Issues in People Management Impact of People Management Practices on Business Performance Malcolm G Patterson Michael A West Rebecca Lawthom Stephen Nickell Prelims. p65 1 16/06/03, 15:27 Other titles in the Issues series: Employee Motivation and the Psychological Contract Employment Attitudes in Britain Fairness at Work and the Psychological Contract Performance Management through Capability The State of the Psychological Contract in Employment Working to Learn: a work-based route to learning for young people These titles can be ordered from Plymbridge Distributors Tel: 01752 202301
The Institute of Personnel and Development is the leading publisher of books and reports for personnel and training professionals, students, and all those concerned with the effective management and development of people at work.
For full details of all our titles please contact the Publishing Department: tel. 0181-263 3387 fax 0181-263 3850 e-mail [email protected] co. uk The catalogue of all IPD titles can be viewed on the IPD website: http://www. ipd. co. uk Prelims. p65 2 16/06/03, 15:27 Issues in People Management Impact of People Management Practices on Business Performance Malcolm G Patterson Michael A West Rebecca Lawthom Stephen Nickell
Institute of Work Psychology University of Sheffield and Centre for Economic Performance London School of Economics INSTITUTE OF PERSONNEL AND DEVELOPMENT Prelims.
p65 3 16/06/03, 15:27 © Institute of Personnel and Development 1997 Reprinted 1998 (four times) All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in an information and retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without written permission of the Institute of Personnel and Development, IPD House, Camp Road, London SW19 4UX
Typeset by Paperweight Printed in Great Britain by The Cromwell Press, Wiltshire British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN 0 85292 725 8 INSTITUTE OF PERSONNEL AND DEVELOPMENT IPD House, Camp Road, London SW19 4UX Tel. : 0181 971 9000 Fax: 0181 263 3333 Registered Charity No. 1038333. A company limited by guarantee. Registered in England No. 2931892. Registered office as above. Prelims. p65 4 16/06/03, 15:27 Contents – Preface Executive summary 1 The study Sample and data collection The interviewees Company performance Organisational culture and employee attitudes 2 3 4 Employee attitudes and performance Organisational culture and performance Human resource management practices and performance Managerial practices and performance Recommendations vii ix 1 2 2 3 4 5 8 13 18 22 24 26 28 5 6 References Appendix: Organisational culture: definitions and examples End notes Prelims. p65 5 16/06/03, 15:27
Michael West is Professor of Work and Organisational Psychology at the Institute of Work Psychology, the University of Sheffield and co-Director of the Corporate Performance Programme of the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics. He has authored, edited or co-edited eight books; written more than 100 articles for scientific and practitioner publications, and chapters in scholarly books. His research interests are in innovation and creativity at work; team and organisational effectiveness and mental health work.
Malcolm Patterson is Project Manager of the Sheffield Effectiveness Programme at the Institute of Work Psychology, University of Sheffield. His current research interests include examining relationships between management practices, employee attitudes and organisational effectiveness. Rebecca Lawthom is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Work Psychology, University of Sheffield. She has collaborated with the co-authors on the Sheffield Effectiveness Programme for five years. Her research interests are in organisational climate, organisational effectiveness and gender at work.
Stephen Nickell has been Professor of Economics and Director of the Institute of Economics and Statistics at the University of Oxford since 1984. A Fellow of The Econometric Society since 1980 and of the British Academy since 1993, he has written extensively on unemployment and the labour market. -vi- Prelims. p65 6 16/06/03, 15:27 Preface Managers know that people make the critical difference between success and failure. The effectiveness with which organisations manage, develop, motivate, involve and engage the willing contribution of the people who work in them is a key determinant of how well those organisations perform.
Yet there is surprisingly little research demonstrating the causal links between people management and business performance. Many studies describe particular management practices and styles which are claimed to lead to more motivated, or satisfied, or productive employees. However, there are few that apply rigorous, comparative analysis over time to the individual elements of management activity and measure the contribution they make to performance. When the IPD commissioned such an analysis from the Institute of Work Psychology at Sheffield we did not know what the results would show.
We were however aware that in the course of a major ongoing study the Institute had built up extensive and detailed information about a large number of manufacturing companies. This includes material based on lengthy interviews with senior managers about a wide range of company activities, the findings of employee attitude surveys and economic performance data. The study shares some of the characteristics of recent US research in that it focuses on measuring the relationship over time between people management and other managerial inputs, and business performance outputs.
However, it also has some distinctive features: for example, companies are predominantly single site and single product operations, so as to increase the relevance and comparability of the data collected. The measurement framework is also extremely comprehensive. It is necessary to spell out this background because the results of the study are so remarkable. They show decisively that people management practices have a powerful impact on performance.
