Skip to main content Accessibility help

The impact of high-performance work systems on firm performance: The moderating effects of the human resource function’s influence

  • Dae Yong Jeong (a1) and Myungweon Choi (a1)


With data collected from 632 manufacturing firms in South Korea, we investigated (1) the relationship between high-performance work systems (HPWSs) and firm performance, and (2) the moderating effect of the human resource (HR) function’s influence on the relationship between HPWSs and firm performance. Our findings showed the existence of both the main effect of HPWSs, supporting the universalistic perspective, and the moderating effect of the HR function’s influence, supporting the contingency perspective. Based on the findings, we concluded that HPWSs can be regarded as universal or best practices; at the same time, the presence of an influential HR function may intensify the effect of HPWSs on firm performance. This study contributes to the debate over the respective merits of the universalistic and contingency perspectives by showing that the two perspectives are not necessarily incompatible; rather, they can be complementary.


Corresponding author

Corresponding author:


Hide All
Aiken, L. S., & West, S. G. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Andersen, K. K., Cooper, B. K., & Zhu, C. J. (2007). The effect of SHRM practices on perceived firm financial performance: Some initial evidence from Australia. Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources, 45(2), 168179.
Appelbaum, E., Bailey, T., Berg, P., & Kalleberg, A. (2000). Manufacturing advantage: Why high performance work systems pay off. Ithaca, NY: ILR Press.
Arthur, J. B. (1994). Effects of human resource systems on manufacturing performance and turnover. Academy of Management Journal, 37(3), 670687.
Bae, J., & Lawler, J. J. (2000). Organizational and HRM strategies in Korea: Impact on firm performance in an emerging economy. Academy of Management Journal, 43(3), 502517.
Bae, J., & Sa, J.-H. (2003). The effects of human resource management systems on organizational performance. Korean Journal of Management, 11(2), 133169.
Baird, L., & Meshoulam, I. (1988). Managing two fits of strategic human resource management. Academy of Management Review, 13(1), 116128.
Barney, J. B. (1991). Firm resources and sustained competitive advantage. Journal of Management, 17(1), 99120.
Barney, J. B., & Wright, P. M. (1998). On becoming a strategic partner: The role of human resources in gaining competitive advantage. Human Resource Management, 37(1), 3146.
Bartram, T., Stanton, P., Leggat, S., Casimir, G., & Fraser, B. (2007). Lost in translation: Exploring the link between HRM and performance in healthcare. Human Resource Management Journal, 17(1), 2141.
Becker, B. E., & Gerhart, B. (1996). The impact of human resource management on organizational performance: Progress and prospects. Academy of Management Journal, 39(4), 779801.
Becker, B. E., & Huselid, M. A. (2006). Strategic human resources management: Where do we go from here? Journal of Management, 32(6), 898925.
Bernardi, R. A. (1994). Validating research results when Cronbach’s alpha is below .70: A methodological procedure. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 54(3), 766775.
Blau, P. M. (1964). Exchange and power in social life. New York, NY: Wiley.
Bos-Nehles, A. C. (2010). The line makes the difference: Line managers as effective HR partners. Zutphen, The Netherlands: CPI Wöhrmann Print Service.
Bowen, D. E., & Ostroff, C. (2004). Understanding HRM-firm performance linkages: The role of the ‘strength’ of the HRM system. Academy of Management Review, 29(2), 203221.
Boxall, P. (2012). High-performance work systems: What, why, how and for whom? Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources, 50(2), 169186.
Boxall, P., & Purcell, J. (2000). Strategic human resource management: Where have we come from and where should we be going? International Journal of Management Reviews, 2(2), 183203.
Boxall, P., & Macky, K. (2009). Research and theory on high-performance work systems: Progressing the high-involvement stream. Human Resource Management Journal, 19(1), 323.
Boyer, K. K., Leong, G. K., Ward, P., & Krajewski, L. (1997). Unlocking the potential of advanced manufacturing technologies. Journal of Operations Management, 15(1), 331347.
