MKT 421 SDSU Qualitative Methods Practice

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mkt 421

San Diego State University

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I need an explanation for this Literature question to help me study.

Respond to the following: Creswell provides a number of characteristics of qualitative research. Locate evidence that this dissertation contains these characteristics. Provide a brief summary/description (1 – 3 sentences) demonstrating how each item is reflected in the dissertation. Indicate page number(s) where these are found. Note: You many not find each and every one of these. Respond to any 8 of these 13 items.

  • Natural setting
  • Researcher as instrument
  • Multiple sources of data
  • Inductive and deductive data analysis
  • Participants’ meanings
  • Emergent design
  • Reflexivity
  • Holistic account
  • Gatekeepers
  • Purposeful selection of research site and participants
  • Data collection: observation, interview, documents, audio/visual materials
  • Data analysis: organizing, coding, describing, interpreting
  • Validity and reliability: triangulation, member checking, rich/thick description

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THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HIGH INVOLVEMENT WORK SYSTEMS, SUPERVISORY SUPPORT, AND ORGANIZATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS: THE ROLE OF EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCES AT WORK By © 2012 Preeti Wadhwa University of Kansas, 2012 Submitted to the graduate degree program in Business and the Graduate Faculty of the University of Kansas in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. _______________________________________ James P. Guthrie, Co-Chair _______________________________________ Catherine Schwoerer, Co-Chair _______________________________________ Kris Preacher _______________________________________ Clint Chadwick _______________________________________ Jeong- Yeon Lee _______________________________________ Hui Liao _______________________________________ Todd D. Little Date Defended: AUGUST 15, 2012 The Dissertation Committee for Preeti Wadhwa certifies that this is the approved version of the following dissertation: THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HIGH INVOLVEMENT WORK SYSTEMS, SUPERVISORY SUPPORT, AND ORGANIZATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS: THE ROLE OF EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCES AT WORK _______________________________________ Co-Chair, James P. Guthrie ______________________________________ Co-Chair, Catherine Schwoerer, Date Approved: AUGUST 22, 2012 ii THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HIGH INVOLVEMENT WORK SYSTEMS, SUPERVISORY SUPPORT, AND ORGANIZATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS: THE ROLE OF EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCES AT WORK ABSTRACT This study adopts a multilevel, multiple stakeholder perspective to examine the impact of high involvement work systems (HIWS) and supervisory support on organizational effectiveness. Organizational effectiveness is measured in terms of employee experiences of work, employee turnover (voluntary and involuntary measured separately), customer satisfaction with service performance and loyalty, and financial performance (organizational traffic and sales). Guided by the contingency theory, I situate my study in the service sector with a focus on the hospitality industry. The model and the related hypotheses investigate the role of employee experiences of job resources (characteristics of jobs and co-worker support) and engagement as a linking mechanism between HIWS, supervisory support and the various employee and organizational level outcomes in question. The results suggest that in relatively smaller establishments in the service industry, which are characterized by an informal structure, supervisory support is the prime determinant of employee experiences of work and may supersede the influence of HR practices. Moreover, results of complex cross-level mediation analyses provide additional evidence to support the notion of a service market chain. Research and practical implications of these findings are discussed and recommendations for future research are provided. iii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS First and foremost, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to my committee Chairs, Jim Guthrie and Catherine Schwoerer for their valuable guidance and support throughout this journey. I was lucky to have two accomplished scholars as my co-advisors. Jim Guthrie, besides being a very accomplished scholar is also a genuinely wonderful human being. I would like to thank him for touching my life with his wisdom, calmness, and humility, and most of all, for always being there. Catherine Schwoerer who is very humble, kind, and supportive, has always set the bar very high which has significantly contributed to my intellectual growth and development as a scholar. Under her mentorship, I have learned how to give and receive thoughtful and constructive feedback. Thank you both for your unconditional support, guidance, and patience. I would like to especially thank Kris Preacher who has