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In a paper, identify and outline the key elements of High Performance Work Systems (HPWS) for an online university setting. In your analysis, answer the following and be sure to provide specific examples where applicable:
1.Would it be possible to properly implement HPWS in an online institution of higher education?
2.If your answer is yes, how would you implement HPWS as an HR team leader?
3.What are the barriers to implementation if your answer to the question is no? What recommendation would you provide in this instance?

Support your paper with a minimum of two (2) resources, which may include your required text. In addition to these specified resources, other appropriate scholarly resources, including older articles, may be included.

Length: 3-5 pages not including title and reference pages

Your paper should demonstrate thoughtful consideration of the ideas and concepts presented in the course and provide new thoughts and insights relating directly to this topic. Your response should reflect scholarly writing and current APA standards. 



Subject Business Pages 5 Style APA


Analyze Key Elements of a High Performance Work System



High performance work systems are procedures that are adopted by organizations to manage companies under different approaches than the usual traditional hierarchical methods that are largely associated with mass production or scientific systems. These emerging systems emphasize a radical and a different employer employee work relationship. Leading specialists in organization behavior strongly believe that High Performance Work Systems (HPWS) have a great potential to provide competitive and sustained advantage for companies that have adopted it in their systems.

The key elements of HPWS are;

1) The high performance of the work systems which are also known as high commitment or involvement organizations that are particularly used for distinctive managerial approach which enables companies to achieve high performance through their staff. The key elements of HPWS are varied and slightly different but the essential dimensions have been identified by Jeffrey Pfeffer (1998) and they include; a) Employment security b) Self managed organization teams and general decentralization of the decision making process as part of the essential concepts of organization design c) Selective system of hiring new staff d) Extensive training e) Comparative high compensation that’s limited to organization performance g) Reduced status distinctions, barriers, language and wage differences for various levels 7) Sharing of extensive financial and also financial information in all levels of the organization.

The major concept of HPWS is basically to create an environment that encourages employee involvement and organizations that are committed to employee empowerment.

The application of HPWS in an online institution of higher learning is possible as the major components of the HPWS deal directly with the people or the employees. Factors that motivate the staff and increase their morale impact positively in the production both as providers of quality learning.

Employment security provides confidence and job satisfaction as employees are assured of their jobs in future. It helps in maintaining low turnover rates and professionalism as employees gather more experience as years progress. Employment security also acts as a motivation factor in production. Motivated employees perform better both in terms of quality and quantity.

Learning & Growth

High Performance Work Systems.

Internal Business processes

-Quality & cycle time


Customer loyalty plus on- time delivery.


Return on capital Employed

Extensive training leads to professionalism and skilled manpower. High Performance Work Systems requires employees who have been well trained and experienced.




The illustration above demonstrates the key elements of the HPWS and their role in strategy implementation.

Comparative high compensation motivates employees to work hard and be more productive. Well compensated employees are high performers and they also register low turnover rates in company.

Performance Superiority

Studies have indicated that companies that utilize HPWS management practices register better performance than the firms that utilize traditional management techniques (Pfeffer, 1998)

Huselid (1995) also discovered that the application of High Performance Work and practices reduces employee turnover and increases productivity together with financial performance.

To implement HPWS as a HR officer, I will have to introduce some changes and policies to match the new theme of optimal production and competitive policies that require utmost cooperation and teamwork. The major role HR in most organizations is to provide and train human capital. HRM policies and also practices such as staffing, training, compensation and other forms of motivation are utilized to increase the productivity of workers. New competencies and competing roles create value and contain costs that apply to HPWS.

For effective HPWS, the HRM systems must create a sustained and competitive advantage that at times is difficult to imitate. According to Collis and Montgomery (1995) there are two critical features that entail strategic resource utilization and inimitability that provides the base for HPWS; these are path dependency together with causal dependency. Path dependency are characterized by human resources that are mostly developed over periods of time such that the experiences and learning provide the first mover advantage where a competitor cannot easily purchase a similar resource in the market. Causal ambiguity is aligned appropriately with HPWS effective strategies (Lado & Wilson, 1994).

According to Schuler (1992) to implement HPWS as HR leader it would require five interlocking HRM activities which may involve critical analysis of the HRM philosophies, policies, programs, practices and general processes. A firm’s philosophy describes its overall vision and the required efforts that are required to develop a reliable and high performing workforce that is reflected in the company’s philosophy in regards to its human resources and which also impact on the policies, programs, processes and practices of the HR department (Becker & Huselid,  1996).

A good HR philosophy aligns the strategies of the HRM systems both internally and externally in order to implement the company’s strategy successfully. The basis of inimitability forms part of a firms HPWS specific competency, for example, a company’s HR policies that reward and promote development of high performing employees are part of the HPWS structure. Job security is one of the other motivating factors that provide confidence and satisfaction as employees are assured of regular income and they can plan for the future. This policies when adopted by the HR department will enhance the competitiveness of the HPWS and also maintain other benefits like increased productivity, reduced absenteeism and increased professionalism as employees are encouraged to work more with better compensation. The HR department has the capacity to sustain the HPWS by creating an environment that encourages and motivates the employees to work hard.

As the leader of the HR department, I can also introduce extensive that also may also lead professionalism and skilled manpower and which consequently lead to High Performance Work.

The major problem is mostly related to the financing of the motivating efforts that are required to promote the activities and operations of the HR department. The compensation and training programs are costly to implement and they require planning and adequate preparation.

The HR department can plan and budget for the activities and programs that it intends to undertake during the year so that the management can allocate the required funding for the departments activities and operations. Alternatively, cash bonus schemes should be introduced and which should be based on the performance of each employee in a department. Sales projections and productions levels should be projected and the desired targets clearly spelt out and the bonuses defined as per the systems for their calculations. For example, an increase of 50% on sales would attract a bonus of 5% while 60% would attract a bonus of 6% progressively.

To conclude, introducing the HPWS in the HR department only requires hard work, honesty and fairness. The other rules of motivation can be dealt with as the organization grows.





Becker, B.E. & Huselid, M. A. (1996) High Performance Work Systems & Firm Performance: A Synthesis of Research and Managerial Implications, paper presented at the 1996 Academy of management meetings, Cincinnati, OH.

Collis, D.J., 7 Montgomery, C.A. (1995) competing on Resources: Strategy for the 1990’s, Harvard business Review, pp. 118 -128

Lado, A. A. & Wilson, M.C. (1994) Human Resources Systems and Sustained Competitive Advantage; A Competency-based Perspective, Academy of Management Review, 19, 699 – 727.

Pfeffer, J. (1994) Competitive Advantage through People, Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Schuler, R.S. (1992) Strategic Human Resource Management: Linking People with the Needs of the Business, Organizational Dynamics, 22, 19 – 32.








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