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Critically assess the extent to which HPWP relies on the intensification of work Essay


The high performance work practices abbreviated as HPWP denotes an all-purpose managerial representation encompassing several aspects. However, the description of High Performance Work Practices meadow proves to engage some involvedness. HPWP has conquered the modernization of human resource management.

In fact, studies conducted in the past fifteen years relating to the nature of high performance work practices and their implications on organizational performance have investigated various aspects of human resource (Bacon & Blyton, 2006). In the meantime, the employees’ outcome commitment polarizes as a result of the HPWP that increases the benefits of the organization.

The empirical studies have thrived to explore the impacts of High Performance Work Practices under widely contending perspectives. That is, High Performance Work Practices have optimistic and pessimistic results pertaining to both the institution and employees.

Among the benefits, include higher pay, employee commitment, elevated skills and training, group work, low labor turnover, profitability, and high productivity (Macky & Boxall, 2007). However, research states that negative effects may be seen in the workers experience, HPWP ensues due to higher level of dedication, participation, and good judgment.

The groundwork spill out, stress at work, workload, and accountability may overshadow these gains. Thus, work intensification is the eventual brunt of the High Performance Work Practices required of an organization’s workforce.

The degree at which the principles of High Performance Work Practices are affected by work intensification is the major purpose of this paper. Initially, the paper scrutinizes the relationship between work intensification and HPWP. The paper identifies the divergent sources of effects amid the negative and positive HPWP outlooks on an organization’s staff.

The paper then assesses the linkages between performance and organizational practices as well as the route to performance outcomes, and how organizations measure the performance outcomes. The paper looks at certain established perspectives of HPWP and their effects on human resources.

The relationship between HPWPs and work intensification

Despite the proofs offered by literature on the management of human resources, such available proofs at the moment insinuates that work intensification is a possible result provided the proprietor does not appropriately employ High Performance Work Practices.

Possibly, the staff has drawn in high performance working by merely engaging more or fresh practices in this reverence. High Performance Work Practices may be or may not be the best practice. The interconnected activities such as human resource procedures, practices, programs, strategies, and philosophies are enclosed in the strategic HRM as Bacon and Blyton (2006) argue.

The corporation’s HR philosophy reflects the endeavors to establish high performing labor force as indicated by the framework developed by Schuler (1992). Thus, the architecture of processes, practices, programs, and policies reflects this directly.

The policies building up high performance measure while recompensing the workforce forms part of the architecture of the best practice and HPWPs. Indeed, the best practice is evident in any human resource philosophy employing HPWPs as the basis of HRM policy to put into practice the company’s exterior and internal plans.

The practices performance link

The employer-employee mutual benefits are feasible through High Performance Work Practices. As argued in the HPWPs unitarist viewpoint, the workforce gains from the meaningful and varied vocation sense of value, as well as the superior discretion of task. The employees may experience the gains through the developmental or direct participation.

On the other hand, the employers gain from having the staffs that are devoted, aggravated, and extra committed. Such labor force will employ their novelty and inventiveness to work under minimum supervision by liberally connecting with other workers to nature the quality of their work. In effect, these human resources are eager to work since they get that empowerment to carry out the assigned tasks.

Braverman (1974) put forward that such employees are less likely to be absent from work or even avoid accomplishing their tasks. Besides, the other benefit according to Guthrie (2001) and Arthur (1994) indicates that workers are less prone to flee the corporation for another as a result of such work intensification.

The above work intensifications will augment the chances of High Performance Work Practices. However, these mutual benefits also do come with the cost constraints to both the employer and the employees. The employees in this case are entitled to identify with the organizational performance objectives. Moreover, they are obliged to put in additional discretionary hard work and acknowledge high responsibility exertions.

Nevertheless, the employers have to rely on the staffs that are less replaceable and meet high costs of finance involving the reorganization of work, workforce development and training (Macky & Boxall, 2007). Through work intensification, the employers are also expected to give up particular controls to their workforce hence, HPWP.

In regard to the pluralist backing of High Performance Work Practices, the approach visualizes a situation of a lose-win for workers and employers. The condition of a win-lose condition comes as a result of the oblique or direct derivation of the HPWP model benefits from the intensification of work.