taught me everything I know about multilevel structural equation modeling. Kris’s humbleness and kindness never ceases to amaze me! Despite being hundreds of miles away, he has always been very prompt in responding to my questions and queries. I also owe a big thanks to Hui Liao for agreeing to be on my committee and for her insightful feedback that helped me ask the right questions. My sincere thanks to Clint Chadwick for his valuable support (both intellectual and moral) and guidance. He is a very wonderful addition to our faculty. I also owe a big thank you to Jay Lee for not only being willing to serve on my committee but also for giving me the opportunity to co-author my first publication with him. Finally, I would like to thank Todd Little for agreeing to serve on my committee at such a short notice despite a very hectic schedule. At this point I would like to acknowledge another mentor, Dan Spencer, who is not a member of my dissertation committee but who has made a lasting and important impression on iv me, nevertheless. Not only is he my teaching mentor, but he is also a wonderful senior colleague who is always very giving of his time. I could not have found a better person to learn the craft from. Two other individuals who I would like to mention are Ron Ash and Vince Barker. I was lucky to have Ron Ash as a Department Chair who is a very generous person with a great sense of humor. Vince Barker’s commitment to and passion for the Ph.D students is only outmatched by his kindness and generosity. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my contact at the organization which was the source of data for this dissertation. While I cannot provide a name given the associated anonymity and confidentiality, I would always be grateful to this amazing human being who has been so generous of his/her time and has gone above and beyond to help me. Quite literally, I would not have been able to complete my dissertation without this person’s help. Next, I would like to thank my Ph.D cohort for making this entire journey an incredible experience. Particularly, I would always treasure my friendship with Martina Musteen, Esma Nur, Alex Martynov, Jan Super and Ken Ward. A special thank you to Charly Edmonds and Waqas Rana for providing the best administrative support I could have wished for. Also, big thanks to Charlotte Trinch and Jide Wintoki for lending a patient ear every time I “jibberjabbered” about my dissertation and all the challenges it brought. Charlotte, those well-needed walks with you across the campus not only helped me de-stress but I also found a good friend in you! Next, I would like to thank my family that has always been there for me. My sister Monica Wadhwa who although several years younger than me, is a source of inspiration. Her sense of determination, hard work, and confidence, is admirable. I am so proud of what she is and who she is today. Mons, you got the “Dr.” prefix well before me, but I am catching up, sis! I v am also thankful to my mom, Sudershan, and my dad, Rattan, for always believing in me, when I did not! Their unwavering faith in my abilities has helped me get back on my feet every time I stumbled. Most importantly, I would like to thank my wonderful husband, Cecil, for being my pillar of support. I would have never been able to juggle between my home and work life without his help. Thanks for being so incredibly patient, for unconditionally loving me and for being there to cheer me up even when my frustrations got the best of me! Thanks jaanu for always being by my side through good times and bad. Last, but not the least, I would like to acknowledge my 5-year old son, Arnav. While taking care of him made things a little challenging, his presence has provided so much joy and meaning to this entire journey of mine. It amuses me to see the puzzled look on his face when his little mind tries to figure out why his mom still needs to go to “school”! vi TABLE OF CONTENTS INTRODUCTION & THEORETICAL FOUNDATION .............................................1 1.1 HIGH INVOLVEMENT WORK SYSTEMS ...........................................................12 1.2 JOB DEMANDS-RESOURCES FRAMEWORK ...................................................16 1.3SOCIAL EXCHANGE THEORY ............................................................................20 HYPOTHESES ...............................................................................................................22 METHODS ......................................................................................................................39 3.3 ORGANIZATIONAL CONTEXT ............................................................................39 3.2 RESEARCH DESIGN ..............................................................................................41 3.3 SAMPLE ..................................................................................................................45 3.4 ASSESSMENT OF RELIABILITY & VALIDITY ......................................................46 3.5 MEASURES ..............................................................................................................47 3.5.1 INDEPENDENT, MODERATING & MEDIATING VARIABLES ...............47 3.5.2 DEPENDENT VARIABLES .........................................................................51 3.6 ANALYSIS .................................................................................................................52 3.6.1 ANALYTIC TECHNIQUE .............................................................................52 3.6.2 MEDIATION ANALYSES ...............................................................................53 RESULTS ........................................................................................................................55 4.1 DESCRIPTIVE STATISTICS ...................................................................................55 4.2 MULTILEVEL STRUCTURAL EQUATION MODELING RESULTS .....................55 4.2.1 HYPOTHSIZED & REVISED MODELS ........................................................56 4.2. 2 INTERACTION EFFECT ................................................................................59 4.2.3 MEDIATION ANALYSES .................................................................................59 4.2.4 SUMMARY OF MSEM RESULTS ...................................................................62 DISCUSSION ..................................................................................................................66 5.1 DISCUSSION OF RESULTS ...................................................................................66 5.2 IMPLICATIONS FOR RESEARCH, THEORY, & PRACTICE ...............................73 5.3 LIMITATIONS & DIRECTION FOR FUTURE RESEARCH ..................................77 5.4 NEXT STEPS ............................................................................................................82 5.5 CLOSING REMARKS ..............................................................................................84 REFERENCES ................................................................................................................85 APPENDIX A-TABLES ...............................................................................................107 APPENDIX B-FIGURES ............................................................................................112 APPEN2IX C- SURVEY ITEMS ...............................................................................125 vii INTRODUCTION “If the employees come first, then they're happy,… A motivated employee treats the customer well. The customer is happy so they keep coming back, which pleases the shareholders. It's not one of the enduring Green mysteries of all time, it is just the way it works.”- Herb Kelleher, Founder Southwest Airlines (Freiberg & Freiberg, 1998) This quote summarizes the underlying philosophy and logic of the firms in which senior management considers employees their top priority. These “employee-centered” organizations assume that there will be long term “spill-over” effects of employee attitudes and behaviors on customer satisfaction and, in turn, on their firm’s financial performance. This link is of critical importance in the service industry where the quality of interactions at the frontline employeecustomer interface is one of the most important determinants of firm performance (Bowen & Schneider, 1988). This philosophy is also consistent with themes found in the burgeoning literature on strategic human resource management (SHRM) and conveys the underlying rationale and motivation behind designing a set of human resource (HR) practices often referred to as “high performance work systems” (HPWS). An influential body of research has shown that greater use of HPWS is associated with a range of positive organizational outcomes. These include higher labor productivity (Datta, Guthrie & Wright, 2005; Guthrie, 2001; MacDuffie, 1995), lower absenteeism (Guthrie, Flood, Liu, & MacCurtain, 2009), reduced voluntary turnover rates (Batt, 2002; Huselid, 1995; Guthrie, 2001; Guthrie et al., 2009; Shaw et al., 2005) and better firm performance (Huselid, 1995). Proponents of the HPWS paradigm view (i) firms’ employees as an organizational resource offering the potential for significant and sustained competitive advantage and (ii) HPWS as a set 1 of HR practices that can build and leverage a firm’s human and social capital toward realizing this advantage (e.g., Guthrie, 2001; Huselid, 1995; Pfeffer, 1998). These bundles of HR practices have received various labels in the existing literature. Besides HPWS (as labeled by Huselid, 1995), some other nomenclatures include high involvement work practices (Guthrie, 2001), commitment-oriented HR systems (Lepak & Snell, 2002), innovative HR practices (MacDuffie, 1995) and human capital enhancing HR systems (Youndt, Snell, Dean & Lepak, 1996). As far as the labels are concerned, I resonate with Boxall and Macky (2009) who suggest that the term “HPWS”, with its obvious focus on the bottomline, is a misnomer and that it should be replaced by its other conceptual counterparts such as high involvement work systems (HIWS) or high commitment management (HCM) both of which more fittingly reflect the nature and purpose of introducing a bundle of horizontally and vertically aligned human resource practices. Wall and Wood (2005) have echoed a similar concern. It has also been pointed out that such labels and the accompanying research reflect a “managerial