Knowledge strategies, firm types, and complementarity in Human-Resource Practices

  • Laursen K
  • Mahnke V
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This paper argues that complementary human resource practices play an important role in the development of a knowledge based theory of firm. In general, such a theory might be advanced through investigating complementary coordination mechanisms as components of governance struc- tures. In particular, human resource practice combinations contribute as coordination mechanisms to organise knowledge creation and exploitation in complex social relations. Yet, little is known about why and how innovation strategies and activity systems of different firm types relate to combina- tions of human resource practices. We address this gap by investigating the impact of firm types and knowledge strategies pursued on the application of human resource practices in a multisectoral sample of 684 manufacturing and 1,200 non-manufacturing firms.We find that the adoption of prac- tices applied differ with the characteristics of knowledge strategies and with firm types. In addition, after controlling for these differences, we find that complementarity effects among practices are present in varying degrees. The implications of our findings include that there are fewer restrictions to combinations of coordination mechanisms than widely assumed.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Complementarities
  • Human resource practices
  • Innovation
  • Knowledge coordination

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  • Keld Laursen

  • Volker Mahnke

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