The comprehension of this perspective relies on the involvement of the introduced schemes of high performance by way of inevitable reductions of staff and work enlargement. In general, the workforces incur the overheads whereas the profits are for the most part enjoyed by the companies.

Through this, the employees have to recompense for the gains of performance by means of the responsibility shifted from encumbers to the direct occupation losses. Thus, the ultimate result will see the workers subordinate their interest to those of the corporation and induce themselves to extra labor (Braverman, 1974).

Therefore, it is imperative to analyze the route of organizational and workforce performance as well as whether the work intensification or high motivation of the employees brings about High Performance Work Practices.

The route to organizational and employees performance outcomes

The abilities, motivation, and opportunities description of Purcell and Boxall (2003) envision inter linear subject amid the impacts of the approved practices on the employees and organizational performance. High Performance Work Practices influences the performance results consistency based on the AMO model in several manners.

Initially, the performance capability and the capacity of workers modify in that the practices affect the aptitudes of the employees in regard to level of skills and knowledge. The inspiration levels to install such skills and knowledge are also pretentious owing to the effect of practices on the employee’s attitudes. Finally, there is the entire use of the improved abilities due to the opportunities created by High Performance Work Practices.

Higher performance bounds are set up by the capabilities of the workers. A number of proofs advocate that High Performance Work Practices assists in the development of knowledge and skills with respect to enhancing the abilities of an employee. Other studies assert that High Performance Work Practices are related to a variety of fresh skills.

For that matter, HPWP model generates the supplementary and extensive learning environs as a result of the facilitated workplace knowledge. Besides, Bacon and Blyton (2006) emphasize that the inequities of skills amid non-standard and full time human resources is abridged potentially by the High Performance Work Practices.

Conversely, the extents at which actions emerge from High Performance Work Practices get influence from motivation. The commitment effects surveyed emerges from several lines of investigation involving HPWPs. and inspiration.

The amplified commitment in an organization commonly improves the levels of motivation as established by innumerable scholars. Indeed, this improvement increases particularly due to high reimbursement, better involvement of workforce in the decision making processes, improved processes of airing complaints, and the utilization of flexible job preparations.

In regard to the general high rate of work satisfaction, Boxall and Macky (2007) discovered that members of staff embracing HPWPs are more motivated. Equally, for the competencies of goaded workers to be articulated, the opportunities enhance the boulevard in view of the rapport amid opportunities and HPWPs. The workers opportunity to labor to the full competence is provided for by the High Performance Work Practices.

The employee can meet this through enhancing the shared information and collaboration. Moreover, the relaxation of some designs of work and structures in the organization might enable workers to utilize their capabilities (Guthrie, 2001).

Measuring performance outcomes

From the perspective of organizations and business sector, Verburg and Hartog (2004) assert that performance in finance is measured through computing the development measure, returns on markets, proceeds, equity, asset returns, and sales return. However, measures regarding the performance of an operation are in form of productivity, legality on management, suppleness, satisfaction at work, and labor turnover.

Similarly, the labor divisions of output, time of production, as well as the amount produced per worker are all measures of productivity Whether or not the sources of gauging performance arrive from multipart, solitary or self-coverage administration resources makes some of the unduly answered queries.

The other bottleneck is evident in the informal demeanor in relationship amid performance and High Performance Work Practices plus the discrepancies in measuring performance. Thus, there is lack of cross-sectional research to compare performance measure with regards to High Performance Work Practices. However, work intensification surely brings about HPWP.

Youndt et al. (1996) analyze the main twenty-five explorations of HPWPs and performance in an organization and found that its presumption is less convincing when reviewed systematically. In contrast, the effects of performance on High Performance Work Practices are positive according to meta-analysis of the ninety-two exploratory study.

The research found that twenty percent (20%) of the organizational disparities obtainable utility comes from HPWPs. In fact, this statistical aggregation counteracts the impacts of the artifacts of methodology and errors of dimension and sampling. As such, the effect of High Performance Work Practices is both administratively and statistically pertinent to the organizational performance.

In addition, compared to other level of organizational observable fact this may appear like a slight impact however a significant finding according to Braverman (1974). In the same way, Godard (2004) found less convincing on complementarities evidences. Yet, Combs at al. (2005) considerably supported that the interactive effects of personal practices (14%) is two folded by the impacts of HPWPs (28%).

