the conceptualization and utilisation of AMO variables, which in turn leads to scale proliferation. We find that research on AMO-enhancing HRM practices and AMO differences is rarely combined and tends to be tested at a single level rather than more logical cross-level effects between AMO-enhancing HRM practices, AMO differences and performance. We also found that whereas Ability and Motivation differences mediate the relationship between AMO-enhancing HRM practices and performance, opportunity appears to be a boundary condition in the relationship between Ability and Motivation with performance outcomes. The paper concludes with relevant avenues for future AMO research suggested for the field of HRM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)725-739
Number of pages15
JournalInternational journal of management reviews
Issue number4
Early online date9 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


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