Do SHRM and HPWS shape employees’ affective commitment and empowerment?

Publication Date02 December 2019
Date02 December 2019
AuthorLorena Para-González,Daniel Jiménez-Jiménez,Ángel Rafael Martínez-Lorente
SubjectHr & organizational behaviour
Do SHRM and HPWS shape
employeesaffective commitment
and empowerment?
Lorena Para-González
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences,
University Isabel I, Burgos, Spain
Daniel Jiménez-Jiménez
Department of Management, Organization and Finances,
Universidad de Murcia, Murcia, Spain, and
Ángel Rafael Martínez-Lorente
Department of Economics Business,
Technical University of Cartagena, Cartagena, Spain
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to investigate the role of affective commitment and empowerment as
mediators in the relationship among high-performance work systems (HPWS) and organizational
performance. Different inconsistencies found in the literature review shows the need to take into account
certain mediating variables, such as employeesbehaviors and attitudes, to understand how human resource
management (HRM) facilitates the achievement of organizational results.
Design/methodology/approach A sample of 200 medium-sized Spanish organizations was examined
through partial least squares modeling methodology.
Findings As hypothesized, a proactive strategic HRM approach in an organization can be translated in a
series of human resources practices systems of high-performance, which stimulate directly employees
affective commitment and promote empowerment among them, getting to better results in employees
performance and in organizational performance.
Originality/value This research shows that affective commitment and empowerment play a determinant
role as mediators in HPWS and performance relationship, providing a deeper understanding of the alignment
of strategy and HRM practices for organizational success.
Keywords Performance, Empowerment, Strategic human resource management, Affective commitment,
High-performance work systems
Paper type Research paper
Researchers have been concerned about the answer to the question of how
strategic human resource management (SHRM) may produce positive organizational
performance (Zhu et al., 2013; Heffernan et al., 2016). In fact, some authors have
recently concluded that there should be some variables mediating in this relationship
(Darwish et al., 2013). This, together with the fact that nowadays companies operate in
dynamic environments characterized by high turbulence and competitive intensity,
make this question of interest and relevance for the excellent functioning of companies.
In this sense, although human resources (HR) are seen as one of the most important
assets of any company, it is only from the end of the 1980s that they were thought as a
crucial element, with the emergence of the concept of SHRM (Lengnick-Hall et al., 2011).
However, the definitive success of this concept came only in the last decade, although
it is still source of debate (Lengnick-Hall et al., 2011). SHRM covers the overall HR
strategies adopted by companies and tries to measure their impact on performance
(Lengnick-Hall et al., 2009). This area is still in evolution and its study continues to try to
Evidence-based HRM: a Global
Forum for Empirical Scholarship
Vol. 7 No. 3, 2019
pp. 300-324
© Emerald PublishingLimited
DOI 10.1108/EBHRM-01-2019-0004
Received 19 January 2019
Revised 27 February 2019
Accepted 28 February 2019
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
identify with which other variables it is linked in organizations and how it helps to
improve performance outcomes.
One of the main challenges of this research has been the identification of variables
through which SHRM accomplish an improved performance. In this regard, some authors
have defended that SHRM enhances competitive advantages by managing human
resource management (HRM) practices integrated in a system that promote the
organizational strategy (Schuler, 1992; Huselid et al., 1997). SHRM is, therefore, centered
on aligning internally HRM practices in order to build employeesskills, abilities and
attitudes that favors the consecution of business goals (Lengnick-Hall and Lengnick-Hall,
1988). Under this view, different authors analyzed the logic behind the linkage between
HR strategies and outcomes, and found that HRM practices impact on employees
behaviors and attitudes, resulting thereby in positive organizational performance. For
instance, variables such as engagement/commitment (Takeuchi et al., 2009), empowerment
(Biron and Bamberger, 2011), motivation or satisfaction ( Jiang et al., 2012) could improve
employeesproductivity. In fact, employeesresults (Wang et al., 2011) are determinant for
organizational performance. According to the resource-based view (RBV) ( Barney, 1991),
both the HR pool (such as the skills, behaviors or motivations of employees) and the HRM
practices could be remarked as sources of a competitive advantage, particularly if they are
aligned with the firm competitive strategy and taking into account that they display the
value, rarity, inimitability and non-substitutability criteria. Although there is now an
expanding interest in these above mentioned variables, there is a need for research that
advances understanding on how a proactive SHRM may be translated into better
organizational results. In spite of the interest aroused in this relationship, there are large
gaps in the literature concerning the explanation of how this proactive approach may be
translated into an improvement of the results. It is in this intermediate step in which this
paper is positioned.
This paper contributes to the SHRM literature by examining the mediation effect of
HRM practices in order to increase employeesresults. SHRM literature sustains that HRM
could improve performance if they are aligned with organizational strategy (Youndt et al.,
1996). In this line, several papers have underlined the effect of a strategic approach and
performance (Ahmad and Allen, 2015; Heffernan et al., 2016). However, it remains not
clear how this is carried out. In this paper, we contribute to literature analyzing how a
high-performance work system (HPWS) could help the proactive approach to increase
organizational performance. On the one hand, the paper sustains that the implementation
of an organizational strategy can be made in anappropriatewayifthecompanyappliesa
set of good practices in the management of HR. On the other hand, a system of HR
practices under a configurational approach should be adopted. Although the literature
emphasizes the advantages of the application of a system of HR practices with internal
consistency and with synergistic results, prior research has often been focused in the
study of individual HR practices.
Finally, we intend to deepen into the relationship between HPWS and the results of
employees. As we have previously mentioned, theoretical literature suggests that some
behaviors mediate in the relationship between HRM and performance. For instance,
Takeuchi et al. (2009) highlight the need to know how a HPWS affects empowerment in
future research. Also, Macleod and Clarke (2009) argue that workplaces designed to boost
commitment as well as more decisions-taking power in employees, motivate their
contribution to organizational success. In fact, both commitment and empowerment could
be considered as a best practiceto be developed in an organization in order to foster
organizational performance. This is due to the fact that empowered and committed
employees are highly motivated in their jobs and find meaning in their work, what allows
them to achieve work-related goals and greater organizational effectiveness (Kanter, 1979).

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