Various concepts have emerged to explain the extent at which work intensification contributes towards high performances work practices (HPWP). In fact, the two broadly acknowledged perspectives include the pluralists and unitarists’ concepts. According to these perspectives, HPWP can only be realized via following certain performance routes.

However, such routes must involve the output and input of an organization and the workforce. Despite the fact that the intensification of work leads to HPWP, scholars such as Godard (2004) as well as Geary and Dobbins (2001) claim that such practices could generate both positive and negative impacts on the organization and employees.

For instance, the employees and unions may be impacted negatively in cases where there rights are not fully represented. In such a situation, the employers will only generate the marginal performance gains. Hence, a “lose-lose” condition is attributed to the HPWP paradigm.

The Unitarist Perspective on HPWPs

The unitarist perspective with regard to HPWP brings together the idea that centering work organization and labor management around highly engaged, skilled, empowered and involved workers, it is possible to present a ‘win-win’ situation not only for the employees but also for the employer.

Inherently, higher performance is attained predominantly through the development of a more engaged and motivated workforce (Macky & Boxall, 2007).

Performance through Work-Intensification

There is almost a universal agreement between pluralist and unitarist perspectives that there is a common link between the adoption of HPWP and performance gains. However, there is also a clear difference between the two positions. This is specifically in trying to understand the ‘route’ by which the performance is achieved.

Severally, a wide array of researchers have suggested about exploring the link between practices and performance. They focus on the experiential impacts of high-performance work systems. In part, this involves the departure from the tendency in current research to depend on ‘input-output’ models of causality.

This is based on survey data. Contemporary, researchers have undertaken in-depth and more detailed research that explores how high-performance work systems are practically been enacted, implemented and experienced by employees.

Research that has followed the fore-mentioned approach has found significant variations into the translation of HPWP into practice (Godard, 2004). Godard suggests that the high-performance paradigm, might eventually involve a ‘lose-lose’ situation.

In markets or countries where employees seem to possess hardly any privileges of demonstration, the HPWP paradigm could probably affect negatively on both human resources and the organization or employees’ unions. At best, it will only have marginal performance gains for employers and organizations. The benefits of high-performance working are overrated by previous research according to Godard.

In fact, Godard distinguishes two types of high-performance systems: team systems and lean systems. Team systems accord employees in teams’ genuine autonomy. Usually, this does not involve just-in-time strategies but are commitment-based.

This system achieves performance through the ways envisioned in unitarist perspective. The lean system involves substantial managerial supervision. The system is efficiency-focused and inherently accompanies just-in-time inventory management. It follows the pluralist perspective of attaining performance through work-intensification.

The ‘lean’ model as illustrated by Danford et al’s (2005) during their investigation of high-performance working at two aerospace firms; Jetco and Airframes.

The researchers reported just biased confirmation of the enhancement in job prudence, elevated remuneration promise, and advanced expertise ranks, better involvement in the administrative processes, as well as additional promotional reimbursements for staffs under high-performance work systems. The authors found that there was considerable work-intensification.

Additionally, there was intensifying degrees of work-related pressure that were going together with the approval of the practice. From the available study literature, the admission to the organizational growth and further schooling in the two organizations was predominantly anchored on administrative evaluations. New graduates who were prioritized and favored by the management benefitted from training and development.

Work Intensification

Many other studies similarly report considerable levels of work-intensification. Green (2004) defines these studies as’…an increase in the proportion of effective labor performed for each hour of work…’ He notes that work-intensification involve higher levels of occupational stress that accompanies the introduction of HPWPs.

Supplementary research reports reveal that the actuality of the place of work high-performance functioning hardly pursues the ‘team’ paradigm but instead pursues the “lean” paradigm more directly where the expression of prototype fail to go with to its ratification.

On the other hand, various scholars propose that the preliminary system expenditure and high overheads necessitate upholding superior performance occupation schemes. These costs include training, development, wages and the general transformation of the workplace.

This necessitates a ‘lean’ mode and consequently encourages only partial and low level of adoption of the HPWPs. These expenditure and profit discrepancies seem to be predominantly adverse to the emerging organizations.

Additional research reports find a link between the use of HPWPs and downsizing of the workforce. This may be through layoffs as noted by Osterman (2007) or less harsh strategies such as voluntary redundancies. To some scholars, it is revealed that there is a divergence amid strategies concerning work-life equilibrium and HPWPs.