Brockbank, W. (1999). If HR were really strategically proactive: Present and future directions in HR’s contribution to competitive advantage. Human Resource Management, 38(4), 337352.
Buller, P. F., & McEvoy, G. M. (2012). Strategy, HRM and performance: Sharpening line of sight. Human Resource Management Review, 22(1), 4356.
Buyens, D., & De Vos, A. (2001). Perceptions of the value of the HR function. Human Resources Management Journal, 11(3), 7089.
Cappelli, P., & Neumark, D. (2001). Do ‘high-performance’ work practices improve establishment-level outcomes? Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 54(4), 737775.
Chi, N.-W., & Lin, Y.-Y. (2010). Beyond the high-performance paradigm: Exploring the curvilinear relationship between high-performance work systems and organizational performance in Taiwanese manufacturing firms. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 49(3), 486514.
Chung, H. S., & Kang, S.-C. (2013). Sources of HR department power: Scale development and validation. Seoul Journal of Business, 19(2), 95126.
Clinton, M., & Guest, D. E. (2013). Testing universalistic & contingency HRM assumptions across job levels. Personnel Review, 42(5), 529551.
Coff, R. W. (1997). Human assets and management dilemmas: Coping with hazards on the road to resource-based theory. Academy of Management Review, 22(2), 374402.
Cohen, A. R., & Bradford, D. L. (2003). Influence without authority: The use of alliances, reciprocity, and exchange to accomplish work. In L. W. Porter, H. L. Angle, & R. W. Allen (Eds.), Organizational influence processes (2nd ed., pp. 384394). New York, NY: M. E. Sharpe.
Collins, C. J., & Clark, K. D. (2003). Strategic human resource practices, top management team social networks, and firm performance: The role of human resource practices in creating organizational competitive advantage. Academy of Management Journal, 46(6), 740751.
Combs, J., Liu, Y., Hall, A., & Ketchen, D. (2006). How much do high- performance work practices matter? A meta-analysis of their effects on organizational performance. Personnel Psychology, 59(3), 501528.
Cornwall, A., & Brock, K. (2005). What do buzzwords do for development policy? A critical look at ‘participation’, ‘empowerment’ and ‘poverty reduction’. Third World Quarterly, 26(7), 10431060.
Cortina, J. M. (1993). What is coefficient alpha? An examination of theory and applications. Journal of Applied Psychology, 78(1), 98104.
Crook, T. R., Todd, S. Y., Combs, J. G., Woehr, D. J., & Ketchen, D. J. Jr. (2011). Does human capital matter? A meta-analysis of the relationship between human capital and firm performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96(3), 443456.
Dahl, R., & Stinebrickner, B. (2003). Modern political analysis. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Datta, D. K., Guthrie, J. P., & Wright, P. M. (2005). Human resource management and labor productivity: Does industry matter? Academy of Management Journal, 48(1), 135145.
Delaney, J. T., & Huselid, M. A. (1996). The impact of human resource management practices on perceptions of organizational performance. Academy of Management Journal, 39(4), 949969.
Delery, J. E., & Doty, D. H. (1996). Modes of theorizing in strategic human resource management: Tests of universalistic, contingency, and configurational performance predictions. Academy of Management Journal, 39(4), 802835.
Delery, J. E., & Shaw, J. D. (2001). The strategic management of people in work organizations: Review, synthesis, and extension. Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management, 20, 165197.
Den Hartog, D., Boon, C., Verburg, R. M., & Croon, M. (2013). HRM, communication, satisfaction, and perceived performance: A cross-level test. Journal of Management, 39(6), 16371665.
Dyer, L., & Reeves, T. (1995). Human resource strategies and firm performance: What do we know and where do we need to go? International Journal of Human Resource Management, 6(3), 656670.
Edelman, L. F., Brush, C. G., & Manolova, T. (2005). Co-alignment in the resource–performance relationship: Strategy as mediator. Journal of Business Venturing, 20(3), 359383.
