The universalism of Best Practice Essay

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Introduction When it comes to how to improve business performance as a whole, there are a variety of arguments linking HR practices to firm performance in the academia. One of the most remarkable is the notion of ‘best practice’ or ‘high commitment HR practices’ (HPWS). In the best practice thinking, a single set of HR practices can be universally applied into any workplaces and will definitely enhance workplace performance. Literatures have used the term ‘high performance work system’ and ‘high involvement HR practices’ synonymously (Harzing & Pinnington, 2011). There is no single agreed definition of best practice or these synonymous terms. Essentially, literatures advocating for the best practice have focused on universalism in HRM…show more content…
I will justify my argument, in this essay, by taking a glance at the empirical arguments and evidences for and against universalism of best practice, comparing and contrasting best practice and best fit and pointing out some limitations of the universalistic perspective. Universalistic perspective in best practice research Embedded in this universalistic view is the notion that a number of HR practices always and everywhere facilitate the performance improvement (such as productivity, financial performance and competitive advantage) and should be more effective when combined together to pursue competitive advantage (known as ‘bundles’ of HRM). There is strong support for the universalistic hypothesis. The best-known study representing the universalistic idea is Pfeffer (1998). He uses evidence from many industries and studies to demonstrate the impact of ‘putting people first’. He identifies a list of seven HR practices that can be a universal recipe to all workplaces to increase profit, including employment security, selective recruitment, self-management teams, performance-based pay, training and skill development, reduced status difference, and information sharing. There is no existing evidence for country-specific results. However, his argument has been criticised by Martin-Alcazar et al. (2005)
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