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Unlocking the black box of HRM system strength: Explaining the link between HRM system strength and organizational members’ affective commitment within a Dutch home care organization

Bomans, M. (2013) Unlocking the black box of HRM system strength: Explaining the link between HRM system strength and organizational members’ affective commitment within a Dutch home care organization.

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Abstract:Rationale: In order to explain the link between HRM and performance, HRM literature states that both the content and process approach of HRM need to be taken into account. The concept of HRM system strength integrates the content of HRM, a specific set of HR practices, and the way HR messages are communicated throughout the organization by the HR department and line managers. An organization needs a HRM system that is perceived as strong, which means that organizational members perceive clear, consistent and unambiguous HRM messages about which behavior is expected and rewarded., in order to achieve the organizational goals. Research objective and research question: Although there is some empirical evidence that HRM system strength contributes to organizational performance, it is not clear how the HRM system strength characteristics are interrelated and how this affects the performance of an organization. The aim of this research was to explain the link between HRM system strength and organizational members’ affective commitment by adopting several models. Furthermore, this research was aimed to examine differences in perceptions about HRM system strength among different organizational members; employees, line managers and HR professionals. The following research question was formulated: “Which combination of the characteristics of HRM system strength; distinctiveness, consistency and consensus, has the strongest influence on organizational members’ affective commitment to the organization?” A distinctive, consistent and consensual HRM system: According to the literature, a strong HRM system contributes to the performance of an organization. A strong HRM system is characterized by high distinctiveness, consistency and consensus. A distinctive HRM system means that organizational members perceive visible, understandable and relevant HR practices which are designed and administered by a high status, high credible HR function. Furthermore, the HRM system needs to be perceived as consistent. HR policies and practices should be implemented as intended and furthermore should be internally consistent. Different actors in an organization are involved in the effective implementation of HR – top managers, line managers and HR professionals – consensus among these HR decision makers is needed to create a strong HRM system. A strong HRM system results in shared understandings about which behavior is expected and rewarded in the organization. This fosters desired attitudes and behaviors of organizational members , thereby contributing to the goals of the organization. Methodology: In order to investigate the link between HRM system strength and organizational members’ affective commitment, a case study is performed. The research is conducted within TSN Thuiszorg, the largest Dutch home care organization. They provide domestic, medical and personal care to needy people. In order to get insight in the context of the HRM system within the organization, a document analysis and data from two bachelor students provided useful information. A questionnaire was sent to all the employees, line managers and HR professionals of TSN Thuiszorg in order to test the relationship between HRM system strength and organizational members’ affective commitment. Next to that, a focus group session was organized to get more insight in explanations that could be given for the perceptions of employees, line managers and HR professionals about the strength of the HRM system. Results and conclusion: TSN Thuiszorg scores moderate on all the three characteristics of HRM system strength. In contrast with existing research about HR effectiveness, I found that employees have more positive perceptions about the HRM system compared to HR professionals. As expected, line managers are less positive than HR managers about the strength of the HRM system. For distinctiveness, the results show that at the moment it is not clear for both employees and line managers who is responsible for which HR tasks and who to contact for which HR issues. Furthermore the information is not always provided in an understandable way to employees. Members of the HR department perceive that they do not have a lot of power in the organization, this is due to the high work pressure as well as the self-resolving power of line managers in the organization. The HR practices are not perceived as very relevant, there is no clear link between the goals of the organization and employees’ goals. Regarding the consistency of the HRM system, it became clear that there is a perceived difference between intended and implemented HR practices. Low level line managers have difficulties with performing their HR role and furthermore HR tasks are performed too ad hoc. Line managers lack a clear overall HR policy, this increases the risk of communicating inconsistent HRM messages. Although there is a close cooperation among HR managers and line managers, both perceive low consensus. This could be explained by the fact that both stakeholders have different expectations and assumptions about HR implementation and furthermore have different interests, which leads to disagreement about how to solve HR issues. Low level line managers desire to be more involved in the formulation of HR policies and practices. While overall TSN Thuiszorg scores moderate on distinctiveness, consistency and consensus, improvements need to be made in order to increase the effectiveness of HR practices, as well as the effectiveness of the HR department and the implementation of HR.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Clients:
TSN Thuiszorg, the Netherlands
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Business Administration MSc (60644)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/63658
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