Academic journal article Global Business and Management Research: An International Journal

A Discussion on HPWS Perception and Employee Behavior

Academic journal article Global Business and Management Research: An International Journal

A Discussion on HPWS Perception and Employee Behavior

Article excerpt


High performance work systems (HPWS), has its roots to HR practices closely related with the Japanese production systems, most significantly the lean system of Toyota, documented extensively in the book titled "the machine that changed the world" written by Womack, Jones and Roos in 1990 (Chaudhuri 2008).A number of terms had often been used interchangeably to describe HPWS- high performance work organization (Ashton and Sung, 2004), high involvement work systems (Felstead and Gallie, 2002), high performance employment systems (Brown and Reich, 1997) and high commitment management (Wood, 1999; Baird, 2002) or as high performance management HPM (Butler et al 2004). The study on HPWS in both western and nonwestern settings including other developing economies (Lawler et al 2000, Bae and Lawler 2000). In this paper some basic issues regarding HPWS and its impact on employee behavior has been discussed. This paper has particularly focused on the negative impacts of work place and job stressors and job or work intensity in HPWS workplaces and how these perceptions of the employees could relate different forms of employee commitments.

Dilemmas in HR practices and policies in HPWS

There had been considerable lack of consensus as to what constitutes HPWS like Becker and Gerhart (1996), Youndt (1996) and the problem persisted till date (David Lepak et al 2006). There had been some conflicts in conceptualizations of the usages of same HR practices in different HR systems increasing confusions in reader's mind. Most of these HR practices known as the soft approach or the Harvard model in HRM (Beer et al 1984) or the best practices as "development humanism" Guest (1999), were all conceptually found to be similar to Japanese people management systems. Huselid (1995) developed 13 best HR practices as "high performance work practices" and later Pfeffer (1998) outlined seven best practices similar to these practices which had a resemblance to the Harvard model. The commitment oriented HR systems consist of practices such as intensive training and development, socialization, promotion from within, high compensation, selective staffing to forge a stronger psychological connection between employees and organizations. (David Lepak et al 2006).

Similarly authors like Osterman (1994), McDuffie (1995) Zacharatos, et al (2005) used high intensity oriented HR practices focusing the use of formal or self directed teams, employee involvement participatory groups, and product-related suggestions made and implemented by employees, job rotation and carrying out quality tasks. 'flexible work systems' employee problem-solving groups (or quality circles), and total quality management overall empowering employees through increased flow of information and devolution of decisions making power, leading to greater productivity. HPWS comprises both these high involvement and high commitment HR practices and lean operations (Mcduffie,1995).

Several researchers have used these conceptualizations interchangeably (Wood & de Menezes, 1998; Zacharatos et al. 2005). They had reached to a consensus that the ultimate objective of commitment, or involvement in high performance work system or some other HR systems are the same the productivity and profitability of the organization. Belanger et al (2002) have sought to justify some of the conceptual confusions surrounding high performance work system through a) Production management: which involves the greater use of flexible production systems with an emphasis of quality b) Work organization which involves the use of production processes based on knowledge and cognition, especially the use of teamwork and c) Employee relations: harnessing of employee commitment in the service of the organization. He theorized that high performance work systems practices were to be implemented in a "bundle" in order to get the maximum results. Without the supports of the similar practices the implementation of a single high performance practice may achieve little or may become counterproductive. …

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