Edwards, P., & Wright, M. (2001). High-involvement work systems and performance outcomes: The strength of variable, contingent and context-bound relationships. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 12(4), 568585.
Ferris, G. R., Galang, M. C., Thornton, M. L., & Wayne, S. J. (1995). A power and politics perspective on human resource management. In G. R. Ferris, S. D. Rosen, & D. T. Barnum (Eds.), Handbook of human resource management (pp. 100114). Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers.
Freeman, R. B., & Medoff, J. L. (1984). What do unions do?. New York, NY: Basic Books.
Frost, P. J., & Egri, C. P. (1991). The political process of innovation. Research in Organizational Behavior, 13, 229295.
Galang, M. C., & Ferris, G. R. (1997). Human resource department power and influence through symbolic action. Human Relations, 50(11), 14031426.
Gilbert, C., Winne, S. D., & Sels, L. (2011). The influence of line managers and HR department on employees’ affective commitment. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 22(8), 16181637.
Godard, J. (2001). High performance and the transformation of work? The implications of alternative work practices for the experienced and outcomes of work. Industrial and Labor Relations Reviews, 54(4), 776805.
Golden, K. A., & Ramanujam, V. (1985). Between a dream and a nightmare: On the integration of the human resource management and strategic business processes. Human Resource Management, 24(4), 429452.
Grant, R. M. (1996). Toward a knowledge-based theory of the firm. Strategic Management Journal, 17(S2), 109122.
Guest, D., & Bryson, A. (2009). From industrial relations to human resource management: The changing role of the personnel function. In W. Brown, A. Bryson, J. Forth, & K. Whitfield (Eds.), The evolution of the modern workplace (pp. 120150). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Guest, D., Michie, J., Conway, N., & Sheehan, M. (2003). Human resource management and corporate performance in the UK. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 41(2), 291314.
Guest, D. E. (2011). Human resource management and performance: Still searching for some answers. Human Resource Management Journal, 21(1), 313.
Guthrie, J. P. (2001). High-involvement work practices, turnover, and productivity: Evidence from New Zealand. Academy of Management Journal, 44(1), 180190.
Guthrie, J. P., Spell, C. S., & Nyamori, R. O. (2002). Correlates and consequences of high involvement work practices: The role of competitive strategy. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 13(1), 183197.
Hailey, V. H., Farndale, E., & Truss, C. (2005). The HR department’s role in organisational performance. Human Resource Management Journal, 15(3), 4966.
Hair, J. F., Tatham, R. L., Anderson, R. E., & Black, W. (2006). Multivariate data analysis. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Hoon, C. (2007). Committees as strategic practice: The role of strategic conversation in a public administration. Human Relations, 60(6), 921952.
Huselid, M. A. (1995). The impact of human resource management practices on turnover, productivity, and corporate financial performance. Academy of Management Journal, 38(3), 635672.
Ichniowski, C., Shaw, K., & Prennushi, G. (1997). The effects of human resource management practices on productivity: A study of steel finishing lines. The American Economic Review, 87(3), 291313.
Jackson, S. E., & Schuler, R. S. (1995). Understanding human resource management in the context of organizations and their environments. Annual Review of Psychology, 46, 237264.
Jackson, S. E., Schuler, R. S., & Rivero, J. C. (1989). Organizational characteristics as predictors of personnel practices. Personnel Psychology, 42(4), 727786.
Jiang, K., Hu, K., & Baer, J. (2012). How does human resource management influence organizational outcomes: A meta analytic investigation of mediating effects. Academy of Management Journal, 55(6), 12641294.
Kehoe, R. R., & Wright, P. M. (2013). The impact of high performance HR practices on employees’ attitudes and behaviors. Journal of Management, 39(2), 366391.
Khilji, S. E., & Wang, X. (2006). Intended and implemented HRM: The missing linchpin in strategic international human resource management research. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 17(7), 11711189.
Kim, H., & Kang, S.-C. (2011). Strategic HR functions and firm performance: The moderating effects of high-involvement work practices. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 30(1), 91113.