perspective” (Harley, Allen, & Sargent, 2007) and may therefore be suggestive of ‘leaner’ and perhaps ‘meaner’ workplaces. Thus, for the purpose of this study, I will be referring to these HR systems as high involvement work systems (HIWS). The bundles of practices that constitute HIWS collectively provide employees with information, skills, motivation and latitude (Guthrie, et al., 2009). While specific practices may differ across various bundles, they generally include a combination of rigorous staffing procedures, significant investments in training and development, compensation rewarding skill development and group-level performance, systematic multi-source feedback, extensive communication and participation and employee empowerment practices such as self-managed 2 teams and flexible job design (Arthur, 1994; Becker & Huselid, 1998; Guthrie, 2001; Huselid, 1995; McDuffie, 1995; Way, 2002). The existing body of research indicates that HIWS do not have a direct effect on performance; rather they create a work environment that influences employee capabilities and attitudes (Collins & Clark, 2003). Consequently, the proponents of HIWS are now exploring the underlying mechanisms through which HIWS affects firm performance. This is evident in the relatively recent attempts made by some of these scholars to explore the proverbial black box between HIWS and organizational outcomes (see Boxall, Ang, & Bartram, 2011; Chuang & Liao, 2010; Sun, Aryee, & Law, 2007; Takeuchi, Chen, & Lepak, 2009; Takeuchi, Lepak, Wang & Takeuchi, 2007; Whitener, 2001). While the recent findings have been helpful, much is unknown with respect to employee experiences of these systems. In that vein, the aim of this dissertation is to further the examination of the underlying mechanisms by focusing on the role of supervisory support, job resources, and work engagement experienced by employees operating in environments characterized by HIWS. Drawing from the contingency perspective, extant literature suggests that the industry characteristics may influence the nature and composition of HIWS as they are anchored in the strategic objective of the business (Lepak, Liao, Chung & Harden, 2006, Zacharatos, Barling, & Iverson, 2005). Building on this suggestion, I argue that industry characteristics may also influence the underlying mechanisms through which these HR systems impact various employee and organizational outcomes. The service sector has emerged as the largest contributor to the US economy accounting for 9.8 trillion or nearly 70% of the total GDP (gross domestic product) in the United States (International Trade Administration, US Department of Commerce). Therefore, it is surprising 3 that despite being a major component of both industrialized and transitional economies (Bowen & Schneider, 1988), the service sector has not received much attention in the SHRM literature. Barring a few recent studies (e.g. Batt, 2002; Boxall et al., 2011; Chuang & Liao, 2010; Liao, Toya, Lepak, & Hong, 2009; Nishii, Lepak, & Schneider, 2008), most empirical evidence linking HIWS to performance has come from the manufacturing industry (e.g. Applebaum, Bailey, Berg & Kalleberg, 2000; Arthur, 1994; Datta et al., 2005; Huselid, 1995; MacDuffie, 1995). A service setting is different from manufacturing for a variety of reasons. Unlike a manufacturing setting, a service context is characterized by the simultaneous production and consumption of “product”, the intangibility of what is offered, and the role of customers as coproducers in the process (Bowen & Schneider, 1988). Therefore, the quality of interactions between customers and the frontline employees of the business plays a pivotal role in determining customer satisfaction which is an important indicator of employee performance. Work processes, demographic differences between the two employee groups, level of interdependence between workers (Bowen & Schneider, 1988), and the level of emotional regulation required of employees (Hochschild,1983), are some other important differences that distinguish a service setting from a manufacturing one. Given the stark differences between the two sectors, the generalization of findings based on samples drawn from manufacturing settings to the service sector is suspect. Therefore, as indicated earlier, this research aims to advance the existing research in the field by depicting the underlying processes through which HR systems impact various employee and organizational outcomes. Within the service sector, I specifically focus on the restaurant setting. Restaurant settings (and the hospitality industry, in general) are unique from the rest of the service sector in the 4 sense that customers pay for the overall experience, including the service provided. For instance, when dining out, although the quality and the taste of the food matters, the customers’ interactions with the restaurants’ frontline staff may also play a significant role in affecting the overall experience. Customer evaluation of service performance, in turn, will enhance the probabilities of repeat business (i.e., customer retention). Further, these interactions, unlike those in the context of call centers, are face-to-face. Given the importance of the frontline staff, this study examines a series