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Article
Publication date: 2 August 2011

Alvaro López‐Cabrales, Ramon Valle and Jose L. Galan

This paper seeks to analyse whether the firm model of employment relationships is associated with functional flexibility and organisational learning (exploratory versus…

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2328

Abstract

Purpose

This paper seeks to analyse whether the firm model of employment relationships is associated with functional flexibility and organisational learning (exploratory versus exploitative). It also aims to assess the mediating effect of functional flexibility in the relationship between a specific employment mode (mutual investment) and organisational learning.

Design/methodology/approach

This research was conducted using a sample of Spanish companies in the food industry, from which data from HR managers and production managers in each firm were collected. Cluster analyses, MANOVA and regression analyses were applied to test the hypotheses.

Findings

The results suggest that those firms developing a mutual investment employment relationship outperform other firms in terms of functional flexibility and organisational learning (both exploitative and exploratory learning). The paper also finds a mediating effect of one dimension of functional flexibility (range‐number of activities) between mutual investment and exploitative learning.

Research limitations/implications

The principal limitation of this paper is the cross‐sectional study design, because the dynamic character of learning would require a longitudinal study design. The main research implications are derived from the combination of employment relationships, variety of dimensions of flexibility and learning, and identification of a model of direct and mediating effects among variables.

Practical implications

The results of this paper suggest that a model of employment relationships (mutual investment) favours not only functional flexibility but also ambidextrous learning. Thus, the findings not only provide a broader understanding of the variables associated with HRM, employment relationships and/or flexibility, but also reinforce the strategic role of HRM through its contribution to the development of such a relevant organisational capability that learning represents.

Originality/value

The paper combined a series of variables that previous studies have rarely treated in combination: employment relationships, functional flexibility and exploitative versus exploratory learning. This paper also discusses different dimensions of functional flexibility (range‐number of activities, heterogeneity, mobility, and uniformity), demonstrating the association of some of these dimensions with exploratory or exploitative learning.

Details

Personnel Review, vol. 40 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0048-3486

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Article
Publication date: 5 June 2017

Abdul Majid, Muhammad Yasir and Muhammad Yasir

The purpose of this study is to provide an insight into how individual and work factors are related to the attitudes of functional flexibility by using the willingness and…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to provide an insight into how individual and work factors are related to the attitudes of functional flexibility by using the willingness and ability to be flexible as dimensions of functional flexibility.

Design/methodology/approach

This study is conducted through a survey of workers and administrative staff of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Pakistan. Correlation and hierarchical regression techniques were used to find out the association of the dimensions of functional flexibility with the individual and work factors. Individual factors include demographic characteristics, work perception and personality traits, whereas work factors include trust in management, task formalization and autonomy.

Findings

Individual factors (i.e. general self-efficacy and initiative) and one of the work factors (i.e. trust in management) showed a positive relation, whereas task formalization was negatively related with the willingness to be flexible. General self-efficacy of workers and administrative staff was positively correlated with the ability to be flexible dimension of functional flexibility. It was concluded from the findings that the two dimensions of functional flexibility, willingness to be flexible and ability to be flexible, of employees depend on fair treatment and freedom provided by their organization.

Research limitations/implications

The current study was conducted on the employees of SMEs in Pakistan. A similar study on employees of multi-national corporations (MNCs) and service sectors may be useful for comparison.

Practical implications

Management should improve the attitudes of employees toward functional flexibility in SMEs in Pakistan by creating a climate of trust, using lower degree of laid down and prescribed procedures and giving them opportunities for doing new tasks. Furthermore, providing them feedback on the performance and achievement of these new tasks would also help in this regard.

Originality/value

The SMEs of Pakistan are in the process of transformational change. This study highlights the key factors that would be helpful to enhance the functional flexibility of employees working in the SME sector in Pakistan.

Details

Journal of Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies, vol. 9 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2053-4604

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Article
Publication date: 1 October 1998

Andrea Friedrich, Rüdiger Kabst, Wolfgang Weber and Maria Rodehuth

This article raises the question of to what extent functional flexibility is an operatively designed approach with which European companies confront current short‐term…

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4884

Abstract

This article raises the question of to what extent functional flexibility is an operatively designed approach with which European companies confront current short‐term changes in their environment, and whether functional flexibility is integrated into long‐term human resource strategies. The proposition is tested that organisations with a strategic human resource management in the sense of a coordinated, objective‐oriented personnel management pattern, show a higher probability of using job rotation than organisations lacking a strategic‐oriented human resource management approach.

Details

Employee Relations, vol. 20 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

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Article
Publication date: 9 March 2010

Kym Fraser and Hans‐Henrik Hvolby

Two of the most sought after properties in today's dynamic and competitive manufacturing environment are labour flexibility and effective teamworking. This is due in no…

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4472

Abstract

Purpose

Two of the most sought after properties in today's dynamic and competitive manufacturing environment are labour flexibility and effective teamworking. This is due in no small part to the growth of modern manufacturing philosophies which strongly advocate the need for both teamwork and flexibility. This paper aims to explore the impact of two labour flexibility strategies (functional flexibility and intra‐cell flexibility) on teamwork in a cellular manufacturing environment.

