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Human resource management in the North American automotive industry: A meta-analytic review

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Purpose ‐ This article aims to provide a quantitative review of the range and effects of human resource management (HRM) practices in the North American automotive industry. Design/methodology/approach ‐ A total of 14 studies provided data for an employee-level meta-analysis of the relationships comprising high performance work systems in the automotive manufacturing sector. As an extension of research in this context, we hypothesized that three clusters of organizational practices (work systems, HR policies, and leadership) would be associated with two clusters of employee-level psychosocial outcomes (person-focused, organizational-focused) which, in turn, would be related to employee performance. Findings ‐ It was found that work systems and HR policies related to both person-focused (comprising individual job satisfaction, health, self-esteem, and social support) and organization-focused (comprising organizational commitment and perceptions of organizational justice) outcomes. The leadership cluster had a strong association with the person-focused outcomes. Organizational ‐ but not personal-focused outcomes were associated with employee performance comprising employee effectiveness, self-ratings of performance, turnover, and absenteeism. Research limitations/implications ‐ The results from this study provide support for the role of employee-level psychosocial outcomes as mechanisms between HRM practices and employee performance, supporting an idea that is often discussed but rarely tested in the literature. These results need to tempered by the fact that this meta-analysis was based on a relatively small number of studies in one industrial sector, thereby limiting the generalizability of the model. Practical implications ‐ These data suggest that managing with a high-involvement orientation is associated with positive consequences for individuals and organizations within the automotive industry. The paper is not espousing the view that technologically-focused systems are of little value in manufacturing industries, but rather that taking a more humanistic approach to how they are implemented may benefit all parties involved. Originality/value ‐ This paper provides an empirical review of HRM practices and outcomes in the automotive manufacturing context. The role of leadership in these systems is highlighted. The results offer guidance to researchers and practitioners interested in researching and managing the human side of automobile manufacturing.
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Keywords: Automotive industry; Human resource management; Job analysis; Management information systems; North America

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-02-13

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