Kim, K., & Cho, B. (2008). A study on the relationships between HRM and organizational outcomes: Mediating effects of employee attitude as an HRM performance. Korean Journal of Management, 16(1), 115157.
Kim, S., & Ryu, S. (2011). Social capital of the HR department, HR’s change agent role, and HR effectiveness: Evidence from South Korean firms. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 22(8), 16381653.
Kinnie, N., Hutchinson, S., Purcell, J., Rayton, B., & Swart, J. (2005). Satisfaction with HR practices and commitment to the organization: Why one size does not fit. Human Resource Management Journal, 15(4), 929.
Kline, R. B. (2005). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Guilford.
Kossek, E. E. (1987). Human resource management innovations. Human Resource Management, 26(1), 7192.
Kwon, K. W., Jeong, D. Y., & Bae, J. (2010). The determinants and consequences of high performance work systems. Quarterly Journal of Labor Policy, 10, 125152.
Lawler, E. E. III, & Mohrman, S. A. (2003). HR as a strategic partner: What does it take to make it happen? Human Resource Planning, 26(3), 1529.
Lengnick-Hall, M. L., Lengnick-Hall, C. A., Andrade, L. S., & Drake, B. (2009). Strategic human resource management: The evolution of the field. Human Resource Management Review, 19(2), 6485.
Lepak, D. P., Taylor, M. S., Tekleab, A. G., Marrone, J. A., & Cohen, D. J. (2007). An examination of the use of high-investment human resource systems for core and support employees. Human Resource Management, 46(2), 223246.
Liao, H., Toya, K., Lepak, D. P., & Hong, Y. (2009). Do they see eye to eye? Management and EE perspectives of HPWS and influence processes on service quality. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94(2), 371391.
Long, C. S., Ismail, W. K. W., & Amin, S. M. (2013). The role of change agent as mediator in the relationship between HR competencies and organizational performance. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 24(10), 20192033.
MacDuffie, J. P. (1995). Human resource bundles and manufacturing performance: Organizational logic and flexible production systems in the world auto industry. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 48(2), 197221.
Macky, K., & Boxall, P. (2007). The relationship between ‘high performance work practices’ and employee attitudes: An investigation of additive and interaction effects. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 18(4), 537567.
March, J. (1962). The business firm as a political coalition. Journal of Politics, 24(4), 662678.
Martell, K., & Carroll, S. (1995). How strategic is HRM? Human Resource Management, 34(2), 253267.
Martin-Alcazar, F., Romero-Fernandez, P. M., & Sanchez-Gardey, G. (2005). Strategic human resource management: Integrating the universalistic, contingent, configurational, and contextual perspectives. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 16(5), 633659.
McGourty, J., Lemuel, T., & Dominick, P. (1996). Managing innovation: Lessons from world class organizations. International Journal of Technology Management, 11(3/4), 354368.
Messersmith, J., Pankaj, P., Lepak, D. P., & Gould-Williams, J. S. (2011). Unlocking the black box: Exploring the link between high-performance work systems and performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96(6), 11051118.
Mokken, R. J., & Stokman, F. N. (1976). Power and influence as political phenomena. In B. Barry (Ed.), Power and political theory: Some European perspectives (pp. 3354). London: Wiley.
Morris, S. S., & Snell, S. A. (2011). Intellectual capital configurations and organizational capability: An empirical examination of human resource subunits in the multinational enterprise. Journal of International Business Studies, 42(6), 805827.
Morrison, E. W., & Bies, R. J. (1991). Impression management in the feedback-seeking process: A literature review and research agenda. Academy of Management Review, 16(3), 522541.
Mossholder, W., Hettie, K., Richardson, A., & Settoon, R. P. (2011). Human resource systems and helping in organizations: A relational perspective. Academy of Management Review, 35(1), 3352.
Nikandrou, I., & Papalexandris, N. (2007). The impact of M&A experience on strategic HRM practices and organizational effectiveness: Evidence from Greek firms. Human Resource Management Journal, 17(2), 155177.
