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Human capital routines and sustainability trade-offs: The influence of conflicting schemas for operations and safety managers

Annachiara Longoni (ESADE Business School, Ramon Llull University, Barcelona, Spain)
Mark Pagell (College of Business, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland)
Anton Shevchenko (John Molson School of Business, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada)
Robert Klassen (Ivey Business School, Western University, London, Canada)

International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Article publication date: 16 May 2019

Issue publication date: 7 August 2019

Abstract

Purpose

Sustainable operations management is characterized by environmental, social and operational goals. The implementation of routines to protect and direct the effective use of human capital is proposed to potentially improve all three dimensions. However, functional managers with overlapping responsibilities at the plant-level might implement human capital routines based on their individual functional schemas. The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether functional managers have conflicting perceptions of human capital routines, due to narrow perceptions benefiting their own functional domain, and thus generate trade-offs.

Design/methodology/approach

A combination of matched survey and archival data from 198 manufacturing plants is used to explore the degree to which functional managers have conflicting perceptions of human capital routines and the effects of these perceptions on sustainability outcomes.

Findings

The results indicate that on average functional managers have conflicting perceptions that generate trade-offs between sustainability dimensions. However, when functional managers had a shared perception better outcomes on all sustainability dimensions are shown. Thus, human capital routines can be a powerful tool for sustainability only if senior management can promote a shared schema across functional managers.

Originality/value

Differently than most previous studies assuming shared sustainability goals within an organization, this study considers a multiplicity of functional actors with potentially varying perceptions about sustainability goals and links these to organizational routine implementation and outcomes. Additionally, the dynamic and subjective nature of organizational routines, such as human capital routines, is proposed to explain contradictory impacts in a multi-objective setting such as sustainable operations management.

Keywords

Citation

Longoni, A., Pagell, M., Shevchenko, A. and Klassen, R. (2019), "Human capital routines and sustainability trade-offs: The influence of conflicting schemas for operations and safety managers", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 39 No. 5, pp. 690-713. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJOPM-05-2018-0247

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited