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Unravelling the HRM-Performance Link: Value-Creating and Cost-Increasing Effects of Small Business HRM


  • Luc Sels
  • Sophie De Winne
  • Johan Maes
  • Jeroen Delmotte
  • Dries Faems
  • Anneleen Forrier


The majority of empirical studies on the HRM-performance link report a positive story. The costs associated with the productivity rise due to high performance work practices (HPWP) have been largely neglected. The purpose of this study is to develop a conceptual framework that maps both the value-enhancing and cost-raising impact of HPWP. In addition, we want to pronounce upon their overall effect on financial performance. To test our model, we rely on a sample of small businesses. Understanding both performance and cost-related effects of the implementation of HPWP is particularly valuable for small businesses since they often lack financial resources to implement HPWP and benefit less from economies of scale compared to their larger counterparts. Study results indicate that although greater use of HPWP is associated with increased productivity, this effect is offset by increased labour costs. However, we find an overall positive effect of HPWP on firm profitability. Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2006.

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  • Luc Sels & Sophie De Winne & Johan Maes & Jeroen Delmotte & Dries Faems & Anneleen Forrier, 2006. "Unravelling the HRM-Performance Link: Value-Creating and Cost-Increasing Effects of Small Business HRM," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(2), pages 319-342, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jomstd:v:43:y:2006:i:2:p:319-342

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Peccei, R.E., 2004. "Human Resource Management And The Search For The Happy Workplace," ERIM Inaugural Address Series Research in Management EIA-2004-021-ORG, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam..
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    Cited by:

    1. Petra Andries & Dirk Czarnitzki, 2014. "Small firm innovation performance and employee involvement," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 43(1), pages 21-38, June.
    2. Murmann, Martin, 2017. "The productivity effects of worker replacement in young firms," ZEW Discussion Papers 17-010, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    3. Ahmed Imran, Hunjra & Muhammad Irfan, Chani & Sher, Aslam & Muhammad, Azam & Kashif-Ur, Rehman, 2010. "Factors Affecting job satisfaction of employees in Pakistani banking sector," MPRA Paper 32130, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Czarnitzki, Dirk & Thorwarth, Susanne, 2012. "Productivity effects of basic research in low-tech and high-tech industries," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(9), pages 1555-1564.
    5. Brigitte Kroon & Karina Voorde & Jules Timmers, 2013. "High performance work practices in small firms: a resource-poverty and strategic decision-making perspective," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 41(1), pages 71-91, June.
    6. Pittino, Daniel & Visintin, Francesca & Lenger, Tamara & Sternad, Dietmar, 2016. "Are high performance work practices really necessary in family SMEs? An analysis of the impact on employee retention," Journal of Family Business Strategy, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 75-89.
    7. Kaifeng Jiang & Riki Takeuchi & David P. Lepak, 2013. "Where do We Go From Here? New Perspectives on the Black Box in Strategic Human Resource Management Research," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(8), pages 1448-1480, December.
    8. Gabriela ÞUÞUEANU & Elena Claudia ªERBAN, 2014. "High Performance Activity Practices in Small Firms in Romania," Economia. Seria Management, Faculty of Management, Academy of Economic Studies, Bucharest, Romania, vol. 17(2), pages 290-303, December.

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