Table of Contents
In the business world today, success is determined largely by the role that people play within the organizational set-up. According to Zarutskie (2010), the above revelation is particularly applicable to firms that engage in the service sector with relatively low capital costs but high people costs. Wales, Monsen and McKelvie (2011) described “people companies” as those entities that face high employee costs compared to capital costs. In business enterprises of this nature, value creation targets human resources because the creativity or lack of it, determines the performance of the firm.
The role of people in service firms elevates the place of human resource management. In their study, Unger, Rauch, Frese and Rosenbuch (2011) observed that financial returns are remised on the efforts of workers. As a result, the management has a duty to note that HRM is a core operational process rather than a subordinate function. Such a requirement pushes line managers to play a pivotal role towards enhancing employee productivity. Similarly, it becomes onerous on the management to align employee expectations with those of the organization in an effort to ensure improved performance. In brief, employees must be engaged and kept productive at all times.
Given the high level of competition and certain disruptions such as economic downturns, HR teams must look for novel ways to gain an edge in their areas of operation. To survive the hostile business environment, Slevin and Terjesen (2011) indicated that innovation should form the basis of companies. Innovative approaches are those that motivate workers to use their skills optimally. The above approach is likely to make a contribution to the overall performance of an organization since a motivated employee expends more effort towards task execution (Slevin & Terjesen 2011). In addition, motivational arrangements give the promise of raising employee morale, an aspect that is critical to increased performance through reduced squabbling, as well as enhanced efforts and diligence. If innovative HRM practices facilitate motivation, then realizing tangible benefits becomes possible for the firms involved. However, caution must be exercised because not all innovations lead to positive results.
Statement of the Research Problem
The link between innovative human resource management practices and employee job involvement and organizational commitment has been subject to extensive investigation. Edralin (2011), Andries and Czarnitzki (n.d.) and Jiang, Wang and Zhao (2012) are among the researchers who have studied the innovation at HRM and organizational outcomes. Edralin (2011) focused on how innovative HRM practices could predict organizational commitment and job involvement while Jiang, Wang and Zhao (2012) concentrated on the role of HRM in facilitating employee creativity as well as organizational innovation. On the other hand, Andries and Czarnitzki (n.d.) targeted small-scale firms in evaluating the effect of innovation on job involvement. Like many related studies such as by Schneider and Veugelers (2010); Pérez-Luño, Wiklund & Valle Cabrera (2011); Upadhya (2008); Patzelt, zu Knyphausen-Aufse & Fischer (2009) and Klaas, Klimchak, Semadeni et al. (2010), few have paid attention to the UAE region. More specifically, existing studies have explored the topic across different contexts, an aspect that raises concerns about the universalizability of their findings. In other words, despite the existence of many studies on the topic the case of the UAE as regards to the topic remains unclear. Against this backdrop, it is necessary to carry out a study to determine the impact of innovative human resource management practices in predicting organizational commitment and employee involvement.
Primarily, the research focuses on the influence of the adoption of innovative human resource practices on organizational/ employee outcomes with specific focus on organizational commitment and job involvement. Consequently, the overall study question is: what is the association between innovative human resource practices and employee job involvement, organizational commitment and related outcomes in selected firms from the UAE region. The question is further broken down for purposes of easy evaluation as shown below.
- What is the state of innovation in HRM within the UAE?
- What is the relationship between innovative HRM practices and job involvement?
- What is the association between innovative HRM practices and organizational commitment?
From the above, it is evident that the study takes an interest in the role of innovation in HRM, and the subsequent effect on employee and organizations outcomes. As a result, the study seeks to explain innovative human resource practices as predictors of employee job involvement, organizational commitment and related outcomes in selected firms from the UAE region. Specific objectives are stated below:
- To explore the state of HRM innovation in the UAE
- To explain the relationship between innovative HRM practices and job involvement
- To establish the association between innovative HRM practices and organizational commitment
Study Rationale/ Justification
Presently, many organizations acknowledge the need for the adoption and sustenance of progress-oriented human resource programs. Consequently, there is a need to understand when innovations in HRM yield positive and when they fail to achieve their target goals. Despite the widespread implementation of innovative practices, not all organizations proceed to appraise their effectiveness (Hall, Lotti & Mairesse 2009). What is more, despite the adoption of innovation in HRM with the primary objective of improving employee outcomes such as job involvement and overall organizational commitment, it is not guaranteed that they will precede the attainment of the aims. Against this backdrop, the study perceives the adoption of innovations in HRM practices as a part of a broad business strategy, and proceeds to explore the association between such practices and selected HR outcomes (organizational commitment and job involvement).
From the above, it is evident that the use of innovation in HR practices is common. However, the effectiveness of such practices remains unclear since organizations that deploy the strategy are not certain as to the outcome of the process. In other words, the effectiveness of the innovative strategies remains a grey area that needs additional information. On this basis, the proposed research is justified on the basis that it seeks to add clarity to an issue of current interest within the purview of human resource management.
Often, the introduction of new ways of handling organizational activities or processes attracts some confusion. Employee attitudes raise some of the concerns that managers have to tackle if any process is to succeed (De Winne & Sels 2010). Although HRM practices might be designed perfectly well, if they are implemented in a hostile environment, the probability of success becomes small. The problem pertaining to measuring or evaluating the effectiveness of organizational HRM practices is that it requires time. According to De Winne and Sels (2010), after the deployment of a strategy, adequate time is required before determining their effectiveness. Hence, acceptance of the HRM changes does not form a sufficient reason to believe that they have been effective. Against this backdrop, the current study is justified in the sense that it seeks to address unanswered problems regarding the use of innovative HRM practices.
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Extensive research has focused on the connection between innovative HRM and organizational outcomes. For instance, in a study, titled Innovative human resource management practices as predictors of employee involvement and organizational commitment, Edralin (2011) investigated innovative HRM practices that impacted the involvement of employees and commitment to organizations. Specifically, the above study drew a large sample from big corporations operating in the Philippines. Based on the study, many companies were implementing HRM-related innovations in an effort to enhance productivity through employee involvement as well as organizational commitment. In the study, HRM functions involved included employee training, employee relations, recruitment and selection. From the results, Edralin (2011) established that compensation, performance management, employee relations, recruitment and selection were strong predictors of organizational commitment. In addition, employee relations were found to be the most critical factor of both organizational commitment and job involvement.
Another useful study on the topic was the one carried out by Jiang, Wang and Zhao (2012). Towards meeting their objective of establishing the connection between HRM practices, organizational innovation and employee creativity, Jiang et al. (2012) drew a sample of 106 entities from China. In an effort to control for bias, the above authors used stratified sampling as they divided the population into three sub-groups. Based on the results of the study, 4 HRM practices (teamwork, hiring & selection, job design and rewarding) had a positive correlation with the creativity of employees. However, performance appraisal and training did not have a significant association with the latter variables. On the basis of their results, Jiang et al. (2012) indicated that employee creativity was an important intervening variable between the four HRM attributes and organizational innovativeness. Further, the above researchers suggested that HRM components could play a critical role in the management of people with the overall objective of promoting innovativeness and organizational effectiveness in the organizational environment.
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Andries and Czarnitzki (n.d.) are among researchers who have investigated the topic. In particular, the two scholars focused on small-scale firms’ innovation and employee involvement. In their study, the above writers indicated that firms pursue competitive advantage as part of strategic management. In this regard, Andries and Czarnitzki (n.d.) acknowledged that technological innovation was frequently referenced as one of the primary bases of a competitive edge. In addition, Andries and Czarnitzki (n.d.) established that the capacity of organizations to innovate was closely related to their intellectual capital or ability to use individual knowledge to the advantage.
