A Multiple-Constituency Model of Effectiveness: An Empirical Examination at the Human Resource Subunit Level

By Tsui, Anne S. | Administrative Science Quarterly, September 1990 | Go to article overview

A Multiple-Constituency Model of Effectiveness: An Empirical Examination at the Human Resource Subunit Level


Tsui, Anne S., Administrative Science Quarterly


A Multiple-Constituency Model of Effectiveness: An Empirical Examination at the Human Resource Subunit Level

Using the human resource (HR) subunit as the focus for assessment, several core postulates of the multiple constituency model of effectiveness were examined empirically. Results supported the theoretical efficacy of the model. First, the relevant constituencies reported by the HR subunits were conceptually meaningful. Second, the subunit's effectiveness was influenced by both its adaptive responses, such as the use of human resource committees and control of employee absenteeism, and environmental context variables, such as assistance from corporate human resource groups and heterogeneity in the demographics of the constituents. Third, different adaptive response variables were associated with the effectiveness assessment of different constituencies, supporting the key postulate that effectiveness models of multiple constituencies are nonequivalent. The paper concludes with many suggestions for future research and conceptual extensions to the multiple-constituency model.

INTRODUCTION

The multiple-constituency (MC) approach has been proposed recently as a viable alternative to the goal and systems approaches for studying and measuring organizational effectiveness (Whetton, 1978; Connolly, Conlon, and Deutsch, 1980; Zammuto, 1982, 1984). While several variants of the MC model exist (Zammuto, 1984), the central tenet across all the variants is that an organization is effective to the extent it satisfies the interests of one or more constituencies associated with the organization. This constituency approach has been the underlying theme of many recent effectiveness studies (e.g., Cameron, 1978, 1984; Whetten, 1978; Rohrbaugh, 1981; Jobson and Schneck, 1982; Miles and Cameron, 1982; Wagner and Schneider, 1987; Ehreth, 1988). Wagner and Schneider (1987) went so far as to propose that the constituency perspective may have utility as a general research frame. Its conceptual appeal notwithstanding, several unresolved empirical issues remain. For example, Salancik (1984) questioned the usefulness of the basic constituency idea, arguing that constituency preferences are essentially nonmeasurable. An empirical examination of the model's core premises and propositions would be useful to advance the model's utility as a viable framework for studying and assessing organizational effectiveness. There are two basic components to MC models, one descriptive (how things work) and the other normative (how things ought to work). The variants of the MC theme contain different amounts of the normative component. For example, the relativist model (Connolly, Conlon, and Deutsch, 1980) is intended to be purely descriptive, while the social justice model (Keeley, 1984) is largely normative. It is neither possible nor useful to resolve the argument on the value-based normative aspect of the model. The important issues for empirical work on the MC models are descriptive. How can the MC model be operationalized to provide some insight into the dynamics of effectiveness? The present research focused on the descriptive component of the MC approach and investigated three questions germane to the MC approach: (1) What constituencies exist for an organization in particular setting? (2) What effectiveness assessment does each constituency now reach? and (3) What factors influence these assessments? While there may be many other important and relevant questions, these three appear to be the most fundamental and common to the conceptual core of the variants of the MC model. A systematic empirical investigation of the MC model requires focusing on an organizational unit that, first, can be meaningfully assessed by the multiple constituency approach and, second, will provide a sufficient sample size for comparative analysis. The human resource (HR) departments in large organizations appear to satisfy both requirements; hence this subunit was chosen as the focal organization for the current study. …

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