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Organization Context and Human Resource Management in the Small Firm


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  • de Kok, Jan
  • Uhlaner, Lorraine M


This paper examines the relationship between organization contextual variables and humanresource management (HRM) practices in small firms. The proposed model is based on anintegration of theoretical perspectives, including the resource-based approach, institutionaltheory, transaction cost economics (TCE), and concepts from strategic management. The model isexplored empirically, with qualitative and quantitative analyses of data collected from a sample ofsixteen small Dutch firms. Specific contextual variables examined include company size, thepresence of a collective labor agreement, having a large firm associate, either as supplier,purchasing group or franchiser, and the company's strategic orientation toward growth (growthstrategy). An important finding is the significance of having a large firm associate. Companies witha large firm associate are more likely to report having employer-based training programs. Aspredicted, company size is associated with more formal HRM practices, including greater regularityof performance appraisal and greater likelihood of employer-based training. A weak relationship isfound between a more growth-oriented strategy and greater formality of these two HRM practices.Predictions based on collective labor agreements are not supported. The paper concludes that thefindings warrant further research on the relationship between organization contextual variablesand the formalization of HRM practices, although a clearer definition of the latter variable isneeded in future research.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Small Business Economics.

Volume (Year): 17 (2001)
Issue (Month): 4 (December)
Pages: 273-91

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Handle: RePEc:kap:sbusec:v:17:y:2001:i:4:p:273-91

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  1. John MacDuffie, 1995. "Human resource bundles and manufacturing performance: Organizational logic and flexible production systems in the world auto industry," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 48(2), pages 197-221, January.
  2. Nooteboom, B., 1993. "Firm size effects on transaction costs," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-376115, Tilburg University.
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Cited by:
  1. André van Stel & Lorraine Uhlaner & Haibo Zhou & Valerie Duplat, 2012. "Disentangling the effects of organizational capabilities, innovation and firm size on SME sales growth," Scales Research Reports H201211, EIM Business and Policy Research.
  2. Lutz, Eva & Schraml, Stephanie & Achleitner, Ann-Kristin, 2010. "Loss of control vs. risk reduction: decision factors for hiring non-family CFOs in family firms," CEFS Working Paper Series 2010-04, Center for Entrepreneurial and Financial Studies (CEFS), Technische Universität München.
  3. David Urbano & Desislava Yordanova, 2008. "Determinants of the adoption of HRM practices in tourism SMEs in Spain: an exploratory study," Service Business, Springer, vol. 2(3), pages 167-185, September.
  4. Nazlina Zakaria & Siti Rohaida Mohamed Zainal (PhD) & Prof. Dr. Aizzat Mohd. Nasurdin, 2012. "Investigating The Role Of Human Resource Management Practices On The Performance Of Sme: A Conceptual Framework," Journal of Global Management, Global Research Agency, vol. 3(1), pages 74-92, January.
  5. Taylor, Tracy & McGraw, Peter, 2006. "Exploring Human Resource Management Practices in Nonprofit Sport Organisations," Sport Management Review, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 229-251, November.
  6. Nazlina Zakaria Author_Email: & Dr. Siti Rohaida Mohamed Zainal & Prof. Dr. Aizzat Mohd. Nasurdin, 2011. "Investigating The Role Of Human Resource Management Practices On The Performance Of Sme: A Conceptual Framework," Annual Summit on Business and Entrepreneurial Studies (ASBES 2011) Proceeding 2011-021-153, Conference Master Resources.


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