Academic journal article Research and Practice in Human Resource Management

HRM Practices and Perceived Service Quality: The Role of Trust as a Mediator

Academic journal article Research and Practice in Human Resource Management

HRM Practices and Perceived Service Quality: The Role of Trust as a Mediator

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

The value of linkage research is in its ability to recognise the organisational practices that are the most important drivers of customer satisfaction in a specific organisation. Human Resources Management (HRM) plays a central role in the exchange relationships between the organisation's management and its employees. Though earlier studies investigated several facets of climate as possible mediators, none of them have examined trust as a mediating variable that affects the relationship between HRM practices and service quality (SQ). In the healthcare industry, as in most other service industries, the interaction between patients and healthcare service providers (professionals and other employees) is an integral part of the service process. Yet, the provided services are highly professional, and the layman cannot always evaluate these services professionally. The current research focused on SQ as was perceived by employees, and examined the relationship between HRM practices, and SQ as well as the mediating role of trust in management in such relations in a healthcare organisation (HCO). The study, which was undertaken within an Israeli HCO that provides health services in the community, evaluated data from 411 employees and managers. The findings suggest that trust in management affects perceived SQ directly, but also mediates the relationship between employee's perceptions of feedback and SQ. These findings are discussed in terms of relativeness for HRM policies and practices in HCOs.

INTRODUCTION

Internal organisational practices and employee perceptions have the potential to impact on customer satisfaction. The value of linkage research is in its ability to recognise the organisational practices that are the most important drivers of customer satisfaction in a specific organisation (Pugh, Dietz, Wiley & Brooks 2002). HRM practices, which play a central role in the exchange relationships between the organisation's management and its employees, are connected to every stage of the employment circle, and through these engagements employees obtain valuable information about the organisation and the way it is managed. These activities show employees, in practice, what is valued in general, and how the organisation views them in particular. When employees deal with customers they bring to the interaction their perceptions of HRM practices (Ulrich, Halbroock, Meder, Stuchlick & Thorpe 1991).

Several studies of service organisations have examined the direct connections between HRM and aspects of SQ (Schneider & Bowen 1993, Peccei & Rosenthal 2001, Humphrey, Ehrich, Kelly, Sandall, Redfern, Morgan & Guest 2003). Indeed, empirical studies of the healthcare industry have evaluated the relationship between HRM practices and aspects of service delivery to patients (Clark 1999, Weech-Maldonado, Dreachslin, Dansky, De Souza & Gatto 2002). These studies have provided findings to suggest that HRM practices are directly related to SQ. However, the results of other research (Ramsay, Scholarios & Harley 2000) suggest that it is more reasonable to assume that these relationships are mediated by employee behaviours, intention, and attitudes. For example, researchers (Huselid 1995, Delaney & Huselid 1996) have already proposed that organisational climate may have a mediating role between HRM and performance. Nevertheless, although earlier studies investigated several facets of climate as possible mediators, none of them examined trust as a mediating variable that affects the relationship between HRM practices and SQ. This lack of interest is surprising given social exchange theory emphasises relationship development over time (Blau 1964), and indicates that a successful social exchange circle involves trust and uncertainty. Therefore, in searching for a mediating link in the chain of organisational practices and employee perceptions, that affect customer satisfaction, the present study will investigate a conceptual model that incorporates the role of trust as a mediator between HRM and SQ in a HCO. …

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