Design/methodology/approach

Using a revised input/process/output (IPO) team effectiveness model a questionnaire was designed and a case study undertaken at a large Australian manufacturer. The knowledge, skills, and ability (KSAs) gained from job rotation (flexibility) was quantitatively tested against team processes and team performance.

Findings

It was found that functional flexibility had an overall stronger, significant effect on the five team processes tested (communication, conflict resolution, problem solving, goals and performance, tasks and planning) than did intra‐cell flexibility. In regards to output (team performance) functional flexibility performed better in areas such as customer delivery, inventory holdings and quality, while intra‐cell flexibility performed better in the area of absenteeism. An inconclusive result was obtained for the fifth output measure, efficiency rate.

Research limitations/implications

The study was conducted at a single organisation, which limits the generalisation of the outcomes, therefore broader research on the area is recommended.

Practical implications

The study provides evidence that the individual benefits of both functional flexibility and teamworking may be enhanced while being practised concurrently. With labour flexibility and teamwork being key factors in most modern organisations, the practical implications are much wider than the field of manufacturing.

Originality/value

Individually, the literature offers much on teamworking and flexibility but studies exploring the combined effects of these two important elements are rare, especially in the field of manufacturing. The present paper fills some of the gaps

Details

Team Performance Management: An International Journal, vol. 16 no. 1/2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1352-7592

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Article
Publication date: 12 September 2008

Federica Origo and Laura Pagani

The purpose of this paper is to empirically test whether various flexible work arrangements produce different effects on alternative measures of job satisfaction in…

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11038

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to empirically test whether various flexible work arrangements produce different effects on alternative measures of job satisfaction in Europe. To test the existence of heterogeneity in the impact of flexibility on job satisfaction, the paper verifies whether this relation varies with workers' characteristics.

Design/methodology/approach

Empirical evidence is based on a representative sample of European employees taken from a specific wave of the Eurobarometer survey. An ordered probit estimator is used to get the relevant estimates and endogeneity problems have been addressed by exploiting the richness of the data‐set in terms of information on workers' attitude toward work and life (used as proxies of unobserved time‐invariant factors, which are the primary source of endogeneity).

Findings

A positive link was found between functional flexibility and job satisfaction and either no effect or a negative impact of quantitative flexibility. The positive impact of functional flexibility is greater when considering satisfaction for intrinsic aspects of the job. Estimates by workers' characteristics highlight interesting differences by age, skill and country of residence.

Research limitations/implications

The major limitation is the cross‐sectional nature of the data, but there was no awareness of any panel data containing information on all the relevant variables of this analysis.

Originality/value

With respect to the existing literature, the paper simultaneously considers different types of flexibility and estimates their effect on different facets of job satisfaction, also considering the impact of flexibility on job satisfaction by workers' characteristics. This evidence may be useful to firms in designing more tailored flexibility packages.

Details

International Journal of Manpower, vol. 29 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-7720

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Article
Publication date: 1 October 1999

Zehava Rosenblatt and Batia Inbal

This study is an empirical investigation into the effect of skill flexibility on work attitudes and performance and into managerial attitudes toward skill flexibility

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1638

Abstract

This study is an empirical investigation into the effect of skill flexibility on work attitudes and performance and into managerial attitudes toward skill flexibility. Secondary schools in Israel were used as a case in point, and skill flexibility of teachers was operationalized, distinguishing between role flexibility (the combination of teaching and other school roles) and functional flexibility (the combination of several teaching areas). It was found that both role and functional flexibility were associated with improved teachers’ work performance. Role flexibility was also linked to high organizational commitment and low powerlessness. The findings of the study are supported by interviews with principals, who were generally appreciative of skill‐flexible teachers, but raised practical difficulties related to organizational support of skill flexibility.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 37 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

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Article
Publication date: 1 April 1997

Michael Riley and Andrew Lockwood

In situations where a volatile product market meets an unstable labour market, as is often found in customer contact service operations such as the hospitality industry…

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4181

Abstract

In situations where a volatile product market meets an unstable labour market, as is often found in customer contact service operations such as the hospitality industry, there is a need for the constant manipulation of labour supply to match labour demand. Functional workforce flexibility, where multiskilled staff are able to move from jobs in one department to jobs in another, presents an opportunity for solving part of the problem. Presents an approach to calculating the need for functional flexibility dependent on the identified discrepancies in labour demand and supply. Having identified the size of the need, a strategy needs to be developed for fulfilling that need. In implementing this strategy, two approaches are identified: planned whole job substitution and boundary loosening. While the planned approach offers the rational course for maintaining quality and productivity levels, there is evidence that an evolving approach may help to stabilize a highly volatile situation by breaking down barriers from within.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 17 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

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Article
Publication date: 1 January 2013

Jos Mesu, Maarten Van Riemsdijk and Karin Sanders

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the relationship between transformational and transactional leadership, and labour flexibility within small to medium‐sized…

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2845

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the relationship between transformational and transactional leadership, and labour flexibility within small to medium‐sized enterprises (SMEs). Using a sample comprising 755 employees, rating 121 supervisors within 50 Dutch small and medium‐sized companies, the authors examined the relationship between transformational and transactional leadership on the one hand, and temporal and functional flexibility on the other. Further, to test whether the expected associations could be perceived as a social exchange between supervisor and employees, this study investigated the mediating role of affective organisational commitment.

