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Organization Context and Human Resource Management in the Small Firm


  • 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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Suggested Citation

  • de Kok, Jan & Uhlaner, Lorraine M, 2001. "Organization Context and Human Resource Management in the Small Firm," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 17(4), pages 273-291, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:sbusec:v:17:y:2001:i:4:p:273-91

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David B. Audretsch & A. Roy Thurik, 2000. "Capitalism and democracy in the 21st Century: from the managed to the entrepreneurial economy," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 10(1), pages 17-34.
    2. John Paul Macduffie, 1995. "Human Resource Bundles and Manufacturing Performance: Organizational Logic and Flexible Production Systems in the World Auto Industry," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 48(2), pages 197-221, January.
    3. Koch, C. & de Kok, J., 1999. "A Human-Resource-Based heory of the Small Firm," Papers 9906/e, NEUHUYS - RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR SMALL AND MEDIUM.
    4. Ferligoj, Anuska & Prasnikar, Janez & Jordan, Vesna, 1997. "Competitive Advantage and Human Resource Management in SMEs in a Transitional Economy," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 9(6), pages 503-514, December.
    5. Ichniowski, Casey & Shaw, Kathryn & Prennushi, Giovanna, 1997. "The Effects of Human Resource Management Practices on Productivity: A Study of Steel Finishing Lines," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 291-313, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gutiérrez, Jaime Ortega & Cegarra Navarro, Juan G. & Cepeda Carrión, Gabriel A. & Leal Rodríguez, Antonio L., 2015. "Linking unlearning with quality of health services through knowledge corridors," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 68(4), pages 815-822.
    2. Franck Brulhart & Sandrine Gherra & Philippe Rousselot, 2009. "Un outil de mesure et de signalisation de la performance pour la PME : Présentation d'un « modèle DuPont enrichi »," Post-Print halshs-00441661, HAL.
    3. 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.
    4. David Urbano & Desislava Yordanova, 2008. "Determinants of the adoption of HRM practices in tourism SMEs in Spain: an exploratory study," Service Business, Springer;Pan-Pacific Business Association, vol. 2(3), pages 167-185, September.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. Bartosz Slawecki, 2011. "Anthropology of the peripheral labour market. The role of culture in explaining the process of hiring employees in microenterprises (Antropologia peryferyjnego rynku pracy - rola kultury w wyjasnianiu," Problemy Zarzadzania, University of Warsaw, Faculty of Management, vol. 9(32), pages 129-153.
    9. Lai Wan Hooi, 2014. "HRM Intensity, Corporate Entrepreneurship and Organisational Learning Capability in SMEs: What is the Relationship?," Proceedings of International Academic Conferences 0701980, International Institute of Social and Economic Sciences.
    10. 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, Technische Universität München (TUM), Center for Entrepreneurial and Financial Studies (CEFS).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • J50 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - General
    • L20 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - General
    • M12 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Personnel Management; Executives; Executive Compensation


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