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ILR Articles and Chapters

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    The Spectacle of Automation and Status Aspirations: Adoption of Automated Metro Systems Around the World, 2000-2020
    Kang, Youbin; Kim, Jungmyung (Oxford University Press, 2024-03)
    Automation’s extensive impact on the labor market and economy is well recognized, but the underlying motivations for its adoption remain understudied. To address this gap, we analyze an original dataset covering 1276 cities across 148 countries, using event history analysis to examine the adoption of automated metro systems. Our research suggests that city governments are driven by status competition in their decisions to automate subway systems. We find that high-status cities are more likely to adopt automation. However, this trend diminishes when cities are preparing to host a mega-event such as the Olympics, indicating that lower-status cities use these events as opportunities to adopt automation technologies. Our finding reveals that status-driven aspirations, manifesting in the spectacle of automation, are a significant motivator for adopting automated technologies, prompting further investigation into the socio-economic factors influencing automation and the symbolic importance of technological advancement across various economic sectors.
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    Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining in Minority Trade Unions
    Kang, Youbin (Brill, 2019-08)
    [Excerpt] In 2010, the Republic of Korea passed an amendment to its Trade Union and Labour Relations Adjustment Act (TULRAA). The amendment, enacted in 2011, introduced a single collective bargaining channel in workplaces consisting of multiple trade union partners. The case at hand was brought to the ILO Committee of Freedom of Association (the Committee) by the International Union of Food Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers Association (IUF), which alleges that the implementation of the revised act in 2011 resulted in various discriminatory actions by the employer, Sejong Hotel, against a minority union, the Sejong Hotel Labor Union (SHLU). The Committee did not determine that the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining was violated but recommends that the government look toward preventive measures against adverse effects of the revised TULRAA.
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    The Rise, Demise and Replacement of the Bangladesh Experiment in Transnational Labour Regulation
    Kang, Youbin (International Labour Organization, 2021-09)
    Five years after the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in 2013 – a disaster that killed 1,133 garment workers – the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, a multi-stakeholder programme designed to set labour standards for the garment industry, was terminated by Bangladesh’s highest court. Widely hailed as a promising example of transnational regulation, the Accord was never successfully institutionalized locally. On the basis of archival and ethnographic work in Bangladesh, the author suggests that, although the Accord successfully upgraded factory safety standards, its failure to build widespread support among local employers, workers and the Government led to its termination and replacement.
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    The Goldilocks Effect of Strategic Human Resource Management? Optimizing the Benefits of a High-Performance Work System through the Dual Alignment of Vertical and Horizontal Fit
    Han, Joo Hun; Kang, Saehee; Oh, In-Sue; Kehoe, Rebecca; Lepak, David P. (Academy of Managment, 2019)
    Although vertical and horizontal fit in strategic human resource management are foundational to the links between a high-performance work system (HPWS) and organizational performance, little is known about how these two fits interact to affect organizational performance. We address this shortcoming while also advancing knowledge on each type of fit. We offer a more nuanced examination of vertical fit (which has typically been assessed with respect to organizations’ broad strategic types) by focusing on the alignment of an HPWS with an organization’s market entry timing mode—a key element of strategy. We propose that among organizations pursuing new product development, the effect of an HPWS on organizational performance is most positive under a fast-follower entry timing, followed by a first-mover and finally a fence-sitter entry timing. We then hypothesize that the benefit of vertical fit is magnified when the complementary human resources practices comprising an HPWS are implemented with greater internal consistency (or with similar intensities) across the ability, motivation, and opportunity domains—reflecting a positive interaction between vertical and horizontal fit in predicting the effectiveness of an HPWS. Analyses of four-wave nationally representative panel data yield strong support for our dual-alignment model of SHRM.
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    An Expanded Conceptualization of Line Managers’ Involvement in Human Resource Management
    Kehoe, Rebecca; Han, Joo Hun (American Psychological Association, 2019)
    Recent research provides evidence that, contrary to implicit assumptions in much of the strategic human resource management (SHRM) literature, human resource (HR) systems and practices are in fact enacted with substantial variation across units even within organizations, with such variation largely a function of the line managers involved in implementing HR practices in the units under their supervision. While instrumental in demonstrating the critical role that line managers play in facilitating the causal chain linking organizations’ HR practices with intended employee and organizational outcomes, we contend that the focus of this research on HR practice implementation as a singular and unidimensional characterization of line managers’ involvement in human resource management (HRM) represents an oversimplification on several counts. Broadly, we propose that this focus fails to account for the varied nature of line managers’ downward influences in the context of HRM. Thus, we integrate insights from research on HR practice implementation, workforce differentiation, and autonomous strategic behavior to develop a more complete understanding of line managers’ downward involvement in HRM. Based on our synthesis of relevant insights from these literatures, we propose a research agenda focusing on questions spanning four broad areas with the aim of fostering and guiding future SHRM scholarship to further our understanding of the antecedents, processes, and consequences associated with line managers’ influences on HR system content and process in organizations.
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    Give Them Some Slack - They're Trying to Change! The Benefits of Excess Cash, Excess Employees, and Increased Human Capital in the Strategic Change Context
    Bentley, F. Scott; Kehoe, Rebecca (Academy of Management, 2020)
    We address calls for contextualization in the study of slack resources by examining the pursuit of strategic change as a contingency that shapes the effects of human resource (HR) slack and financial slack on firm performance. Using data on U.S. commercial banks from 2002 to 2014, we demonstrate that HR slack is more positively related to firm performance in firms pursuing strategic change, and that this relationship is stronger in the presence of greater financial slack. Moreover, we find that the moderating effect of financial slack on HR slack in the strategic change context operates through changes in organizations’ human capital investment, offering a unique examination of a key mechanism through which slack resources create value and through which complementarities between different types of slack come to fruition. Our paper advances the contingency perspective within the slack literature and brings important insights from the resource management perspective to the conversation on slack and performance.