Design/methodology/approach

Because data were nested, the authors used multilevel analysis for hypothesis testing.

Findings

Both dimensions of transformational leadership, visionary leadership and coaching, were positively related to temporal flexibility; also two dimensions of transactional leadership, contingent reward and active management by exception, were also positively associated with temporal flexibility. All of these associations were mediated by affective organisational commitment, indicating social exchange relationships. As opposed to expectations, passive management by exception, representing poor transactional leadership, was positively related to temporal and functional flexibility. Affective commitment did not mediate these relationships.

Practical implications

SMEs are therefore advised to improve visionary leadership, coaching skills, contingent reward, and active management by exception.

Originality/value

The paper shows that, remarkably, labour flexibility can be increased by both effective and poor leadership. On the one hand, effective leadership seems to promote temporal flexibility by creating employees’ commitment to the organisation. Poor leadership, on the other hand, does not call for people's affective commitment and thus seems to be forcing employees into demonstrating flexible behaviours, as a way of compensating for bad management.

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Article
Publication date: 19 June 2017

Sarah Wise, Christine Duffield, Margaret Fry and Michael Roche

The desirability of having a more flexible workforce is emphasised across many health systems yet this goal is as ambiguous as it is ubiquitous. In the absence of…

Abstract

Purpose

The desirability of having a more flexible workforce is emphasised across many health systems yet this goal is as ambiguous as it is ubiquitous. In the absence of empirical studies in healthcare that have defined flexibility as an outcome, the purpose of this paper is to draw on classic management and sociological theory to reduce this ambiguity.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper uses the Weberian tool of “ideal types”. Key workforce reforms are held against Atkinson’s model of functional flexibility which aims to increase responsiveness and adaptability through multiskilling, autonomy and teams; and Taylorism which seeks stability and reduced costs through specialisation, fragmentation and management control.

Findings

Appeals to an amorphous goal of increasing workforce flexibility make an assumption that any reform will increase flexibility. However, this paper finds that the work of healthcare professionals already displays most of the essential features of functional flexibility but many widespread reforms are shifting healthcare work in a Taylorist direction. This contradiction is symptomatic of a failure to confront inevitable trade-offs in reform: between the benefits of specialisation and the costs of fragmentation; and between management control and professional autonomy.

Originality/value

The paper questions the conventional conception of “the problem” of workforce reform as primarily one of professional control over tasks. Holding reforms against the ideal types of Taylorism and functional flexibility is a simple, effective way the costs and benefits of workforce reform can be revealed.

Details

Journal of Health Organization and Management, vol. 31 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1477-7266

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 2 December 2020

Donia M. Bettaieb and Reem Alsabban

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the compulsory quarantine of many of the world's inhabitants, and by staying at home, several functional developments emerged in…

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1656

Abstract

Purpose

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the compulsory quarantine of many of the world's inhabitants, and by staying at home, several functional developments emerged in residential spaces in Jeddah that affected the role of the house as a contributor to individuals' quality of life under the pressures of quarantine. Given the necessity of the apartments to adapt to these emerging developments, this study explores the determinants associated with the flexibility of residential apartments by looking at the extent to which they meet the new psychological, social and cultural roles required by their users post-COVID-19.

Design/methodology/approach

The qualitative approach (1) extracted concepts related to the flexibility of housing from the available literature and (2) extrapolated the flexibility of the residential apartments from the participants' study (12 families) in different areas of Jeddah by analyzing the results of targeted interviews.

Findings

There is a gap in the participant's understanding of the quality of housing and the level of satisfaction with a housing design that differs before and after their quarantine experience. The participant's adaptation to self-quarantine was mainly through furniture distribution, and housing flexibility was less reliant on the physical transformation of the place than on the change in the inhabitants' perceptions. There was an indication that the deficiencies of flexibility in design relates to the functional, cultural and structural aspects of residential buildings.

Originality/value

This study generated suggestions to develop the foundations for flexible housing design and activate its role under the post-quarantine context according to social and cultural variables. Some proposals should become future requirements for residential apartments to benefit officials and stakeholders to develop housing flexibility.

Details

Archnet-IJAR: International Journal of Architectural Research, vol. 15 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2631-6862

Keywords

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