describe an innovative methodology of management

High involvement management (HIM) was invented in the early 1980s. It is what some authors refer to as commitment management (Armstrong & Baron 2002). These authors describe an innovative methodology of management, which succeeded the control or the Taylorist model of management. Its firm division of labor typifies the control approach, limited opportunities for the involvement of employees, narrowly defined specialists assignments and low levels of employee trust and commitment (Armstrong & Baron 2002). Askenazy and  Caroli (2010) believe that high involvement management is increasingly becoming relevant to all organizations, because they experience the uncertainty and intensifying competition. However, the previous employment relations approaches, which were linked to the control model, might have to change. High involvement management means a more accommodating approach between workers and management than the adversarial association. The adversarial association developed, based on narrow job specifications, oligopolistic product market and payment systems in terms of the inflexible job piecework or structures (Wood et al. 2012). In this regard, this paper critically evaluates the claim that high involvement management is the best way of managing in all situations.

Despite some early implementers of high involvement management being non-union and some commentators seeing it as a strategy to destabilize the unionism, Black, Lynch and Krivelyova (2004) perceived both implementers and commentators as possibly compatible. Bloom and  Van Reenen (2007) argued that the union involvement in high involvement management might be extremely beneficial for its adoption. Dynamics in the attitudes and role of both trade unionists and management might be essential. Participation that centered on the consultation and information sharing instead of bargaining might be necessary when using the HIM approach. Bordia et al. (2004) further added that via these activities and mutual understanding, firms could experience positive gains from the use of HIM.

The Link between HIM and Performance

According to Brenner, Fairris and Ruser (2004), organizations that use high involvement management might attain a superior performance to those, using the traditional management approach. In this regard, Böckerman and Ilmakunnas (2008) argue that organizations using the HIM approach are able to confront the increasing worldwide competition, while offering opportunities to employees for a greater security and rewards, as well as the inherent satisfaction, which workers’ involvement provided. In fact, during the early 1990s, the performance impacts were taken for granted by some organizations. Most of those, who took those impacts for granted, labeled the HIM approach as high performance work systems.

According to Böckerman and Ilmakunnas (2012), high involvement management implies involving employees in transforming not only their roles, but also the entire business. This involvement goes beyond the role of involvement linked to the work enrichment. As such, Godard (2004) used the term HIM to refer to practices that either directly or indirectly provide workers with opportunities for the organizational involvement via the deployment of the skills acquisition and dissemination of information. High involvement management, therefore, involves work organization practices like flexible job descriptions, team-working, and idea capturing schemes that are ways of promoting pro-activity, collaboration and greater flexibility. In addition, the practices of HIM give employees the opportunities for knowledge and skills acquisition that is necessary in ensuring that they have the abilities to work in an involved manner (Bordia et al. 2004). Examples of such opportunities include an intensive training focused on the team-working, idea generation, functional flexibility and information sharing, especially about market and economics of the business (Black, Lynch & Krivelyova 2004).

High involvement management promotes the pro-activity and idea generation (Black, Lynch & Krivelyova 2004). In fact, this approach emphasizes on increasing the idea generation and pro-activity as its distinguishing characteristics. This has been witnessed, especially during the wake of effective implementation of quality circles and idea capturing schemes, in many Japanese companies that are viewed as powerful innovators, especially in manufacturing. According to Godard (2010), the thrust of this management approach is towards the development of broader horizons among all employees. This development ensures that employees think of the best possible ways of accomplishing their tasks, connecting what others do with what they do and taking a necessary initiative in the visage of novel problems. Green and Heywood (2008) argue that the purpose of HIM is to push employees to take part in what the present management theory refers to as a continuous improvement culture. The aim is to encourage a high performance via the pro-activity and adaptation, which are viewed as the inherent aspects of present work obligations (Black, Lynch & Krivelyova 2004).

Godard’s  study (2004) revealed that there are strong relationships between the performance and HIM. Using measures that are based on central practices of HIM, the study revealed that a higher productivity was associated with HIM in private sector, though only in unionized workplaces. This contrasts with the claim that HIM is appropriate in all management circumstances. From this perspective, HIM might not be suitable in non-unionized workplaces. According to Wall and Wood (2005), there is also no clear relationship between the financial performance and HIM. Therefore, some authors have speculated that the collection of results might explain why unions succeed in bargaining for concessions. The success of union arises from a relationship that is more cooperative between unions and employees.

High involvement management is also the best management approach due to its association with various supporting or motivational practice such as incentives (Brenner, Fairris & Ruser 2004). These incentives encourage workers to capitalize on the opportunities for participation. According to Wood and Wall (2007), these incentives are also meant to equip workers with the necessary skills in high involvement management and assist the organization in attracting and retaining suitable employees in order to secure a committed and stable workforce. Such workforce would underpin an efficient high involvement management. Other motivational and supporting practices include group compensations schemes, minimal status differentials and internal recruitment (Armstrong & Baron 2002).

The HIM approach enables organizations to match the HR system to their context that can either be the core strategy of organizations of the elements of the environment (Black, Lynch & Krivelyova 2004). In relation to the theory of contingency, one might anticipate the impact of HIM on the performance to differ, depending on the extent, to which the approach is consistent with pertinent external factors. According to Wood et al. (2012), there might be contexts, in which high involvement management will have no impact or be counter-productive. This contrasts with the claim that the HIM approach is suitable in all contexts. Some authors have maintained that the benefits of the HIM approach are highest, where organizations are experiencing the uncertain and turbulent environment.

Wood and Wall (2007) claimed that HIM is highly appropriate for organizations using a high quality strategy as opposed to the strategy of cost minimization. If an organization is focused on the performance maximization, then, it will match its HRM to the strategic or environmental context. If this theory associating performance holds, consequently, strategic or external factors would be linked, at least in both medium and long term to the extent of the HIM usage (Wood et al. 2012). Similarly, assuming that the theory is globally pertinent and holds, one would anticipate the HIM approach not to be restricted to specific contexts. As such, one would anticipate it to span evenly across the economy. One would also expect HIM and its determinants to be predominantly internal factors of the firm (Wood & Wall 2007).  According to Green and Heywood (2008), it is also possible that the use of the respective HIM practices has been substantially concentrated in specific industries or characteristic to certain workplaces. This might be because the organization’s fashion of management has mimicked the competitors’ management approach.

The Link between HIM and Well-Being

            There is an emphasis that high involvement management increases a job satisfaction. According to Askenazy and Caroli (2010), it is achieved by improving the traditional aspect related to enriched jobs. Such traditional aspects include the skill utilization, autonomy and development. For instance, Black, Lynch and Krivelyova (2004) suggested the primary mechanism in the high involvement management system by explaining the impact of employee involvement on the overall performance. According to them, the key mechanism of high involvement management is the fact that it calls forth a greater voluntary effort from employees (Black, Lynch & Krivelyova 2004).

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