of research questions in the context of a restaurant setting. Specifically, the following research questions are proposed (see Figure 1 for a graphical representation) [Insert Figure 1 Approximately Here] • Research Question 1: What are the implications of HIWS for employees’ experiences at work? • Research Question 2: What role does supervisory support play in influencing these experiences? • Research Question 3: What are the underlying mechanisms through which these experiences (job resources: job characteristics and supportive co-workers, and work engagement) link (a) HIWS and (b) supervisory support to various employee and organizational outcomes? • Research Question 4: What is the relationship between these employees’ experiences and the various indices of organizational effectiveness including employee turnover, sales, traffic, customer evaluation of service performance, and customer loyalty? This research contributes to the existing literature in a number of ways. First, as indicated earlier, I attempt to get a better insight into the black box, by focusing on the impact of these HR systems and supervisory support on employee experiences at work. Understanding 5 how employees experience work is a legitimate area of inquiry not only because it helps one understand the mechanism by which HIWS impacts organizational performance, but also in terms of its consequences for workers. While referring to Luthan’s (2002) inclusion criteria in positive organizational behavior (POB) of those strengths that have an impact on performance, Wright (2003) called for a need to move beyond this utilitarian perspective. The author emphasized that pursuit of employee well being should be treated as an end in itself. Employee experiences of resources at work such as characteristics of one’s job and support from co-workers have been associated with experiences of psychological availability, safety, and meaningfulness, which in turn have been found to significantly predict work engagement (May, Gilson, & Harter, 2004). Results of another study (Crabtree, 2005) using a different measure of engagement, indicated that 62% of the engaged employees (among those surveyed) believed their work positively affected their health. However, that number dropped to 22% for the employees who were actively disengaged, with 54% of those reporting work as having a negative effect on their health and 51% indicating a negative impact of work on their well being. In yet another study (Bakken & Torp, 2012) of Norwegian industrial workers, engagement was found to mediate the relationship between job resources and health. Even from a utilitarian perspective, understanding employee experiences of engagement is very crucial. Employee engagement has been found to have a positive impact on employee performance and customer loyalty (Harter, Schmidt, & Harter, 2002; Salanova, Agut, & Peiro, 2005). Results of several studies have indicated that employee engagement is strongly related to voluntary turnover (e.g. De Lange, Witte, & Notelaers, 2008; Halbesleben, 2010; Halbesleben & Wheeler, 2008). Highly engaged employees are also five times less likely to have a safety incident and seven times less likely to have a lost-time safety incident compared to their 6 counterparts who experience lower engagement. In terms of savings in dollars this translated to an average cost of these incidents for an engaged employee of $63 and that for a nonengaged employee of $392 for the organization in question (Vance, 2006). Second, as alluded to earlier, while a burgeoning literature has established a link between these high involvement HR systems and various indicators of organizational performance (e.g., Guthrie, 2001; Huselid, 1995; MacDuffie, 1995; Shaw, Gupta, & Delery, 2005), very few scholarly attempts have been made to understand the implications of HIWS-performance relationship in the service sector (particularly, the hospitality industry). Thus, much remains unknown with regard to the efficacy of these practices in the context of the service industry. Drawing on contingency theory, scholars (Batt, 2002; Datta, et al., 2005) have brought to our attention the potential role that industry characteristics may play in determining the strength of the relationship between these HR systems and HR and organizational outcomes. In the manufacturing industry, these HR systems have been found to enhance the capabilities and performance of blue-collar workers who are mostly high-school graduates and have traditionally operated under a work environment that focuses on cost minimization (Batt, 2002). Batt argues that this is so because unlike high end industries where these systems are the “price of entry”, firms in lower-end markets have traditionally adopted more of a “transactional approach” to HR and more likely employ “compliance-oriented” practices, making HIWS use an exception rather than a norm. Given this typical scenario, firms in these markets that do employ HIWS are likely to be viewed by employees as being “progressive” and “employers of choice.” Applying the same logic, restaurant franchisees (typically a low-wage industry) that have middle-class residential customers as their market segment and therefore focus on offering 7 an “affordable dining