How Frontline Managers Implement, and Employees Experience, Commitment HR Practices: The Roles of Individual Attributional Process and Self-Transcendence Values

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Virginia Tech

The finding of a positive relationship between a set of well-configured commitment human resources practices and performance outcomes at multiple levels of an organization is a well-documented in the strategic human resource management (HRM) literature (e.g., Combs, Lui, Hall, and Ketchen, 2006; Kehoe and Wright, 2013). However, several recent empirical studies (e.g., Liao, Toya, Lepak, and Hong, 2009) find a significant gap between the HR practices organizations report they use and the HR practices employees report they experienced. These more recent findings call into question the extent to which formal HR programs reported by organizational leaders are actually understood and implemented by lower level managers. To the extent that formal HR programs are not fully implemented as intended suggests many organizations may not be getting the full benefits from their HR program investments. The present study addresses this issue by focusing on the problem of HR practices implementation. Drawing on attribution theory, I examine how frontline managers (FLMs) and employees recognize, interpret, and react to commitment HR practices adopted by their organization. Additionally, I tested the influence of the self-transcendence values of FLMs and employees on their attributional processes. In doing so, three models (frontline manager, employee, and multi-level models) were proposed and the hypotheses based on these models were tested.

Data collected from 195 employees nested in 61 workgroups provided mixed support for the hypothesized relationships. In the frontline manager, tests of hypotheses revealed that FLMs' awareness of commitment HR programs affected their commitment HR attributions and implementation of commitment HR practices. The employee model showed that employees' awareness of commitment HR practices influenced their commitment HR attributions and organizational citizenship behavior (OCB). However self-transcendence was not a significant moderator in both models. Finally, the multi-level model suggested that FLMs' implementation of commitment HR practices is a significant predictor of employees' commitment HR attributions. The findings contribute to the strategic HRM literature by demonstrating how organizations can implement commitment HR practices to attain unrealized potential benefits of commitment HR practices. The failure to demonstrate the moderating effect of self-transcendence values on attributional process of commitment HR practices presents a continued challenge for future research.

Strategic human resource management, commitment HR practices, HR practices implementation, HR attributions, frontline managers, individual values