Testing universalistic and contingency HRM assumptions across job levels

  • Clinton M
  • Guest D
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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the broad debate regarding universalistic and contingency perspectives of human resource management (HRM). Design/methodology/approach – Building on recent evidence of HRM differentiation within organisations, the present article studies variation in experienced HR practices across job level and whether the impact of HR practices on commitment, intention to quit and well-being across job level is best explained by universalistic or contingency claims. Findings – Both studies found that employees in higher job levels report a greater number of HR practices. Findings further indicated that the associations between HR practices and the three outcomes were largely invariant across job level, thus supporting universalistic notions of HRM across job levels. Research limitations/implications – Data from both studies were cross-sectional and single-source, thus limiting causal inferences. More generally, there is a need to better understand HR differentiation within organisations and whether it offers an effective HR strategy. Originality/value – Few studies have examined systematic variation in HR practices across employee groups and universalistic/contingency arguments within organisations. The studies presented are among the first to offer an evaluative as well as descriptive analysis of the issues under investigation.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Contingency
  • Differentiation
  • Human capital
  • Human resource management
  • Job level
  • Universalistic

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  • Michael Clinton

  • David E. Guest

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