experience” are more likely to employ compliance-oriented HR systems with a focus on minimizing cost. Therefore, companies that do employ these practices would be relatively rare and are likely to be conferred the status of “employers of choice”. Pfeffer (1998) also emphasizes that firms in service industries can achieve a sustained competitive advantage by putting their people first and customer second. As mentioned earlier, this research hopes to augment the relatively recent work by scholars that focuses on specific industry characteristics/context. On a related note, Way (2002) draws our attention toward the paucity of research that examines the use of these HR systems for small businesses (employing less than 100 employees), with most of the existing scholarship focusing on relatively large firms (e.g., Arthur, 1994; Guthrie, 2001; Huselid, 1995; Huselid & Becker, 1997; Ramsay, Scholarios, & Harley, 2000). It is surprising that despite the fact that 99.7% of US firms employ fewer than 100 employees (U.S. Small Business Administration, 2010), this sector has been almost excluded from extant research examining HIWS-performance link. The few studies that have examined the relationship have reported conflicting findings (e.g., Chadwick, Way, Kerr, & Thacker, under review; Chuang & Liao, 2010; Liao & Chuang, 2004; Way, 2002). While Way (2002) reported that the benefits of these HR systems do not exceed the costs incurred, Chadwick, Way, Kerr, and Thacker (under review) found a negative relationship between HIWS and labor productivity. On the other hand, a recent study by Chuang and Liao (2010) found a positive impact of HIWS on various indices of organizational effectiveness including market performance. It is important to note that while some of these studies have focused on a single industry, others drew their samples from multiple industries. Further, most of these studies had an international sample. 8 Drawing from contingency theory, it has been suggested that adopting HIWS may not be in the best interest of small establishments (e.g., Chadwick et al., under review). While I am not questioning the validity of the assertion, I suggest that there may be alternative possibilities. For instance, it may be that in the context of small firms it is not so much a choice between adopting or not adopting these practices. Rather, there is a possibility that chosen HR systems should depend upon firms’ strategic objectives. Also, the process of implementation may be different for small firms. Bowen and Ostroff (2004) refer to these two features of HRM systems as content and process. Further, it may be that these HR systems are not as good for some industries in the small business sector. Finally, to ensure reliable participant responses the language in the HIWS surveys has to be conducive to the informal nature of the setups in small establishments. Given the aforementioned limitations, it is difficult to reach any conclusion regarding the efficacy of these systems for smaller settings with fewer than 100 employees. I hope to contribute to this literature by focusing on a single U.S. industry. Additionally, to get a comprehensive picture of the underlying processes, I rely on a “meso” paradigm that recognizes organizations as “loosely coupled” integrated systems. This multilevel perspective bridges the gap between micro and macro by emphasizing the role of interaction between individual, group, and organizational level variables in shaping a wide range of organizational and employee-related outcomes (Kozlowski & Klein, 2000). Recent reviews discussing the progress of SHRM as a field of research have also directed our attention toward the paucity of research that utilizes a multilevel design to test cross-level relationships (Lepak, Liao, Chung, & Harden, 2006; Wright & Boswell, 2002). In response to that call, in my dissertation I propose to examine cross-level effects by developing an integrated framework that explores the crucial role played by unit managers in 9 determining how unit members experience HR policies and practices. As suggested by Becker and Huselid (2006), SHRM is slowly moving beyond the boundaries of HR departments as line managers take charge of implementing the HR strategy. I will also examine the implications of the quality of employee experiences for organizational effectiveness by examining various employee and organizational level outcomes. Yet another contribution that I hope to make is to address some of the concerns expressed by the critics of these HR systems. The exponential growth in the mainstream literature on the benefits of HIWS is accompanied by a parallel stream of literature that questions the virtues of these systems. In his critique of the high performance human resource paradigm, Godard (2004) noted that the impact of HIWS on workers may be negative or at best “uncertain”. These critics further assert that the relationship between HIWS and organizational performance is “complex” and is often mediated by work intensification, job dissatisfaction, stress, and burnout, and insecurity (e.g. Godard, 2004; Ramsay et al., 2000; White, Hills, McGovern, Mills & Smeaton, 2003). Overall, these critics are skeptical of the claim that HIWS are as good for the employees as they are