High Performance Working
HPW systems are crucial to success, yet organizations often struggle to understand how to implement them. Although there is a widespread recognition in the academic literature that strategic alignment of bundles of HPW practices is key, what actually happens within organizations does not always reflect this.
Case studies are an obvious means to understand in real-life the adoption of HPW, and explore what influences the beliefs and actions of managers in different circumstances. Case studies also enable us to explore how plans fare in practice and to see the results of the adoption of different practices or systems. They also help us to understand what influences the behavior of managers and Human Resources practitioners, what determines success, what problems are faced and how they are overcome and how the ‘story’ of HPW is told and heard in different contexts.
Specifically, this research set out to understand:
• How decisions by employers to engage with HPW are made;
• How managers and leaders shape and influence practice;
• To explore the practices themselves and how they affect the experience of work;
• To identify barriers to the take-up of HPW and how they are resolved.
The findings strongly suggest that the importance of leaders in making HPW the approach of choice is critical. The willingness and desire of leaders to make a difference, to produce excellence and to do this through people, are the hallmarks of HPW. Human Resources (HR) colleagues and operational managers then help to put these ambitions into practice, a process that can be greatly assisted by a coherent HR strategy. HR functions can help in a range of ways but especially in terms of helping to resolve problems and issues in people management, building the right organizational culture and supporting the business strategy.
The role of human capital as a potential source of a sustainable competitive advantage has been recently the focus of considerable interest in the academic and popular press. The current “terms of art “such as intellectual capital, knowledge work and workers, and high performance work system (HPW) all reflect a new interest in “people” as a source of a competitive advantage, rather than cost to minimized. By extension, intellectual assets and the organizational system that attract, develop and retain them are emerging as significant elements in the strategic decision making. This evolution in the role of human resources (HR) follows directly from the demand of rapidly changing product markets and the corresponding decline of command and control organizational structures. A skilled and motivated workforce providing the speed and flexibility required by new market imperatives has increased the strategic importance of human resources management (HRM) issues at a time when traditional sources of competitive advantage ( quality, technology, economics of scale etc. ) have become easier to imitate. In...