International Conference of the Dutch HRM Network edition:5 location:Tilburg (The Netherlands) date:9-10 November 2007
Several authors have stated that differences might exist in how different stakeholder groups per-ceive and evaluate the HR function (e.g. Buyens & De Vos, 2001; Tsui, 1990). Yet, to date em-pirical research is scarce. The purpose of this paper is to draw a comparison between line manag-ers’ and trade union representatives’ assessments of the strength of the HRM system.
First, we model the relationship between perceived HR role effectiveness (effectiveness in the roles of strategic partner, change agent, administrative expert and employee champion) and gen-eral satisfaction with HR services. Second, we examine which HRM system characteristics (fea-tures of both the HR message sender and HR messages) are decisive in determining the perceived effectiveness of the HR function in its different roles. The two models will be tested for and compared between both stakeholder groups.
Relying on previous theoretical work in HRM and marketing literature (Bowen & Ostroff, 2004; Parasuraman et al., 1988), we identified thirteen constructs capturing the strength of the HRM system. Examples are legitimacy of HR staff; consistency of HR practices; reliability of HR services. Next, we developed a survey to measure these HRM system characteristics and the necessary dependent and control variables. The questionnaire has been set out in two Belgian samples. A first sample involves 111 line managers of one HR services organization. The second sample consists of 300 trade union representatives of different organizations.
Results for trade union representatives indicate a positive and significant relationship between the perceived effectiveness of the HR function in its operational roles (administrative expert and employee champion) and general satisfaction with HR services. For line managers, the roles of administrative expert and strategic partner are decisive in determining general satisfaction with HR services. Next, our findings show the importance of HRM system characteristics in determin-ing the perceived role effectiveness of the HR function. Yet, the importance of a specific HRM system characteristic depends on both the HR role and stakeholder group under consideration. Based on the results we formulate implications for future research and managerial practice.