Sensitivity and implication of HPWPs

There are diverse connotations connected to the entity or managerial performances and unlike repercussions to human resources as designated via extra qualitative explorations. The enactments of ‘team-working’ have a distinguished difference under HPWPs compared to the ‘Scandinavian’- type model. The Scandinavian model involves significant employee discretion, complex task-working and high levels of team autonomy.

The ‘lean’ type model involves limited levels of autonomy and control. It involves the engagement with simple tasks. Commentators observe that the introduction of HPWPs by managers’ implementation of the team-working practices vary around the theme of self-interest.

According to Bacon and Blyton (2005), employees commonly believe that managers introduce team working for the benefit of their career advancement. This is in view of sizing down the workforce to increase profitability of the shareholders.

Respondents to the research indicated that the avenues by which organizations’ management attained compliance to the HPWPs programs was by actively favoring submissive individuals. These employees are promoted to advance the initiative of the implementing managers. On the contrary, the respondents (employees) are generally positive regarding the benefits of team working.

However, they had limited trust with regard to what they termed as ‘rhetoric’ of high-performance working. Co-operations and trust of workers with regard to the implementation of HPWPs is hard-won. Even positive changes are prone to cynical interpretation of management motives. The intensification of work may be positive to the career advancement of the employees.

However, when the employees perceive this as the ideology of the organization to overwork them so that the organization can save on labor, the outcomes are not as expected. The attitude of the employees towards the implementation of the HPWPs is hence imperative for the successful implementation of the programs.

The concern of confidence has been considered as fundamental via extensive explorations for the triumph or if not of towering presentation occupation schemes. Employees are less likely to accept the high-performance work systems if they have little trust in the management. Consequently, such issues have an intense bearing on whether or not HPWPs can promote levels of affective commitment (Macky and Boxall, 2007).

Danford et al. (2005) suggest that lack of trust between employees and employers is tragic to the employment relationship. The manifestation of the irreconcilable conflict of interest that emerges from the social relations between employees, managers and the employer usually leads to mistrust.


From this study, it is evident that there are two broadly speaking sides of the debate regarding the implementation of High-Performance Work Programs. There are those who argue for the positive benefits of HPWPs and those who are critiques as they see the negative impacts the practice can present to employees such as the creation of stress and dissatisfaction.

Although HPWPs are observed as having more benefits to the employees, employers and organizations, there are negative aspects to the same. Work-intensification is one of the benefits that employers achieve from the implementation of high-performance work systems. The intensification of work ensures that lesser workforce performs more work with better quality at a lower cost.

For organizations to ensure proper implementation of HPWPs and bring the desired results, it is imperative to ensure that the organizations create and develop a reinforcing environment that is sustained by the practices. From this study, it is evident that HPWPs can influence performance envisaged by the ‘route’ to performance outcomes.

The effects of HPWPs on intensification of work are inevitable since they seem to be founded on a range of operational and environmental factors particularly those that determine how practices are perceived and maintained.

Works Cited

Bacon, Nicolas, and Paul Blyton. “Union Co-operation in a Context of Job Insecurity. Negotiated Outcomes from Team-working.” British Journal of Industrial Relations. 44.2 (2006): 215-237. Print.

Braverman, Harry. Labor and Monopoly Capital: The Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century. London: New York Monthly Review Press, 1974. Print.

Geary, John, and Antony Dobbins. “Team Working: A new Dynamic in Pursuit of Management Control.” Human Resource Management Journal 11.1 (2001): 3-23. Print.

Godard, Joseph. “A Critical Assessment of the High-Performance Paradigm.” British Journal of Industrial Relations 42.2 (2004): 349-378. Print.

Guthrie, John. ”High-Involvement Work Practices, Turnover and Productivity: Evidence from New Zealand.” Academy of Management Journal 44.1 (2001): 180-190. Print.

Macky, Ken and Boxall, Paul. “The Relationship Between ‘High-Performance Work Practices’ and Employee Attitudes: An Investigation of Additive and Interaction Effects.” International Journal of Human Resource Management 18.4(2007): 537-567. Print.

Youndt, Mark et al. (1996). “Human Resource Management, Manufacturing Strategy, and Firm Performance.” Academy of Management Journal 39.2(1996): 836-866.Print.

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