Whether performance is measured in terms of productivity – which might be expected to have stronger links with the way in which companies manage their people – or profitability, in both cases the effect is substantial. Even more dramatic are the comparisons with other management practices, including use of competitive strategies, quality focus and investment in research and development. None of these other management practices appear to have anything like the same effect on performance as people management. The study looked additionally at employee satisfaction and commitment, and organisational culture.
The findings here underline the general message that it is how companies manage their employees that is crucial to business success. In the Institute’s view these findings deserve the widest possible audience. They are not just relevant to people management practitioners but also to line managers, boards of directors and investors. What should companies do to raise their performance? The answer strongly suggested by this research is to look first at how they manage their people. -vii- Prelims. p65 7 16/06/03, 15:27
There is of course no single model of good practice that all firms should adopt: this research does not imply that there is. The list of practices identified and measured in the course of this study ranges from selection and recruitment through appraisal and team working to incentive compensation systems. However, the findings do show two ‘clusters’ of practices that are particularly significant: • acquisition and development of employee skills (including selection, induction, training and use of appraisals); • job design (including skill flexibility, job responsibility, variety and use of formal teams).
These factors would generally be seen as important elements in ‘progressive’ or ‘high performance’ work practices. Are such progressive people management practices the only route to enhanced business performance? It is a fact of life that some companies are profitable despite making little or no use of such practices. These companies may possibly be in production sectors where jobs require little input from the employee other than sustained effort; or in small service operations competing on price rather than quality.
However, where businesses face international competition; where they are committed to excellence and quality standards; where creativity and innovation are essential to moving the business forward – employee commitment and a positive ‘psychological contract’ between employer and employee are fundamental to improving performance. This message emerges loud and clear from the findings of this report. This research is not the end of the road in terms of researching the link between people management and business performance.
Essentially, this study relies on statistical techniques to paint a picture which has wide validity. Other approaches, such as case studies, will be needed if we are to put flesh on the bones and get a better understanding of the casual links between practice and performance and how they work in specific contexts. The findings of this study deserve a wide audience. They should be of interest to all those concerned with raising the performance of organisations in the United Kingdom, and with increasing our national competitiveness. Mike Emmott IPD Policy Adviser (Employee Relations) viii- Prelims. p65 8 16/06/03, 15:27 Executive Summary What factors most influence company performance? In the latter half of the twentieth century, a litany in many companies has been ‘our employees are our most valuable resource’. This rhetoric has been so often repeated that it is now a cliche. Despite this, many small and medium sized enterprises still neglect to invest resources, time and creativity in the management of people within organisations (West, Lawthom, Patterson and Staniforth, 1996). But the two assumptions of this position need to be carefully tested.
These are: that people are the most valuable resource of an organisation, and that the management of people makes a difference to company performance. In this report, we address these assumptions directly. But rather than focusing simply on the traditional question of whether and which human resource management practices most affect performance, we ask four central questions: 1 Is there any relationship between employee attitudes (job satisfaction and commitment to their organisations) and the performance of their companies? Does organisational culture predict the subsequent performance of organisations?
Do human resource management practices make a difference to company performance and, if so, which of these practices appear most important? How do other managerial practices, such as competitive strategies, emphasis on quality, investment in research and development, and investment in technology, compare in terms of their influence upon company performance with the influence of human resource management practices? 2 3 4 Our fundamental aim in this report is to aid managers in determining where to direct their efforts in order to have most impact upon the performance of their companies.
We have drawn upon data gathered from an intensive ongoing tenyear study of over a hundred small and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises in the United Kingdom. These data provide a clear picture of the links between various managerial practices and company performance. Question 1: Do employee attitudes predict company performance? • Job satisfaction explains 5 per cent of the variation between companies in change in profitability after controlling for prior profit. Organisational commitment also explains 5 per cent of the variation. In relation to change in productivity, job satisfaction explains 16 per cent of the variation between companies in their subsequent change in performance. Organisational commitment explains some 7 per cent of the variation. These results demonstrate the relationship between employee attitudes and company performance. They suggest that managers of organisations eager to promote productivity and profitability should pay close attention to the attitudes -ix- Prelims. p65 9 16/06/03, 15:27 of their employees and how they can be influenced to be more positive.