Nishii, L. H., Lepak, D. P., & Schneider, B. (2008). Employee attributions of the ‘why’ of HR practices: Their effects on employee attitudes and behaviors, and customer satisfaction. Personnel Psychology, 61(3), 503545.
Novicevic, M., & Harvey, M. (2001). The changing role of the corporate HR function in global organizations of the twenty-first century. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 12(8), 12511268.
Nunnally, J. C. (1978). Psychometric theory (2nd ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Nyberg, A. J., Moliterno, T. P., Hale, D., & Lepak, D. P. (2014). Resource-based perspectives on unit-level human capital: A review and integration. Journal of Management, 40(1), 316346.
Ouchi, W. G. (1981). Theory Z: How American business can meet the Japanese challenge. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Pfeffer, J. (1994). Competitive advantage through people. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
Pfeffer, J. (2010). Power: Why some people have it and others don’t. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
Piening, E. P., Baluch, A. M., & Salge, T. O. (2013). The relationship between employees’ perceptions of human resource systems and organizational performance: Examining mediating mechanisms and temporal dynamics. Journal of Applied Psychology, 98(6), 926947.
Podsakoff, P. M., MacKenzie, S. B., Lee, J. Y., & Podsakoff, N. P. (2003). Common method biases in behavioral research: A critical review of the literature and recommended remedies. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88(5), 879903.
Podsakoff, P. M., & Organ, D. W. (1986). Self-reports in organizational research: Problems and prospects. Journal of Management, 12(4), 531544.
Posthuma, R. A., Campion, M. C., Masimova, M., & Campion, M. A. (2013). A high performance work practices taxonomy: Integrating the literature and directing future research. Journal of Management, 39(5), 11841220.
Purcell, J., Kinnie, N., Swart, J., Rayton, B., & Hutchinson, S. (2009). People management and performance. Oxford, UK: Routledge.
Raes, A. M., Heijltjes, M. G., Glunk, U., & Roe, R. A. (2011). The interface of the top management team and middle managers: A process model. Academy of Management Review, 36(1), 102126.
Richard, O. C., & Johnson, N. B. (2001). Strategic human resource management effectiveness and firm performance. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 12(2), 299310.
Rifkin, S. B. (2003). A framework linking community empowerment and health equity: It is a matter of choice. Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition, 21, 168180.
Rose, R., & Kumar, N. (2006). The influence of organizational and human resource management. Performance Improvement, 45(4), 1824.
Rowley, C., & Bae, J. (2004). Big business in South Korea: The reconfiguration process. Asia Pacific Business Review, 10(3–4), 302323.
Russ, G. S., Galang, M. C., & Ferris, G. R. (1998). Power and influence of the human resources function through boundary spanning and information management. Human Resource Management Review, 8(1), 125148.
Shaw, J., Park, T., & Kim, E. (2013). A resource-based perspective on human capital losses, HRM, investments, and organizational performance. Strategic Management Journal, 34(5), 572589.
Sheehan, C., Cooper, B., Holland, P., & De Ceri, H. (2007). The relationship between HRM avenues of political influence and perceived organizational performance. Human Resource Management, 46(4), 611630.
Simpson, J. A., Farrell, A. K., Orina, M. M., & Rothman, A. J. (2014). Power and social influence in relationships. In M. Mikulincer, & P. R. Shaver (Eds.), APA handbook of personality and social psychology Vol. 3: Interpersonal relations (pp. 393420). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Subramony, M. (2009). A meta-analytic investigation of the relationship between HRM bundles and firm performance. Human Resource Management, 48(5), 745768.
Sun, L. Y., Aryee, S., & Law, K. S. (2007). High performance human resource practices, citizenship behavior, and organizational performance: A relational perspective. Academy of Management Journal, 50(3), 558577.
Takeuchi, R., Lepak, D. P., Wang, H., & Takeuchi, K. (2007). An empirical examination of the mechanisms mediating between high performance work systems and the performance of Japanese organizations. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92(4), 10691083.
