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CEP discussion paper
HRM and Workplace Motivation: Incremental and Threshold Effects
Alex Bryson and Michael White
November 2011
Paper No' CEPDP1097:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: J28; L23; M12; M54

Tags: human resource management; high performance; organizational commitment

The HRM-performance linkage often invokes an assumption of increased employee commitment to the organization and other positive effects of a motivational type. We present a theoretical framework in which motivational effects of HRM are conditional on its intensity, utilizing especially the idea of HRM ‘bundling’. We then analyse the association between HRM practices and employees’ organisational commitment (OC) and intrinsic job satisfaction (IJS). HRM practices have significantly positive relationships with OC and IJS chiefly at high levels of implementation, but with important distinctions between the domain-level analysis (comprising groups of practices for specific domains such as employee development) and the across-domain or HRM-system level. Findings support a threshold interpretation of the link between HRM domains and employee motivation, but at the system-level both incremental and threshold models receive some support.