Perceptions of the presence and effectiveness of high involvement work systems and their relationship to employee attitudes

Morris B. Mendelson (Faculty of Business, University of New Brunswick Saint John, Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada)
Nick Turner (Asper School of Business, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada)
Julian Barling (Queen's School of Business, Queen's University, Kingston, Canada)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Publication date: 16 February 2011



Prior research has demonstrated the positive effects of high involvement work systems on various outcomes but none to date has conducted a comparative test of alternative, plausible models of these systems. This paper aims to address this issue.


A test of five high involvement work system models was conducted. The models were tested using employee perceptions of the presence and effectiveness of the organizational practices included in these systems, whereas a majority of prior studies have measured high involvement work practices based on managers' perceptions only. Measures of eight high involvement work practices (i.e. employment security, selective hiring, extensive training, contingent compensation, teams and decentralized decision making, information sharing, reduced status distinctions, transformational leadership) were used to compare the fit of these five models using confirmatory factor analysis. 317 non‐management employees from five Canadian organizations participated. Participants rated both the extent to which they perceived their organizations to have implemented each of the practices and the perceived effectiveness of these practices. Participants' work attitudes (i.e. affective commitment, continuance commitment, job satisfaction) were used to assess the concurrent validity of the tested models.


For both the perceived presence and effectiveness models, confirmatory factor analyses suggested the superiority of a second‐order model, demonstrating concurrent validity with participants' positive (i.e. affective commitment, job satisfaction) and negative (i.e. continuance commitment) attitudes.


This is the first study to conduct a comparative test of five alternative models of high involvement work systems and one of the few studies to address employee perception of these practices.



Mendelson, M., Turner, N. and Barling, J. (2011), "Perceptions of the presence and effectiveness of high involvement work systems and their relationship to employee attitudes", Personnel Review, Vol. 40 No. 1, pp. 45-69.

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