Low performance work systems? The deleterious effects of high investment human resource systems on small firm labor productivity

Clint Chadwick, Sean A. Way, Gerry Kerr, James W. Thacker

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperOtherpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


We propose that managerial attention is a critical limited resource for small firms and that informal HRM can be more effective than formal HRM in small firms. In support of these assertions, we find a robust negative relationship between formal HRM systems and labor productivity within a sample of Canadian small firms. Additionally, we find that differentiation strategy magnifies this negative relationship, whereas capital intensity, firm age, industry growth, and industry dynamism mitigate this negative relationship. Thus, our findings rebut the view that formal HRM systems universally enhance firm performance. Implications for small firms and for strategic HRM are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAcademy of Management Proceedings
Place of PublicationNY USA
PublisherAcademy of Management
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes
EventAnnual Meeting of the Academy of Management 2010 - Montreal, Canada
Duration: 6 Aug 201010 Aug 2010
Conference number: 70th

Publication series

NameAcademy of Management Proceedings
PublisherAcademy of Management
ISSN (Print)0065-0668
ISSN (Electronic)2151-6561


ConferenceAnnual Meeting of the Academy of Management 2010
Abbreviated titleAoM 2010


  • Small business
  • Strategic contingencies
  • Strategic HRM

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