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    Revisiting the Concepts of Vertical and Horizontal Fit in HRM: What we Know, What we Don't Know, and Where it Might Go
    Kehoe, Rebecca (Academy of Management, 2021)
    The theoretical soundness and practical relevance of strategic human resource management (SHRM) scholarship has recently come under scrutiny. The goal of this symposium is to offer a starting point for SHRM scholars to rethink our approach to understanding the achievement of competitive advantage through HR, guided by a reconsideration of what it means to achieve horizontal fit and vertical fit in HRM. Collectively, the three papers in this symposium contribute to this effort through a reconsideration of the content of the HR systems we study, an expansion of the strategic bases against which we consider the vertical fit of HR systems, and a more explicit incorporation of complexity and change into our understanding of both the horizontal and vertical fit of the HR “ecosystems” in organizations. In this paper, I introduce the key issues and questions with which the papers in the symposium interface and highlight potential avenues that future SHRM scholarship could pursue to address them.
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    Shadows and Shields: Stars Limit their Collaborators' Exposure to Attributions of Both Credit and Blame
    Kehoe, Rebecca; Bentley, F. Scott (Wiley, 2021)
    Building on the notion of cumulative advantage, we undertake a nuanced examination of how collaborating with a star affects attributions of credit and blame to nonstars in collaborative endeavors. Situating our inquiry in the US hedge fund industry, we hypothesize two-way interactions predicting that collaboration with a star comanager will weaken both the positive effect of comanaged fund success and the negative effect of comanaged fund failure on nonstar managers’ professional status attainment (i.e., the status of a manager’s subsequent employing firm). Specifically, we argue that the involvement of a star comanager will weaken prospective employers’ attributions for positive or negative performance to a focal nonstar manager, due to presumptions of the star’s disproportionate influence in collaborative decisions. We then theorize a series of three-way interactions specifying the roles of other signals of a nonstar manager’s competence in this process. More precisely, we argue that a nonstar’s performance outside the collaborative context and the status of the nonstar’s current employer will weaken the dampening effect of comanaging with a star in the context of success and strengthen the favorable, blame-reducing effect of comanaging with a star in the context of failure. Therefore, we suggest that nonstars who can signal their competence with these independent status signals will achieve greater professional status attainment than will those lacking such signals following both collaborative success and collaborative failure with a star. Our primary analyses support our hypotheses, while our supplementary analyses offer corroborative support for theorized mechanisms and evidence to address alternative explanations.
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    In with the Old? Examining when Boomerang Employees Outperform New Hires
    Keller, JR; Kehoe, Rebecca; Bidwell, Matthew; Collings, David; Myer, Adam (Academy of Management, 2021)
    As most careers now span across organizations, former employees represent a growing source of potential hires for many organizations. Yet, we know little about whether and when firms benefit by rehiring former employees. To answer these questions, we adopt a knowledge-based view of hiring to develop new theory about how returning former employees’ (“boomerangs”) post-hire performance might differ from that of external hires who have no previous experience with the firm(“new hires”). We theorize that, relative to new hires, boomerangs’ familiarity with the organization’s social system will allow them to more effectively engage in coordination and overcome internal resistance from organizational incumbents. As a consequence, boomerangs should have a particular advantage in roles that require a higher degree of coordination and in units that are likely to be more resistant to outsiders. Comparing the post-hire performance of 2,053 boomerangs and 10,858 new hires over an eight-year period in a large health care organization, we find that, upon being (re)hired into the organization, boomerangs outperform new hires in their initial job spell and that this performance advantage is larger in jobs requiring greater internal coordination and in contexts characterized by greater internal resistance to external hires.
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    Investing for Keeps: Firms’ Prepandemic Investments in Human Capital Decreased Workforce Reductions Associated With COVID-19 Financial Pressures
    Bentley, F. Scott; Kehoe, Rebecca; Chung, Hyesook (American Psychological Association, 2021)
    We examine how firms’ prepandemic investments in human capital influence their use of workforce reductions and layoffs (hereafter, workforce reductions) as a response to financial pressures during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. We contend that workforce reductions must be examined in the context of firms’ broader financial and resource orchestration environments. First, we suggest that firms’ relative exposure to pandemic financial pressures (PFPs) will determine their need to cut costs during the pandemic. Second, we argue that a firm’s prior investments in employees’ human capital will reduce the attractiveness of workforce reductions as a cost-cutting response to PFPs, as human capital investment (HCI) increases the value of employees’ knowledge, skills, and abilities and motivation, thus inducing firms to seek alternative measures to reduce costs. We then argue that the attenuating influence of HCI on the effect of PFPs on workforce reductions will be stronger when HCI is matched with greater investments in physical capital, as employees’ human capital will create more value—and will translate to a bigger loss following employee departures—in such circumstances. We demonstrate support for our hypotheses in a sample of 1,364 U.S. banks using data from quarterly Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) reports, news articles, and Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notifications (WARN) Act filings through the fourth quarter of 2020. We discuss implications for our understanding of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on organizations and employees and for research on resource orchestration and human capital.