CAHRS Working Paper Series

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As part of its mission to investigate, translate and apply the latest HR research into practice excellence, CAHRS funds research grants for Cornell ILR School HR Studies (HRS) faculty. Faculty grant proposals are reviewed by the Center's director and CAHRS Advisory Board, and research supported by grants is chosen for its relevance to CAHRS partner firms. The CAHRS Working Paper Series is one way HRS faculty communicate results of their research to partner firms and the public at no charge. CAHRS working papers are available online from 1987 to 2008. This series was discontinued in 2009, and replaced by a new publication series, ResearchLink.

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    HRM and Performance: What’s Next?
    Paauwe, Jaap; Boselie, Jean Paul (2005-07-22)
    The last decade of empirical research on the added value of human resource management (HRM), also known as the HRM and Performance debate, demonstrates evidence that ‘HRM does matter’ (Huselid, 1995; Guest, Michie, Conway and Sheehan, 2003; Wright, Gardner and Moynihan, 2003). Unfortunately, the relationships are often (statistically) weak and the results ambiguous. This paper reviews and attempts to extend the theoretical and methodological issues in the HRM and performance debate. Our aim is to build an agenda for future research in this area. After a brief overview of achievements to date, we proceed with the theoretical and methodological issues related to what constitutes HRM, what is meant by the concept of performance and what is the nature of the link between these two. In the final section, we make a plea for research designs starting from a multidimensional concept of performance, including the perceptions of employees, and building on the premise of HRM systems as an enabling device for a whole range of strategic options. This implies a reversal of the Strategy-HRM linkage.
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    The Role of Corporate HR Funcitons in MNCs: The Interplay Between Corporate, Regional/National and Plant Level
    Farndale, Elaine; Paauwe, Jaap (2005-03-01)
    The HR literature has been abundant in providing typologies of the roles of HR professionals in their organisation. These typologies are largely related to the changing nature of HRM over time, and the context in which empirical work was carried out. In this paper we focus on the context of the increasing internationalisation of firms and how this has an effect upon modern-day typologies of HR roles. We explore these roles by focusing on the way in which HRM practices come about. Especially in a MNC setting of increasing internationalisation of firms the issues of coordination, shared learning and standardisation versus leeway for adapting to the local context (customisation) are prominent. These issues present themselves both at the corporate and regional level and at the national and local (plant) level. On all these levels HR practitioners are active and find themselves amidst the interplay of both (de-)centralisation and standardisation versus customisation processes. This paper thus explores the way in which HR practices come into being and how they are implemented and coordinated. These insights help us understand further the roles of international corporate HR functions that are being identified. Our data is based on 65 interviews, which were held (as part of larger study of HR-function excellence) with HR managers, line managers and senior executives of six multinational companies in eight countries from September to December 2004. This data reveals new classifications of processes by which HR activities are developed, implemented and coordinated, both in terms of who is involved and how these processes are carried out.
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    Human Resource Function Competencies in European Companies
    Boselie, Jean Paul; Paauwe, Jaap (2005-01-01)
    This paper presents an overview of recent empirical research on human resource competencies in Europe. The data were collected in 2002 in the global Human Resource Competence Study, an initiative of the University of Michigan. The results suggest that personal credibility and HR delivery have a positive effect on the relative ranking of the HR function and its professionals. According to non-HRM respondents strategic contribution is the competency that will lead to financial competitiveness, while HR managers consider business knowledge to be crucial for added value of the HR function.
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    Measurement Error in Research on Human Resources and Firm Performance: Additional Data and Suggestions for Future Research
    Wright, Patrick M.; Gardner, Timothy M.; Moynihan, Lisa M.; Park, Hyeon Jeong; Gerhart, Barry A.; Delery, John (2000-11-01)
    Gerhart and colleagues and Huselid and Becker recently debated the presence and implications of measurement error in measures of human resource practices. This paper presents data from three more studies, one of large organizations from different industries at the corporate level, one from commercial banks, and the other of autonomous business units at the level of the job. Results of all three studies provide additional evidence that single respondent measures of HR practices contain large amounts of measurement error. Implications for future research are discussed.
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    Recognizing Risk in Human Capital Investments: A Real Options Approach to Strategic Human Resource Management
    Bhattacharya, Mousumi; Wright, Patrick M. (2000-11-01)
    An issue that has not yet been explored in the field of strategic human resource management (SHRM) is that of managing the ‘risks’ involved in human capital management of the firm. We address this issue using the real option theory framework. We argue that certain HR practices manage risk and generate opportunities for the firm by creating 'options' for its human capital management. These HR options help ensure stability of returns from human capital and thus sustain competitive advantage. Different types of HR options and the role of certain HR practices in creation of these options are discussed.