In conducting their research, Andries and Czarnitzki (n.d.) observed that chief executive officers of small scale businesses relied on their individual knowledge in the development of innovations. After a review of the literature, Andries and Czarnitzki (n.d.) came to the conclusion that such frameworks were inadequate because they did not involve employees. Against this backdrop, Andries and Czarnitzki (n.d.) studied the degree to which managers alongside managerial employees' opinions contributed towards innovation performance. In other words, the researchers were interrogating the degree to which employee involvement affected innovation within organizations. The writers relied on the Heckman Selection model and identified 305 small-scale organizations for evaluation. After the review of the data, Andries and Czarnitzki (n.d.) concluded that employee involvement was critical towards the generation of innovative ideas concerning work execution. The above research introduces a new angle such that its involvement that influences innovation rather than the other way round. However, the two writers conceded that the level of contribution depended on the knowledge or expertise of the workers involved. What is more, the researchers cautioned against presuming that each approach is applicable to all organizations. In this regard, it is incumbent upon the firm to identify an approach that aligns with its strategic structure.
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Human resource practices have occupied a critical part in the pursuit of organizational effectiveness. Those who have reviewed the topic indicate that HR practices have the potential of influencing innovativeness, fir productivity and/ or growth. In this regard, Chaganti, Watts, Chaganti et al. (2008) explained that the strategic perspective of HRM practices emphasizes that organizations should implement a number of activities/ processes with the intention of motivating employees to play a part towards improving firm performance. Such includes innovation which involves the alignment of interests of employees and those of firms.
Innovative HRM practices alter the centrality of organizations. Research has shown that through innovative practices, it is possible to decentralize firm operations and contribute towards issues such as dispute resolution (Brundin, Patzelt & Shepherd 2008). In particular, empowering and involving frontline workers might allow for the unearthing and utilization of local or field knowledge in the management of organizational activities. Job involvement allows employees to contribute to innovation culture in the organization. In this regard, Bledow, Frese, Anderson et al. (2009) noted that job involvement is an incentive for the expending of additional efforts towards the handling of organizational activities.
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According to Upadhya (2009), innovative HR practices have been proposed by various scholars with the focus being on how they would increase organizational effectiveness such as retaining talented employees. Whereas some strategies have a direct effect on workers, many others rely on the action of line management for support as well as the nature of the association between employees and organizational leadership.
Empirical studies demonstrate that in large firms, a relationship exists between productivity and innovativeness (Bhagavatula, Elfring, van Tilburg & van de Bunt 2010). Further, the above two variables are associated with involvement and decentralization which extend to employee participation in decision-making, delegation of responsibilities, involvement in both formal and informal work and development of long-term plans. Studies also show that the adoption and sustenance of human resource management innovations is traceable to the obstacles that are linked to employee attitudes (Binoy 2012). Despite the expertise used to design innovative programs, if the attitude of the employees is questionable, the possibility of achieving desirable performance likewise becomes highly questionable. Another concern is that many studies have not bothered to interrogate the issue of quality in the adoption of innovation-led HRM.
The proposed study intends to deploy a cross-sectional study design in executing the research process. In practice, this type of study design concentrates on identifying variable attributes at a given point in time (Creswell & Plano 2011). In other words, the design is contrasted to the longitudinal design which concentrates on phenomena/variable differences across time periods.
The study will target the population of firms that operate within the UAE. From the target entities, respondents will be drawn from each firm to assist in data generation. The stratified sampling approach will be used in the selection of the sample. The application of the method aligns with the idea of dividing the population into different strata/ groups before picking the respondents for the research (Creswell & Plano 2011). The collected data will be presented in tables, pie charts, graphs for ease of analysis. The analysis will take a theme-based approach with specific reference to the research objectives. For purposes of cross-validation, the study also intends to compare the findings with those of the existing literature.
Conducting a study requires the deployment of a systematic approach. In the present case, the issue of interest is the place of innovative HRM as a predictor of organizational effectiveness and job involvement. Based on the preliminary paper, it appears that innovativeness in HR practices influences a number of organizational outcomes such as organizational commitment and job involvement. However, the literature in place does not show uniformity with part of it going a step further to clarify that the adoption of the practices does not guarantee positive outcomes. In addition, the topic is unclear as it relates to the UAE. Against this backdrop, the research is intended to bridge the gap in the literature by highlighting the UAE case.