This project aims to explore the meaning and significance of high performance work organization. It also aims to integrate the diverse literatures on High Performance Work Organizations (HPWO). Varied definitions of the HPWO are presented, common components across the definitions are identified, and then each of those components that make up HPWO is examined in more detail. After which the discussion on the link and influence of high performance work systems have on HPWO.
Introduction – defining HPWO
In response to the growing complex environment and organizational demands for improved work performance, there has been an escalating discussion on how human resource can initiate work reforms to improve involvement of employees; this is when high performance work organization was brought about. HPWO has characteristics and are identified in the OECD's definition as an organization that moves toward a flatter and less hierarchical organization structure; a willingness to adopt new working practices; an emphasis on empowerment and teamwork; and high levels of employee participation and learning. These characteristics are believed to foster motivation, trust, communication, knowledge sharing, and innovation within the organization. The organization also adopted a set of working practices deemed to enhance individual and organizational performance. The concept of the HPWO evolved and is influenced between human resource management and organizational performance. The Centre for Effective Organizations (CEO) at the University of Southern California, an organization that has been studying high performance work practices for years, defines the HPWO as employee involvement, participative management, democratic management, and total quality management (Lawler, Mohrman and Ledford, 1995). Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor at Stanford University, includes flexible or lean manufacturing methods and associated employment-relation practices, team-based work, and participation in his definition of the HPWO (Pfeffer, 1998). William Pasmore, author of Creating Strategic Change: Designing the Flexible, High-performing Work Organization, states that "creating flexible, high-performing, learning organizations is the secret to gaining competitive advantage in a world that won't stand still." (Pasmore, 1994: iv) In an article from the journal of leadership studies, Kirkman et al (1998) points out that high performance work organization’s systems often include a number of human resource policies such as hiring, training, performance management, and compensation intended to enhance employee skills, knowledge, motivation, and flexibility. HPWOs also involve fewer levels of management and require new roles for managers that remain such as coaching, integrating, and facilitating.
Characteristics and components of HPWO
After the understanding the definitions of HPWO, it is necessary to know the components of the HPWO. This from what we have gathered would involve aspects of organizational structure, human resource policies, managerial behaviours, and organization culture. More specifically, these organizational areas are affected by five major components which are: Self-managing work team, employee involvement, total quality management, integrated production technologies and a learning organization
Self managing work team (SMWT)
As defined by Yeatts & Hytens(1998), self managing work team is a group of employees who are responsible for managing and performing technical task that result in a product or service being delivered to an internal or external customer. Increasing global competition, sharp reductions in product life cycles, and swift changes in consumer demand patterns have put greater emphasis on the organizational need for and commitment to innovations. With this is mind, Muthusamy et al(2005) believes that self-managed work teams would foster greater autonomy, increase communication among team members, and intensify their...
(1) Adapted from Wright& Gardner (2004) and Purcell& Hutchison (2007)
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