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    NET WORKING: Work Patterns and Workforce Policies for the New Media Industry
    Batt, Rosemary; Christopherson, Susan; Rightor, Ned; Van Jaarsveld, Danielle (2000-11-01)
    This report, based on a study of a group of highly accomplished professionals in New York City, is one of the first to take up labor market issues in the new media industry. It describes the challenges faced by professionals and employers alike in this important and dynamic sector, and identifies strategies for success in a project oriented environment with highly complex skill demands and rapidly changing technology. Our findings suggest three central issues.
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    In the Trenches at the Talent Wars: Competitive Interaction for Scarce Human Resources - A Qualitative Study
    Gardner, Timothy M. (2000-11-01)
    The purpose of this paper is to examine how firms are competing for scarce human resources in the talent wars. First, the paper makes the distinction between responding to labor shortages with investments in recruiting and retention and directly competing against identified labor market competitors for scarce human resources. It appears firms compete with rivals in the open labor market and in initiating and defending against talent raids. The process of identifying and responding to the tactics of labor market competitors is reviewed for both types of direct competition. Firms tend to respond to rivals’ tactics either by changing the employment relationship with threatened employees or engaging in tactics to influence the behavior of the competing firm. Factors that determine the propensity and type of response to competitor’s tactics are reviewed and integrated. The greater the threat posed by the rival’s tactics the greater the likelihood affected firms will respond with externally as opposed to internally oriented tactics. The greater the skill mobility of threatened employees, the more administrative and financial resources will be invested in the counter-response. Finally, firms use a variety of preemptive tactics to reduce the threat of talent raids. These tactics are listed and explained. The paper concludes with recommendations for firms seeking to gain or protect advantage relative to rivals in the war for talent.
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    Human Resources Strategy: The Era of Our Ways
    Snell, Scott A.; Shadur, Mark A.; Wright, Patrick M. (2000-11-01)
    The purpose of this chapter is to discuss some of the main features and trends in human resources (HR) strategy. Inasmuch as people are among the most important resources available to firms, one could argue that HR strategy should be central to any debate about how firms achieve competitive advantage. But this “people are our most important asset” argument is actually fairly hollow in light of the evidence. Far too many articles on HR start with this premise, but the reality is that organizations have historically not rested their fortunes on human resources. The HR function remains among the least influential in most organizations, and competitive strategies have not typically been based on the skills, capabilities, and behaviors of employees. In fact, as Snell, Youndt and Wright (1996:62) noted, in the past executives have typically tried to “take human resources out of the strategy equation--i.e., by substituting capital for labor where possible, and by designing hierarchical organizations that separate those who think from those who actually do the work.”
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    The Influence of Job Satisfaction and Organizational Commitment on Executive Withdrawal and Performance
    Moynihan, Lisa M.; Boswell, Wendy R.; Boudreau, John W. (2000-11-01)
    This research examines the influence of job satisfaction and three dimensions of organizational commitment (i.e., affective, continuance, and normative) on the intention to leave, job search activity, performance, and leadership effectiveness of executives. Job satisfaction and the commitment dimensions were hypothesized to negatively predict the retention-related variables. Results generally supported the hypotheses. Job satisfaction had the strongest relationship, but both affective and continuance commitment showed an incremental effect even in the presence of job satisfaction. We also hypothesized that job satisfaction and affective commitment would positively and continuance commitment would negatively associate with general performance and leadership. As predicted, job satisfaction associated positively with performance, though not with leadership. Continuance commitment negatively associated with both performance and leadership.
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    The Relationship Between Employee Perceptions of the Employment Game and Their Perceptions of Cooperative Knowledge Behavior in High Tech Firms
    Rogers, Edward William (2000-11-01)
    The relationship between knowledge sharing and organizational performance for high technology start-up companies is not well understood. Using game theory and the concept of competitive advantage through human resource management, I examine employee perceptions of the employment game relating to cooperative knowledge behavior and firm performance as an entry point into researching organizational knowledge utilization. I draw upon classical game theory to develop four measures of perceptions critical to game playing and apply these to organizational situations via a survey instrument. I propose that perceptions of the employment game held by organization members are determinants of cooperative knowledge sharing and subsequently firm performance. I analyze survey data gathered from high-tech workers using both regression and path analysis techniques. The results from this study offer new insights into methods for measuring both the connections between knowledge work and firm performance and the perceptions critical for fostering collaborative knowledge work in high tech firms. Results of the study show a significant relationship between the game theory construct of reciprocity, knowledge building behavior and firm performance. The mediation model was weakly supported but shows potential usefulness for further research in the field of strategic human resource management.