Since the early 1990s, human resource management (HRM) scholars have sought to specify the link between high performing HRM practices and both individual and firm performance (Becker and Huselid, 2006; Huselid, 1995). This strategic HRM (SHRM) literature has found that organizations practicing SHRM not only increase performance but also decrease employee turnover (Arthur, 1994; Huselid, 1995; Lepak and Snell, 2002). At the organizational level, the dollars saved and earned through reduced turnover and increased productivity demonstrate the utility of SHRM systems (Ichniowski et al., 1997). When organizations utilize SHRM, integrating HRM systems, and aligning HRM systems with organizational goals (Huselid, 1995), they place a premium on developing cutting edge practices that retain employees with the best skills and highest levels of motivation (Barney, 1991).
Arthur outlines differences between SHRM perspectives, finding that SHRM "control" systems, which are designed to enforce "employee compliance with specified rules and procedures" (1994: 671), lead to increased turnover and decreased performance. On the other hand, SHRM "commitment" systems, which "shape desired employee behaviors and attitudes by forging psychological links between organizational and employee goals" (Arthur, 1994: 671), result in decreased employee turnover and increased performance. As further empirical research has bolstered these findings (i.e., Huselid, 1995; Ichniowski et al., 1997; Lepak and Snell, 2002), it becomes increasingly important to understand how SHRM effectiveness enhances the critical psychological links between employees and organizations. Moreover, several SHRM researchers have called for explicit examinations of these psychological links not only at the organization level but at the individual level (Becker and Huselid, 2006; Gerhart, 2005).
One individual-level factor that can help to explain the psychological impact of SHRM practices is job embeddedness (JE), which Mitchell, Holtom, Lee, Sablynski, and Erez (2001b) validate and use to explain how employees become psychologically and socially enmeshed within the organization and community in which the organization operates. Hailed as an "anti-withdrawal" theory (Holtom et al., 2006; Mitchell et al., 2001b), JE describes the psychological forces that act "like a net or a web in which an individual can become stuck" (Mitchell et al., 2001b: 1104); moreover, the process of becoming embedded influences turnover intentions that lead to voluntary turnover (Allen, 2006). Importantly, JE explains unique variability of these important outcomes beyond the effects of job satisfaction and organizational commitment (Mitchell et al., 200lb; Lee et al., 2004). However, because JE has emerged as the most recent construct to explain employee turnover decisions, researchers have much to discover about the full potential of JE as an important variable in HRM. That is, HRM scholars have yet to determine how SHRM effectiveness can build employee JE as a means to develop the critical psychological links between employees and organizations.
Although a direct relationship between H RM practices and J E appeals intuitively to many HRM scholars (Allen, 2006), proponents of social exchange theory (Blau, 1964) consistently demonstrate the important role that individual-to-individual interactions play in human behavior at work (Cropanzano and Mitchell, 2005). In terms of organizations, researchers consistently find that leader-member exchange (LMX) relationships more proximally predict employee turnover intentions (Gerstner and Day, 1997) than does support from the organization (e.g., HRM), which tends to predict employee job satisfaction and commitment (Settoon et al., 1996). In terms of understanding how HRM effectiveness influences employee JE, the inclusion of direct LMX relationships should either enhance or inhibit the effectiveness of an organization's HRM processes to capitalize on the benefits of employee JE. …