Up to this point, we have described the theory, research, and practice of the assessment center method. In this chapter, we describe the context in which assessment centers are conducted. When discussing the assessment center method we have demonstrated that assessment programs come in all shapes and sizes. Even though they all conform to the basic requirements specified in the Guidelines (i.e., simulations, multiple assessment methods, multiple assessors, etc.; International Task Force, 2000), assessment centers are “plastic” (Howard, 1997). As we have shown, there are wide differences in each of the elements of the assessment center method. What explains these differences? Aside from the differences that result when assessment centers are designed for different purposes, differences result from factors in an organization’s internal and external environment. In this chapter we examine:

how assessment center practices are integrated with the organization’s business strategy;

how assessment centers serve an organization’s human resource management strategy;

how assessment dimensions can integrate a number of human resource management practices;

how assessment center practices are influenced by the external environment of the organization, specifically the legal system.