A number of studies and writings have presented ideas about new working practices that might be embraced in the twenty‐first century. Moreover, that, employers would seek to gain their commitment by adopting the high working practices of high performance working (HPW) for organisations to become successful through their strategic approach to the human resource (HR). It is against Watson's model that this paper seeks, in order to gain insights, to explore the perceptions of current HR professionals of their organisations post‐2000.
A survey design is used for the study to collect data over a four‐week period in February 2006 from 100 HR professionals. Using a seven‐point Likert scale questionnaire, adapted from Watson's model, the study is conducted in two phases. The first initial pilot study that surveys 30 HR professionals and after modification, this is extended to a further 70 HR professionals as Phase 2. The respondents are primarily drawn from organisations in the South East of England and they are employed in both public and private sector large organisations and SMEs.
The findings show that Watson's model for HPW was inconsistent with the choices selected by the respondents within the survey. Rather than choose descriptors from the model that solely reflect traditional (mechanistic) organisations or high performance organisations (organic), respondents chose descriptors with many combinations to reflect where they perceive their organisation's practices fell, e.g. organic or rigid/bureaucratic.
This paper demonstrates a need for an appreciation of the potential gap between employer's aspirations and employee's perceptions of organisational actions. In so noting, it recognises that the psychological contract depends upon the perceptions of both parties. Whilst the high level commitment sought by employers from employees, through HPW, may rely totally upon these very perceptions of employees (employability contract vs psychological contract). If not, perceptions of the “reality” within the organisation may not reflect rhetoric of, or aspiration towards, HPW. As a result, this research adds to the understanding of the dynamics and results from the management of change towards HPW. Therefore, it provides also early indications to further research needed when considering the importance of investigating such dynamics to successful implementation of HPW.
Whilst these results are early indications into working practices post‐2000, what they suggest is that HR professionals generally perceive a move towards HPW practices being adopted by other organisations, rather than within their own working environment. It appears to be the most compelling feature of the study to date, is that most of the participants do not report their review of the current practices of their company as generally falling towards Watson's HPW model practices.
Keeble‐Ramsay, D. and Armitage, A. (2010), "Total quality management meets human resource management: Perceptions of the shift towards high performance working", The TQM Journal, Vol. 22 No. 1, pp. 5-25. https://doi.org/10.1108/17542731011009595Download as .RIS
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