The adoption of high performance work practices in small businesses: the influence of markets, business characteristics and HR expertise

Ning Wu*, Nick Bacon, Kim Hoque

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper explores the extent to which the adoption of high performance work practices (HPWPs) in UK small businesses with less than 50 employees is associated with the nature of the market in which the business operates, its business characteristics and its access to HR expertise. Drawing on data from the 2004 Workplace Employment Relations Survey, the analysis suggests that, where market-related factors are concerned, the uptake of HPWPs is higher in small businesses that require a highly skilled workforce but is unrelated to either the degree of market competition or the presence of large dominant customers. In terms of access to HR expertise, the analysis finds greater use of HPWPs in small businesses that have contact with external sources of HR advice via membership of business advisory networks or Investors in People (IiP) recognition. However, uptake is unrelated to the presence of personnel/HR specialists. Overall, the findings suggest that rather than depicting employment practices in small businesses as the inevitable consequence of market circumstances, encouraging greater small business involvement with business advisory networks and IiP may have the potential to increase the adoption of HPWPs in the sector.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1149-1169
JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
Volume25
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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