The results demonstrate that the more satisfied workers are with their jobs the better the company is likely to perform in terms of subsequent profitability and particularly productivity. Question 2: Does organisational culture significantly predict variation between companies in their performance, and if so, which aspects of culture appear most important? • Cultural factors accounted for some 10 per cent of the variation in profitability between companies between the two periods measured during the study. The variable which most explained change in profitability was concern for employee welfare. In relation to change in productivity, the results were even more striking. We can explain some 29 per cent of the variation between companies in change in productivity over a 3 or 4 year period in human relations terms. This is clear confirmation of the importance of organisational culture in relation to company performance. Concern for employee welfare was by far and away the most significant predictor. Question 3: Do human resource management practices explain variation between companies in profit and productivity? When we examine change in profitability after controlling for prior profitability, the results reveal that human resource management (HRM) practices taken together explain 19 per cent of the variation between companies in change in profitability. Job design (flexibility and responsibility of shopfloor jobs) and acquisition and development of skills (selection, induction, training and appraisal) explain a significant amount of the variation. This demonstrates the importance of HRM practices. • In relation to productivity, HRM practices taken together account for 18 per cent of the variation between companies in change in productivity.
Job design and acquisition and development of skills explain a significant proportion of the variation. This is the most convincing demonstration of which we are aware in the research literature of the link between the management of people and the performance of companies. Question 4: Which managerial practices are most important in predicting company performance? Given that most of the analyses that we have conducted indicate very strong relationships between employee attitudes, organisational culture, HRM practices and company performance, it is reasonable to ask ‘What factors do not account for significant variation between companies? . Another way of putting this question is ‘which managerial practice are most important in explaining variation between companies in performance? ’. In order to answer this question we identified four areas of managerial practices which have traditionally been thought to influence company performance. These are business strategy, emphasis on quality, use of -x- Prelims. p65 10 16/06/03, 15:27 advanced manufacturing technology and research and development investment. • The results reveal that strategy explains 2 per cent of the change in profitability in companies and less than 3 per cent of the change in productivity in companies.
These results are not statistically significant. • Emphasis on quality explains less than 1 per cent of the change in profitability within companies over time and less than 1 per cent of the change in productivity. Of course it may be that these factors explain more of the variation between companies over a longer period of time, but as yet we have no data which bear upon this. • Emphasis on, and sophistication of, technology explains only 1 per cent of the variation between companies in change in productivity over time, and 1 per cent of the variation between companies in change in profitability. Expenditure and emphasis on Research and Development accounts for 6 per cent of the variation in productivity, though this is not a statistically significant finding. It also accounts for 8 per cent of the variation in change in profitability between companies. Compared with these four domains (R&D, technology, quality and strategy) HRM practices, which explain 18 per cent of the variation in productivity and 19 per cent of the variation in profitability in companies, are the more powerful predictors of change in company performance.
Overall, these results very clearly indicate the importance of people management practices in predicting company performance. The results are unique, since no similar study has been conducted which compares the influence of different managerial practices upon performance. The results suggest that, if managers wish to influence the performance of their companies, the most important area they should emphasise is the management of people. This is ironic, given that our research has also demonstrated that emphasis on HRM is one of the most neglected areas of managerial practice within organisations. The implications are clear. -xi- Prelims. p65 1 16/06/03, 15:27 Chapter 1 The Study Background What factors most influence company performance and what can managers do to ensure the effectiveness of their companies? The answers to these questions are, in reality, complex because of the vast number of factors that may influence company performance. These include external factors such as market share and market environment, as well as internal company factors including organisational culture, management styles and human resource management practices. Recently, the increasing level of competition worldwide has led managers and researchers to focus even more sharply on these questions.
Reducing labour costs in some countries, particularly in the newly industrialising countries, has raised the level of competitive threat for countries which have been industrialised for some time. There is an increased capacity for diversity and customisation inherent in microprocessor-based technologies, eliminating the cost advantage of mass production. Companies must now compete on the basis of cost, quality and customisation. The pressures on managers to manage the complex and varied influences on company performance are greater than ever before.
The research The research reported here draws from the work of the Sheffield Effectiveness Programme, based jointly at the Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics and the Institute of Work Psychology at the University of Sheffield1. This ten year longitudinal study (1991-2001) examines market environment, organisational characteristics and managerial practices in over a hundred UK manufacturing companies. The overall aim of the research programme is to determine what factors principally influence company effectiveness.
These factors are empirically related to company financial performance. The following data are collected: • Economic performance data are gathered annually from 1990 to 2000. • Every two years, senior managers in these companies are re-interviewed on site, for a period of one to two days. Areas covered in the interview include: organisational structure, market environment, competitive strategies, production technology, work design, quality emphasis, ‘Just-in-Time’ practices, human resource management, and research and development. Over half of the companies participated in employee attitude and organisational culture surveys in the first wave of data collection. Questionnaires are distributed to all or a large sample of staff (Lawthom, Patterson, West and Maitlis, 1997). These explore employee attitudes to 15 areas of company functioning, including innovation, training, concern for employee welfare, performance pressure and formalisation, as well as measuring employee job satisfaction and organisational commitment. 1- Chap1. p65 1 16/06/03, 15:23 Sample and data collection The sampling strategy required that companies were predominantly single site and single product operations, with less than a thousand employees. These three criteria were adopted for two important methodological reasons. The first of these concerns our research strategy of attempting to describe managerial practices within an organisation in particular domains (eg performance appraisal) by a single summated description.
Previously researchers have characterised managerial practices in this way in both large and small organisations, using broad, global descriptions. This ignores the fact that such organisations may span several divisions, sites and product types, and that managerial practices in one area may be quite dissimilar from those in others. The second reason for seeking specificity of organisational type is because comparison of changes within and across organisations over time requires that the organisational types studied are relatively comparable.
This particularly relates to size of organisations. Manufacturing companies throughout the United Kingdom were identified from sector data bases. In addition, a number of companies were identified by local Chambers of Commerce and Trade Associations. Companies from four manufacturing sectors were approached: mechanical engineering, plastics and rubber processing, electrical and electronic engineering, and food and drink, and a small number of companies from other sectors were included in a miscellaneous category.
Analysis of the 1988–1992 ratio of labour productivity within firms to labour productivity within the industry, reveals that firms in the sample are similarly productive to the typical firm in the industry2. The data used in the analysis described here relate to 67 UK manufacturing firms3. For 36 of them, we also have employee ratings of organisational culture. The companies range in size from 60 to 1000 employees, averaging 253. The interviewees Interviews were carried out with senior managers in each of the organisations which elected to participate in the Sheffield Effectiveness Programme.
Usually four or five senior managers participated in the interviews, including the chief executive of the company, production director/manager and often the finance director and human resources director/manager (where there was one). Interviews always took place at the site of company production and in all cases coincided with a tour of the production areas by the researchers. Interviewers were all qualified industrial/organisational psychologists who had received a minimum of two weeks training in administering the interview schedule. All interviews were audio taped.
Full details of the content of the interviews can be found in a report produced by West, Patterson, Lawthom, Maitlis and Nicolitsas (1997). Both prior to and during company visits, researchers sought examples of documentation from senior managers in order that, for example, responses about the existence of strategies relating to HRM, training, equal opportunities, appraisal or quality could be validated by reference to formalised documents produced by the organisations. This material was also used to inform interviewers’ judgements about organisational functioning and managerial practices. 2- Chap1. p65 2 16/06/03, 15:23 On each visit interviewers toured the production plant in order to observe production processes, the technology employed, job design (eg employee autonomy), job cycle time, quality feedback mechanisms, JIT practices, staff facilities, emphasis on safety, etc. These factory tours provided important observational data about the functioning of the companies, which enabled researchers to validate or moderate the responses of managers to the questions posed during the interview.
They also provided very important data which enabled interviewers to make judgements about managerial practices and organisational practices from their observations of the shop floor. Company performance Three main sources of information are used to determine company performance: • company accounts • management accounts • Central Statistical Office database. The following measures are used in this report: 1 Labour productivity in the firm relative to the industry to which the firm belongs: this is defined as the ratio of sales over employment in the firm, divided by the ratio of sales over employment in the industry.
Real profits per employee: this is profits before tax, deflated by the producer price index of the industry to which the firm belongs and controlling for size of firm (based on the number of employees). 2 Performance data for two time periods are employed: 1 Subsequent performance: this is the firm’s productivity and profitability for the year following measurement of HRM practices, culture and employee attitudes. Prior performance: this is the average of the firm’s productivity and profitability for the three years prior to measurement of HRM practices, culture and attitudes. We employ two data analysis strategies to investigate the relationship between people management and performance. First, we relate HRM practices, culture and attitudes to subsequent profitability and productivity. Second, we investigate whether higher levels of HRM practices, culture and attitudes are positively related to an increase in performance, by controlling for prior performance when predicting subsequent performance. -3- Chap1. p65 3 16/06/03, 15:23 Organisational culture and employee attitudes
Each company participating in the interviews was offered the opportunity to have an organisational culture survey carried out in their companies. Thirty-six of the companies covered by this report participated, providing responses from 3,500 employees. In most companies, 100 per cent of employees were surveyed, though in companies with more than 500 employees, a 60 per cent random sample was taken. A questionnaire tapping 15 culture dimensions, plus job satisfaction and organisational commitment was sent or handed to employees on site.
Further details are available in Lawthom, Patterson, West, and Maitlis (1997). A response rate in excess of 50 per cent was achieved. -4- Chap1. p65 4 16/06/03, 15:23 Chapter 2 Employee attitudes and performance Question 1: Do employee attitudes predict company performance? If even a small percentage of the variation in organisational performance can be explained by employee attitudes, then managers are likely to take considerable interest in the factors that influence employee attitudes.
On the other hand, if there is no link between employee attitudes and organisational performance, then those charged with running organisations may well argue that concerns about job satisfaction, for example, are moral and ideological rather than economic issues. Researchers have traditionally directed most effort towards examining the relationship between attitudes and individual job performance, particularly focusing upon the impact of job satisfaction. The results of a considerable amount of research indicate that there is a relationship, but that it is somewhat weak.
Nevertheless, it has been widely argued over the last 40 years that job satisfaction and employee attitudes are likely to be associated with better organisational performance, on the basis that satisfied workers are likely to work harder than dissatisfied workers. These ideological assumptions about relationships between employee attitudes and company performance are so deeply embedded in the work of organisational scientists that, in many cases, they are taken for granted rather than subjected to critical scrutiny.
The evidence of previous research is fairly clear in indicating a weak but significant association between job satisfaction, organisational commitment and individual job performance (Iaffaldano and Muchinsky, 1985; Mathieu and Zajac, 1990). At the organisational level there have been no studies examining relationships between job satisfaction, organisational commitment and company performance. In the present study job satisfaction and organisational commitment were measured by scales widely used in organisational research (Cook and Wall, 1980; Warr, Cook, and Wall, 1979).
Job satisfaction was assessed by 15 items tapping various aspects of work. Employees rated their level of satisfaction with the following features: fellow team members, autonomy to choose work method, job variety, physical working conditions, immediate boss, pay, management worker relations, the way the firm is managed, hours of work, job security, recognition for good work, job responsibility, opportunity to use ability, chances of promotion and attention paid to suggestions.
Organisational commitment was measured by a nine-item scale, tapping three interrelated components of employee commitment: identification with, involvement in and loyalty toward the company. A sample statement is ‘I feel myself to be part of this company’. Employee attitudes were measured in 1994 and 1995. The average of employee job satisfaction and organisational commitment was used for each company and these averages were used to predict company performance. Regression analyses4 were compiled to determine the extent to which employee attitudes predicted subsequent profitability and productivity. -5- Chap2. p65 5 16/06/03, 15:23 The results, depicted in Figure 1, reveal that 12 per cent of the variation between companies in their profitability can be explained by variations in the job satisfaction of their employees. Moreover, 13 per cent of the variation between companies in their profitability can be explained by differences between companies in organisational commitment5. • Some 25 per cent of the variation in subsequent productivity of companies can be explained by job satisfaction of employees, after controlling for size and unionisation. In comparison, 17 per cent of the variation in company productivity is explained by organisational commitment (Figure 1).
When both organisational commitment and job satisfaction are examined together, it is job satisfaction which emerges as the most significant predictor of variation between companies in their subsequent performance. Figure 1: Do employee attitudes predict change in company peformance? The immediate rebuttal of these findings is the argument that positive employee attitudes are a consequence of the company’s previous good performance. In effect, the reason that job satisfaction predicts subsequent profitability and productivity is simply because the company’s prior performance was either good or bad, thus influencing employee attitudes.
This argument suggests that the real link is between prior profitability and subsequent profitability, or prior productivity and subsequent productivity. In order to address this concern, the analyses were rerun and the effect of prior profitability and productivity (taking the average performance figures for each of the companies over the previous three years) were -6- Chap2. p65 6 16/06/03, 15:23 controlled in each regression equation. In other words, the effects of prior profitability and productivity were taken out from the analysis.
This is a very conservative test, since all we have left to explain the difference between a company’s prior and subsequent performance is to see if that difference can be partially accounted for by job satisfaction and organisational commitment. • Figure 2 reveals that job satisfaction explains 5 per cent of the variation between companies in change in profitability. Organisational commitment also explains 5 per cent. • In relation to change in productivity, job satisfaction explains 16 per cent of the variation between companies in their change in performance.
Organisational commitment explains some 7 per cent of the variation (Figure 2). Figure 2: Do employee attitudes predict change in company performance, taking account of prior company performance? Figure 2 demonstrates the relationship between employee attitudes and company performance. Companies with high levels of satisfaction and commitment show increased performance in terms of profitability and productivity. They suggest that organisations eager to promote productivity and profitability should pay attention to the attitudes of their employees and how they can be influenced to be more positive.
The results suggest that the more satisfied workers are with their jobs, the better is the company likely to perform in terms of profitability and particularly productivity. -7- Chap2. p65 7 16/06/03, 15:23 Chapter 3 Organisational culture and performance Question 2: Does organisational culture significantly predict variation between companies in their performance, and if so, which aspects of culture appear most important? Organisational culture is interpreted here as the aggregate of employees’ perceptions of aspects of the organisation, for example, quality of communication, support for innovation, level of supervisory support and so on.
It is a concept which has attracted considerable interest among practitioners. Increasingly, senior managers are commissioning employee attitude surveys in response to the enormous volume of research on organisational culture and the related concept of climate (for example, Rousseau, 1988, Schneider, 1987, Woodman and Pasmore, 1991), the assumption being that culture influences performance. However, the evidence for the influence of culture upon organisational productivity is limited. Measuring culture
The development of an Organisational Culture Indicator followed a review of the organisational culture literature, in which particular attention was given to the instruments that have been most commonly used in its measurement. This search established that there was no existing tool which adequately met our requirements for a comprehensive, up-to-date measure, easily completed by all levels of the workforce. Through the review process we were able to identify the cultural dimensions most frequently assessed in organisations and deemed important in this extensively researched field.
A parallel search of literature on current manufacturing practice highlighted other areas less traditionally examined in culture research, but which we thought relevant in capturing critical aspects of organisational culture in the 1990s manufacturing sector. Examples of such domains were: pressure to produce – which commentators suggest is a natural concomitant of advanced technologies (eg Klein, 1991); quality – an important concept in the new manufacturing paradigm and ‘world class manufacturing’ (eg Schonberger, 1986); and flexibility – a central feature of new forms of work organisation (eg Dean and Snell, 1991).
In addition, a review of the organisational effectiveness literature helped us to identify Quinn and Rohrbaugh’s Competing Values Model (1981), which served as an important guide in our work. By using this model, we were able to locate in a sound theoretical framework the cultural dimensions identified as important from the literature reviews described above. Further, it drove us to consider elements of culture that had not immediately been suggested by the literature, but which we believed were likely to relate to long-term organisational effectiveness.
Examples here include: reviewing objectives – the ability of organisations to review and change processes and procedures (eg West, 1996); vision – the extent to which organisational members can clearly articulate the way forward; and performance -8- Chap3. p65 8 16/06/03, 15:24 feedback – linking behaviour with goal setting and feedback (eg Pritchard, 1990). Described below is the competing values model and the cultural scales written to reflect each model. Human relations model The primary emphasis is on norms and values associated with belonging, trust nd participation. Motivational factors are attachment, cohesiveness and group membership. Cultural dimensions linked to this are: concern for employee welfare – the extent to which employees feel valued and trusted; autonomy – designing jobs in ways which give employees wide scope to enact work; emphasis on training – a concern with developing employee skills; and supervisory support. Open systems model The primary emphasis is on change and innovation, where norms and values are associated with growth, resource acquisition, creativity and adaptation.
Motivating factors are growth, variety, stimulation. Cultural dimensions which reflect this orientation are: outward focus – where the organisation is attuned to the external environment; flexibility; innovation; and reviewing objectives – a concern with reviewing and reflecting upon progress in order to improve (West, 1996). Rational goal model The primary emphasis in this model is on the pursuit and attainment of welldefined objectives, where norms and values are associated with productivity, performance, goal fulfilment and achievement.
Motivators are competition and successful achievement of predetermined ends. Cultural dimensions which reflect this model are: vision – a concern with clearly defining where the organisation is heading; emphasis on quality; pressure to produce – where employees feel pressured to meet targets and deadlines; and performance feedback – where clear feedback is available for employees about their job performance. Internal process model The emphasis is on stability, internal organisation and adherence to rules, where norms and values are associated with efficiency, co-ordination and uniformity.
Motivating factors are needs for security, order and rules and regulations. Scales which reflect this model are: formalisation – a concern with formal (often written) rules and procedures; efficiency; and tradition – a concern with maintaining existing policies, practices and procedures. Definitions and examples of the organisational culture dimensions are shown in the Appendix p26. Figure 3 illustrates the relationship between the two main dimensions, the four models of effectiveness and the cultural dimensions which were linked to these four models. -9- Chap3. p65 16/06/03, 15:24 Figure 3: Competing values framework Toward decentralisation/differentiation INTERNAL FOCUS Human Relations (Toward development of human resources) Concern for employee welfare Training Autonomy Supervisory support Internal Process (Toward consolidation/equilibrium) Efficiency Tradition Formalisation EXTERNAL FOCUS Open Systems (Toward expansion/transformation) Outward focus Reviewing objectives Flexibility Innovation Rational Goal (Toward maximisation of output) Vision Pressure to produce Quality Performance feedback INTERNAL FOCUS EXTERNAL FOCUS
Toward centralisation/integration Based on: Quinn, R. E. and Rohrbaugh, J. ‘A competing values approach to organisational effectiveness’. Public Productivity Review, 5, 1981 122–140. In order to answer research question 2, we examined the extent to which factors within each of the four quadrants could explain subseqent profitability and productivity controlling for prior profitability and productivity (ie we examined change in performance). In other words, we took an extremely conservative approach to determining whether organisational culture was a predictor of company performance.
First, we examined the influence of factors in the internal process quadrant, particularly examining whether emphasis on tradition, formalisation and efficiency were predictors of change in company profit and change in company productivity6. • Figure 4 shows that these factors accounted for 7 per cent of the variation between companies in change in profitability. This is not statistically significant. • 11 per cent of the variation between companies in change in productivity was explained by tradition, formalisation and efficiency.
Again, this is not statistically significant. Second, we examined dimensions in the open systems quadrant (ie, outward focus, innovation, flexibility and reviewing objectives). • The open systems quadrant explained some 3 per cent of the variation between companies in change in profitability. • Change in productivity, outward focus, innovation and reviewing objectives -10- Chap3. p65 10 16/06/03, 15:24 Figure 4: Does organisational culture predict change in company performance? ogether explained a non-significant 9 per cent of the variation between companies in change in productivity. Next, we examined the influence of factors in the rational goal quadrant of our model. This reflects the emphasis upon quality, pressure to perform, performance feedback and clarity of vision within the organisations. • Although 8 per cent of the variation between companies in change in profitability could be accounted for by these factors, this was not a statistically significant finding. However, when we examined change in productivity, some 21 per cent of the variation between companies could be accounted for. In particular, emphasis upon performance feedback was a significant positive predictor of change in productivity. Finally we examined the influence of dimensions in the human relations quadrant of the competing values model and here the results are more striking than any previously examined. Factors examined were supervisory support, autonomy, -11- Chap3. p65 11 16/06/03, 15:24 training and concern for employee welfare. Taken together, these factors accounted for some 10 per cent of the variation between companies in change in profitability between the two periods measured during our study. However this result was not statistically significant. • In relation to change in productivity in the companies we examined, the results were clear. We can explain some 29 per cent of the variation between companies in change in productivity over a three- or four-year period in human relations dimensions which is confirmation of the importance of culture in relation to company performance.
Emphasis on concern for employee welfare was the most significant predictor. One further step in the analysis was taken in order to determine which of the four quadrants was most important in predicting change in profitability and productivity (controlling for past performance). Accordingly an average score was computed for each company in relation to each of the four quadrants – human relations, internal process, rational goal and open systems. Here we simply took an average score within the four quadrants, collapsing the data across scales, and thus reducing statistical power.
The relative importance of each quadrant revealed the following order: human relations, internal process, rational goal and open systems. When we tried to predict change in company profitability from the four quadrants, we found that the human relations quadrant emerged as the only significant predictor. In relation to variation between companies in change in productivity, again the human relations quadrant accounted for the most variation. Indeed, as with profitability, this was the only quadrant which emerged as a significant predictor.
Again, it seems that an emphasis on people factors is most important in trying to account for productivity change. This makes sense in terms of what we might predict. It is employees within companies who bring about changes in productivity and how they are managed in terms of concern for employee welfare, emphasis on supervisory support, social support, etc, is likely to be critical. -12- Chap3. p65 12 16/06/03, 15:24 Chapter 4 Human resource management practices and performance Question 3: Do human resource management practices explain variation between companies in profit and productivity?
In the 1990s, research literature in the organisational sciences has been dominated by the question of whether HRM practices make a difference to company performance. There is now a considerable body of work proposing that high quality people management can provide firms with a source of competitive advantage that it is difficult for competitors to imitate. It is the management of human capital, rather than physical capital, that is seen as the most important determinant of company performance. Indeed, some studies in the United States have demonstrated a relationship between HRM and performance (eg Huselid, 1995; MacDuffie, 1995).
However, the research described here is a progression from previous HRM and performance research in three ways. First, we did not rely on postal questionnaires to gather data on HRM practices, but instead employed face-to-face in-depth interviews with senior management. The validity of the data was further enhanced by the collation of formalised documentation from senior managers, so that responses about the existence of practices relating to, for example, appraisal systems or training and development could be validated.
Also, the researchers toured the company site observing practices and procedures in action, and talking to employees about their experiences. Second, we also assessed other company practices (eg quality emphasis, investment in computerised technology) to investigate their differential impact on company performance when compared to HRM practices. Third, we know of no other work in the UK that relates HRM practices to company financial performance. Although, there are differences across commentators as to what constitutes ‘good’ HRM practices, many writers (eg Bailey, 1993; Guest, 1997; Huselid, 1995) have argued that HRM ractices can improve company performance by: • increasing employee skills and abilities • promoting positive attitudes and increasing motivation • providing employees with expanded responsibilities so that they can make full use of their skills and abilities. The three causal routes from HRM to performance described above provide a basis for determining ‘good’ or ‘high performance’ HRM practices. HRM practices can influence employee skills through the use of valid selection methods to hire appropriately skilled employees and through comprehensive training to develop current employees. 13- Chap4. p65 13 16/06/03, 15:24 Examples of HRM practices that may encourage the development of a committed and motivated workforce include the use of performance-related pay or high levels of basic pay. We might also expect that more positive employee attitudes will result from a policy of harmonisation (reduction of differences in terms and conditions between managers and workers, such as a shift from hourly to salaried compensation) and from employee involvement (such as through extensive communication to all employees and the use of quality improvement teams).
Finally, firms can make full use of a skilled and motivated workforce by promoting job designs which provide enriched jobs for employees in terms of variety, skill flexibility and increased autonomy, whereby employees have responsibility for such activities as problem solving, maintenance, scheduling and quality assurance. The use of work teams may also positively affect productivity.
The HRM practices examined in this study are shown in Table 1 and broadly reflect the high performance practices discussed in the research literature. The practices were assessed through in-depth interviews with senior management using a semistructured interview schedule, supported by relevant documentation and tours of the workplace. Table 1: Human resource management variables
HRM area Selection and recruitment Measurement dimensions Sophistication of processes (eg use of psychometric tests, clear criteria for selection) Sophistication in running and evaluating induction programmes for new employees Sophistication and coverage of training Coherence and coverage of appraisal system Flexibility of workforce skills Variety in shop-floor jobs (eg job rotation) Responsibility in shop-floor jobs for various tasks and problem solving Use of formal teams Frequency and comprehensiveness of communication to workforce (eg newsletter, briefing groups, meetings between top management and workforce) Use of quality improvement teams Extent of harmonised terms and conditions Extent to which basic pay is higher or lower than competitors Use of individual or group incentive compensation (eg, merit pay) Induction Training Appraisal Skill flexibility Job variety Job responsibility Teamworking Communication Quality improvement teams Harmonisation Comparative pay Incentive compensation systems -14- Chap4. p65 14 16/06/03, 15:24
Many writers (eg, Huselid, 1995; MacDuffie, 1995) have argued that it makes sense to assess systems of HRM practices rather than focus on individual practices. The logic behind this proposition is that firm performance will be enhanced by systems of practices that support each other and that have a mutually reinforcing effect on employee contributions to company performance. For example, the effectiveness of a comprehensive training programme may be increased when combined with appraisals to assess employee performance and target development needs. Using the statistical technique of factor analysis, we tested whether any of the HRM practices were interrelated to the extent that they appear to be measuring the same underlying dimension and therefore could be grouped together.
The analysis revealed that the following practices converged to reveal underlying dimensions: 1 Selection, induction, training and use of appraisals represented one factor which we termed ‘acquisition and development of employee skills’. Skill flexibility, job responsibility, job variety and use of formal teams were also interrelated and we termed this factor ‘job design’. 2 In subsequent regression analyses we therefore used the composite measures of job design and acquisition and development of employee skills, rather than the individual practices comprising these dimensions. Figure 5 shows the results of the regression analysis relating HRM practices to change in profitability and productivity in the companies in the study. Figure 5: Do HRM practices predict change in company performance? -15- Chap4. p65 15 16/06/03, 15:24 The results reveal that HRM practices taken together accounted for 19 per cent of the variation between companies in change in profitability (ie, subsequent profitability controlling for prior profitability). This is statistically significant. • When we examine change in productivity, HRM practices together account for 18 per cent of the variation between companies in the change in productivity over the time period of our study. This is a clear demonstration of the link between the management of people and the performance of companies. Figures 6 and 7 opposite show which particular HRM factors predict change in company profitability and productivity. The results reveal that acquisition and development of skills (selection, induction, training and appraisal) and job design (job variety and responsibility, skill flexibility and teamworking) are significant predictors of both change in profitability and change in productivity. -16- Chap4. p65 16 16/06/03, 15:24 Figure 6 : HRM factors predicting change in profits Figure 7: HRM factors predicting change in productivity The arrows indicate the significant associations. The numbers indicate the size of the relationship – the larger the number, the stronger the association – and also indicate whether it is positive or negative. The asterisks indicate the degree of statistical significance, more asterisks indicating greater significance (*p
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