Tedeschi, J. T., & Melburg, V. (1984). Impression management and influence in the organization. In S. B. Bacharach, & E. J. Lawler (Eds.), Research in the sociology of organizations (pp. 3158). Greenwich, CT: JAI.
Teo, S. T., & Rodwell, J. J. (2003). HR involvement, strategic integration and performance of public sector HR department in Australia. In D. H. Nagao (Ed.), Paper presented at the Annual Meetings of the Academy of Management, Proceedings of the Sixty-Third Annual Meetings of the Academy of Management (CD) (pp. E1–E6). Seattle, WA: Academy of Management.
Truss, C. (2001). Complexities and controversies in linking HRM with organizational outcomes. Journal of Management Studies, 38(8), 11211149.
Truss, C., Gratton, L., Hailey, V. H., Stiles, P., & Zaleska, J. (2002). Paying the piper: Choice and constraint in changing HR functional roles. Human Resource Management Journal, 12(2), 3963.
Uen, J. F., Ahlstrom, D., Chen, S. Y., & Tseng, P. W. (2012). Increasing HR’s strategic participation: The effect of HR service quality and contribution expectations. Human Resource Management, 51(1), 324.
Ulrich, D., & Brockbank, W. (2005). The HR value proposition. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
Van de Ven, A. H., & Ferry, D. L. (1980). Measuring and assessing organizations. New York, NY: Wiley.
Van De Voorde, K., Paauwe, J., & Van Veldhoven, M. (2010). Predicting business unit performance using employee surveys: Monitoring HRM-related changes. Human Resource Management Journal, 20(1), 4463.
Venkatraman, N., & Ramanujam, V. (1986). Measurement of business performance in strategy research: A comparison of approaches. Academy of Management Review, 11(4), 801814.
Wall, T., & Wood, S. J. (2005). The romance of human resource management and business performance and the case for big science. Human Relations, 58(4), 134.
Weber, M. (1978). Economy and society: An outline of interpretive sociology. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Welbourne, T. M. (2005). Leaders talk about executing strategy. IHRIM Link, 10(4), 2325.
Welbourne, T. M., & Andrews, A. O. (1996). Predicting the performance of initial public offerings: Should human resource management be in the equation? Academy of Management Journal, 39(4), 891919.
Welbourne, T. M., & Cyr, L. A. (1999). The human resource executive effect in initial public offering firms. Academy of Management Journal, 42(5), 616629.
Whitener, M. (2001). Do ‘high commitment’ human resource practices affect employee commitment? A cross-level analysis using hierarchical linear modeling. Journal of Management, 27(5), 515535.
Wolfe, R. R. (1995). Human resource management innovation: Determinants of their adoption and implementation. Human Resource Management, 34(2), 313327.
Womack, J. P., Jones, D. T., & Roos, D. (1990). The machine that changed the world. New York, NY: Rawson Books.
Wood, S., Van Veldhoven, M., Croon, M., & de Menezes, L. M. (2012). Enriched job design, high involvement management and organizational performance: The mediating roles of job satisfaction and well-being. Human Relations, 65(4), 419444.
Wright, P. M., Dunford, B. B., & Snell, S. A. (2001). Human resources and the resource based view of the firm. Journal of Management, 27(6), 701721.
Wright, P. M., Gardner, T. M., Moynihan, L. M., & Allen, M. R. (2005). The relationship between HR practices and firm performance: Examining causal order. Personnel Psychology, 58(2), 409446.
Wright, P. M., McMahan, G. C., McCormick, B., & Sherman, W. S. (1998). Strategy, core competence, and HR involvement as determinants of HR effectiveness and refinery performance. Human Resource Management, 37(1), 1729.
Youndt, M. A., Snell, S. A., Dean, J. W., & Lepak, D. P. (1996). Human resource management, manufacturing strategy, and firm performance. Academy of Management Journal, 39(4), 836866.


The impact of high-performance work systems on firm performance: The moderating effects of the human resource function’s influence

  • Dae Yong Jeong (a1) and Myungweon Choi (a1)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed