my topic is communication in Business/Management, and this is a Literature Review Project.I already chosen four empirical research articles, and Clearly ties research and topic together; clearly summarizes research topics. ( use upload articles)each article should have one paragraph to explain and have clear transition sentences.all chosen articles should fit into a common theme and the paper should flow smoothly. thoroughness, clarity, original content, proper APA format (citations, references, cover page, headings), grammar, 5 pages
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The International Journal of Human Resource Management,
Vol. 24, No. 2, January 2013, 352–371
Employee performance management culture and system features
in higher education: relationship with employee performance
management satisfaction
Adelien Decramer*, Carine Smolders and Alex Vanderstraeten
Faculty of Business Administration and Public Administration, University College Ghent,
Ghent, Belgium
Little is known about the satisfaction with employee performance management systems
in higher education institutions. In this study, we contribute to this field by focussing
on the alignment features of employee performance management systems, on
communication related to these systems and on control tightness in the academic unit.
An important contribution to the literature is the adoption of an integrated approach to
employee performance management in higher education institutions. Employee
performance management system features and satisfaction result from a survey to which
589 employees of a Flemish University contributed. Separate estimations are done for
different tenure types of academics. The estimation results show that a higher level of
internally consistent employee performance management systems, more communication and tighter control are associated with higher academic employee performance
management satisfaction. The study also reveals that employee performance
management satisfaction depends on the tenure type, suggesting that a diversified
employee performance management policy should be considered in universities.
Keywords: communication; control tightness; employee performance management
systems; higher education; internal consistency; satisfaction; vertical alignment
Introduction
This article focuses on employee performance management systems in a university
context. The study explores the relationships between the characteristics of an employee
performance management system for research activities in higher education institutions
and the perceived satisfaction of academic employees with this system. This study aims at
contributing to the understanding of the outcomes of employee performance management
systems in the particular context of higher education.
In the last decade, the climate of higher education has been described as a ‘turbulent
environment’ (Middlehurst 2002). Several economic and political crises have had an
impact on higher education institutions. Higher education institutions have been
confronted with issues of expansion, decentralisation and financial pressures (Smeenk,
Teelken, Eisinga and Doorewaard 2009). In addition, these issues have been accompanied
by societal demands of accountability, efficiency and effectiveness (Chan 2001; Pollitt and
Bouckaert 2004). The changing environment has pressured higher education institutions to
seek ways to more actively manage their employees in order to meet with these
requirements.
*Corresponding author. Email: adelien.decramer@hogent.be
ISSN 0958-5192 print/ISSN 1466-4399 online
q 2013 Taylor & Francis
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09585192.2012.680602
http://www.tandfonline.com
The International Journal of Human Resource Management
353
At the same time, ‘managerialism’ has permeated into the management of universities
(Deem 1998; Ferlie, Musselin and Andresani 2008). As a response, many higher education
institutions have attempted – either voluntary or under pressure – to adopt new
management systems originally designed to meet the needs of business or private sector
organisations (Smeenk et al. 2009). Among these new management tools, employee
performance management systems are adopted by many higher education institutions in
Europe (Brennan and Shah 2000; Middlehurst 2004; Ferlie et al. 2008; Decramer,
Smolders, Vanderstraeten and Christiaens 2012). Employee performance management is a
‘continuous process of identifying, measuring and developing the employee performance
of individuals and teams and aligning employee performance with the strategic goals of
the organisation’ (Aguinis and Pierce 2008, p. 139).
There is a clear link between human resource management (HRM) and employee
performance management. Taking an employee performance management approach
involves aligning HRM practices in such a way that they maximise current as well as
future employee performance, which in turn is expected to affect organisational employee
performance (den Hartog, Boselie and Paauwe 2004).
There is a consensus in the literature that strategic HRM has a significant positive
impact upon an organisations’ employee performance (Delery and Doty 1996; Ichniowski,
Kochan, Levine, Olson and Strauss 1996). HRM scholars have examined this relationship
between HRM and organisational employee performance. According to the causal model
commonly accepted in the literature, employee performance management practices are
thought to lead to the development of a skilled workforce, which engages in behaviour
functional for the organisation (Wright, Dunford and Snell 2001). This results in increased
operating employee performance, which ultimately should result in higher output
(Boselie, Paauwe and Jansen 2001; Boxall, Purcell and Wright 2007). More specifically,
research points out that HR practices and systems have been positively associated with
employee well-being and organisational performance (Veld, Boselie and Paauwe 2010;
Van de Voorde, Paauwe and Van Veldhoven 2011), also in public sector organisations
(Gould-Williams 2004).
HRM policies and systems, and as such employee performance management systems,
should ultimately result in lower employee absence, higher satisfaction, greater
willingness to stay with the organisation and higher effort. These HRM outcomes have
been emphasised in many of the main HRM – employee performance models that
have been presented, developed and tested in the literature over the past 20 years (Paauwe
2009). Satisfaction of academic employees could mediate the relationships between HRM
practices, antecedents and the quality of job employee performances (Paauwe and
Richardson 1997).
The reason why we choose to examine the HRM outcome ‘satisfaction’ is fivefold.
The HRM outcome ‘satisfaction’ explains most of the variance in the academic unit’s
(research group or department) employee performance (Stolte-Heiskanen 1979). Second,
there is general consensus among researchers and practitioners that the assessment of
employee performance management reactions is important (Kuvaas 2006). It is argued
that the knowledge of perceptions towards employee performance management can
improve the understanding of effectiveness of employee performance management
(Wright and Boswell 2002; Liao, Toya, Lepak and Hong 2009). Research has primarily
focused on managerial reports of the use of HRM and employee performance management
ignoring individual employees’ actual experiences with these systems (Lepak, Liao,
Chung and Harden 2006). Paauwe (2009) argues that employee perceptions have to be
considered when examining the relationship between HRM and various kinds of both
354
A. Decramer et al.
individual- and organisational-level outcomes. Third, strategic HRM research has
predominantly taken a macro-level approach and focused on the establishment or
firm-level outcomes. To date, there is a ‘dearth of research aimed at understanding how
multiple (or systems of) HRM practices impact individuals’ (Wright and Boswell 2002,
p. 262). Fourth, the traditional research agenda was based on employee performance
appraisal, which is only one element of the system (Murphy and Cleveland 1995). This
study widens the concept and uses the employee performance management system as
dependent variable, which includes planning, monitoring and evaluation. Finally, much of
the foregoing employee performance appraisal studies has been conducted in laboratory
settings. This study will widen the concept of employee performance management and
tries to link integrated employee performance management systems with the HRM
outcome satisfaction in the ‘real-life’ context of higher education institutions.
In the next section, we review the literature and present the hypotheses to be tested
regarding the relationships among employee performance management systems and
perceived satisfaction. This is followed by a discussion of the dataset, the methods of
analysis, the results, and some concluding observations concerning the implications of the
research for the study and practice of employee performance management in higher
education institutions.
Theory
The study primarily builds on strategic HRM literature (Guest, Conway and Dewe 2004)
and employee performance management literature (Fletcher 2001; Armstrong and Baron
2004; den Hartog et al. 2004; DeNisi and Pritchard 2006). In addition, we elaborate on the
goal-setting theory (Locke and Latham 1990; Lee, Bobko, Earley and Locke 1991) and the
expectancy theory (Vroom 1964).
There are many definitions of employee performance management, but in general it is
associated with ‘creating a shared vision of the purpose and aims of the organisation,
helping each individual employee to understand and recognise their part in contributing to
them, and in so doing to manage and enhance the employee performance of both
individuals and the organisation’ (Fletcher and Williams 1996, p. 169). Employee
performance management has moved from a single HRM practice (employee performance
appraisal) to a variety of (HRM) activities through which organisations seek to assess
employees and develop their competences, enhance employee performance and distribute
rewards (Fletcher 2001; Aguinis and Pierce 2008). Over the past two decades, these
systems converted into strategic and integrated processes (Aguinis and Pierce 2008).
Proponents of employee performance management assume that this strategic and
integrated approach is necessary to achieve sustained organisational success and to
develop the capabilities of individuals and wider teams (Bach 2000; Fletcher 2001;
Armstrong and Baron 2004; Aguinis and Pierce 2008). This evolution reflects broader
trends in HRM (Bach 2005). The alignment between HRM or employee performance
management practices and the organisation’s strategy has been labelled ‘vertical fit’ (also
strategic fit). The emphasis is on linking individual employee performance appraisal to
corporate objectives, ensuring that there is a clear line of sight between organisational and
individual requirements (Boswell 2006).
In addition to alignment with strategy, researchers in this area have also highlighted
the importance of intertwining HRM practices (Arthur 1994; Delery 1998). Goal-setting,
monitoring and evaluation (Storey and Sisson 1993) are to be incorporated into a unified
and coherent framework meant to align individual employee performance goals with the
The International Journal of Human Resource Management
355
organisation’s wider objectives (Williams 2002; Aguinis and Pierce 2008). This horizontal
type of alignment (Aguinis and Pierce 2008) indicates the presence of an internally
consistent employee performance management system. Our research questions are
summarised below. Note that the presumed mechanisms linking employee performance
management system features with employee performance management satisfaction are
elaborated after these questions.
The study concentrates on employees’ satisfaction with the employee performance
management system. It investigates whether specific features of this employee
performance management system influence the satisfaction with this system in
universities. In addition, we examine the relation between the tenure status of the
respondents and the satisfaction with the employee performance management system.
Four hypotheses were tested.
To assess the system approach, (1) we are interested in the impact of the perceived
internal consistency of the system on satisfaction (e.g. the integrated approach or
horizontal alignment). (2) Next, we measure whether academic employees see how
employee goals fit in with organisational planning and objectives (e.g. the strategic feature
or vertical alignment) and how this influences their personal appraisal of employee
performance management systems. (3) In addition, this study focuses on effective internal
communication about employee performance management systems. (4) Are academics
more satisfied with employee performance management systems when there is a shared
understanding of and continuing dialogue and communication (Tang and SarsfieldBaldwin 1996; Erdogan 2002) about the goals of the academic employee and the standards
expected and the competencies needed? Next, satisfaction with the employee performance
management system is related to the control tightness of the academic unit of the academic
employee (4).
In the next paragraphs we further develop the tested hypotheses.
Internal consistency of the employee performance management system
Strategic HRM research (Boxall and Purcell 2011) argues that it is important to analyse the
HRM practices as a coherent system (Guest et al. 2004). The argument for the latter is that
HRM practices often complement each other (Ichniowski and Shaw 1999). MacDuffie
(1995) has shown that the systemic consideration of practices has a greater impact on
different employee performance indicators (outcomes) than the individual, isolated HRM
practices. The importance of a system approach is related to the need of employees to have
a clear understanding of what the targets are they have to achieve and how these are related
to employee performance indicators and rewards. Evaluating employee performance on
criteria or achievements that were not made explicit ex-ante will result in employees’
resentment towards employee performance management systems. This was clearly
pointed out by the expectancy theory (Vroom 1964). In contrast, goal-setting theory
stresses on the need for acceptance by employees of the goals in themselves, so that
motivation is more intrinsically based (Latham, Almost, Mann and Moore 2005). Scholars
(Bowen and Ostroff 2004) have labelled this as the ‘instrumentality’ feature of HRM
systems, which refers to establishing an unambiguous perceived cause – effect relationship
in reference to the HRM system’s desired content-focused behaviours and associated
employee consequences.
Consequently, we consider a set of employee performance management practices,
namely goal-setting (i.e. planning), monitoring (i.e. feedback) and evaluation (i.e.
appraising). This three-step configuration is recommended by several authors in the field
356
A. Decramer et al.
(Ainsworth and Smith 1993; Torrington and Hall 1995; DeNisi 2000; Aguinis and Pierce
2008).
Levy, Cawley and Foti (1998) found that knowledge of the system was a significant
and positive influence on fairness perceptions. Knowledge of the system can be seen as
consisting of a number of elements: clarity about the role of appraisals, understanding of
employee performance objectives and acceptance of those objectives.
Each of these three dimensions of knowledge adds to an employee’s feelings of
process control: employees are aware of why the appraisal is taking place, what they are
required to do in order to be successful in the appraisal and the consequences of the
appraisal. There will be ‘no surprises’ for the employee during the evaluation, which is
likely to contribute to perceptions of fairness (Erdogan 2002).
Therefore, we hypothesise that:
H1:
Academic employees who report a higher level on internal consistency of the
employee performance management system will achieve higher employee
performance management satisfaction.
Vertical alignment of the employee performance management system
Employee performance management has shifted from an operational focus to a more
strategically oriented concept, i.e. where it plays an integral role in the formulation and
implementation of strategy (Armstrong and Baron 2004). Employee performance
management seeks to align employee goals and organisational objectives (Fletcher 2001).
The alignment of employee and organisational interests, which is defined as vertical or
strategic alignment/integration, has recently been examined by authors (Boswell 2006;
Claus and Briscoe 2009; van Riel, Berens and Dijkstra 2009). Aligning employees with
the organisation’s larger strategic goals is critical if organisations hope to manage their
human capital effectively and ultimately attain strategic success (Becker, Huselid and
Ulrich 2001). Recent literature has found that an important component of attaining and
sustaining this alignment is for employees to have ‘line of sight’ with their organisation’s
strategic objectives or ‘strategic aligned behaviour’ (Boswell and Boudreau 2001; Boswell
2006; van Riel et al. 2009). Employees with greater understanding of their organisation’s
strategic objectives, and how to contribute to them, should report higher satisfaction with
their job, feel greater affective commitment towards the organisation and ultimately desire
to stay with the organisation. Line of sight considering the organisation’s strategic
objectives should facilitate HRM satisfaction (Boswell 2006). Hence,
H2:
Academic employees who report a higher level on vertical alignment of the
employee performance management system will achieve higher employee
performance management satisfaction.
Communication
The line managers’ discussion of objectives and clarification of employee performance
duties with employees is part of the planning or goal-setting phase of the employee
performance management system (Findley, Giles and Mossholder 2000). When line
managers outline criteria for employee performance and give appraisal notice in advance
of employee performance completion, employees feel respected (Findley et al. 2000).
Next, managers are encouraged to establish a two-way communication system; identify
needs, desires and expectations of employees; assist in achieving their goals; recognise
The International Journal of Human Resource Management
357
achievements; give regular feedback; and allow employees’ input. Reinke (2003) reported
a positive correlation between the two-way communication: the willingness to improve
employee performance and the perceived fairness of the employee performance appraisal.
Employee appraisal system satisfaction was correlated with the quality of the appraisal
discussion and the degree to which the rating form facilitated feedback (Roberts 2003).
Beliefs about fair employee performance management evaluations are based on the
procedures by which the evaluations are conducted. This procedural justice (Reinke 2003)
perspective on the fairness of the evaluation procedures has been related to several process
variables, and many laboratory studies have shown the importance of procedural variables
on the perceived fairness of the appraisal (Greenberg 1986). Communication about
procedures will have a positive impact on the employee performance management
satisfaction (Tang and Sarsfield-Baldwin 1996; Cawley, Keeping and Levy 1998).
H3:
Academic employees who report a higher level of communication about employee
performance management will achieve higher employee performance management
satisfaction.
Control tightness
‘Tight versus loose control’ relates to the emphasis on control of activities. Hofstede
(1998) described units that have a tight control culture as being extremely cost conscious.
Tight control is also seen as involving extensive and continuous flows of information and
‘an extremely detailed planning, budgeting and reporting system’ (Merchant and Van der
Stede 2003, p. 133).
In literature, there has been doubt about the extent to which managerialism and
control can be imposed on academic employees (Stiles 2004). Some have stressed the
difficulties of bringing order into the chaos of collegial control, while others would p …
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