for the employers (e.g. Godard & Delaney, 2000). Thus, another motivation behind this dissertation is to examine the implications of these HR systems for employees. While the research agenda of this study does not claim to resolve the existing debate, I do hope to contribute to this debate. Last but not the least, this dissertation also hopes to contribute to the existing literature in the area on “service profit chain” (Heskett, Jones, Loveman, Sasser, Schlesinger, 1994). The notion of service profit chain implies a causal link between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction, which in turn leads to profitability via customer loyalty. Consistent with this line of 10 reasoning, the model proposed in this study explores the drivers of positive employee experiences at work and the implications of these experiences for organizational effectiveness. By employing multilevel modeling, I hope to get a better grasp of the underlying mechanisms through which positive employee experiences have a spillover effect on customer experiences. Before I develop and test specific hypotheses that elaborate my research model, I first provide an overview of the theoretical frameworks that serve as the underlying foundation for this study. 11 THEORETICAL FOUNDATION High Involvement Work Systems (HIWS) Wright and McMahan (1992: 298) defined SHRM as the “pattern of HR deployments and activities intended to enable an organization to achieve its goals”. More often than not, the theoretical framework that scholars in the field of SHRM have utilized to support their arguments is the resource-based view (RBV). RBV emphasizes exploiting a firm’s internal strengths to gain competitive advantage. Thus, in line with Barney’s (1991) work, if a firm’s human resources have qualities that are valuable, rare, and difficult to imitate or substitute, they can be a source of competitive advantage. Therefore, SHRM advocates the importance of a firm’s human resource practices as a conduit to help create competitive advantage via their impact on employees. Within the SHRM literature, there is general agreement that companies can unleash their employees’ potential by adopting an approach that broadly elicits employee discretion and commitment. The focus is on having a capable and committed workforce who will be motivated to engage in desirable discretionary behaviors because its own interests are aligned with larger organizational objectives. Another argument made in the SHRM research is that the impact of human resource practices on both the individual as well as the organization is better understood by examining a bundle or system of these practices (Lepak, et al., 2006; MacDuffie, 1995). These systems of HR practices are believed to be “internally consistent and reinforcing to achieve some overarching results” (Lepak et al., 2006: 221). Additionally, multiple and mutually reinforcing HR practices in these systems have a synergistic effect that is more than just the sum of the effects of individual HR practices (Comb, Liu, Hall, & Ketchen, 2006; Subramony, 2009). The recent 12 meta-analysis by Combs et al. (2006) also provided support for the argument that HIWS have a significantly stronger impact than individual high performance work practices. Hence, SHRM and the associated focus on HIWS differ from more traditional approaches to HRM in at least two ways. The first difference is a focus on horizontal fit or adopting a bundle of internally complementary HR practices. The second difference is a focus on vertical fit, achieved by aligning the system of HR practices with organizational strategy and, in turn, with the larger organizational objective (Becker & Husilid, 1998). Two main perspectives, a universal approach and a contingency approach have been used to understand the relationship between HIWS and organizational effectiveness. Whereas the proponents of a universal approach support the argument that there exists a positive relationship between a set of “best practices” in HRM and organizational performance universally, those taking a contingency approach argue that the magnitude and/or even the direction of the relationship between HRM and organizational outcomes is influenced by contextual factors such as industry (Youndt, et al., 1996). In fact, research suggests that even within the same firm, depending upon the employment mode and relationship, different employee groups may be subjected to different HR system (Lepak & Snell, 1999; Siebert & Zubonov, 2009). As stated before, this research is guided by the contingency perspective. HIWS are thought to optimize organizational performance by way of a twofold process. First, they help employees’ acquire and develop knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA) (i.e., human capital) along with empowering them (by way of motivation and providing opportunity) to use KSA towards achieving organizational objectives (Becker & Husilid, 1998). Second, by reducing departmental barriers, these HR systems also contribute to creating a culture and social structure that is conducive to communication, knowledge sharing, and resource exchange (Evans 13 & Davis, 2005). Thus, unlike the traditional control-oriented approach that views employees more as a replaceable commodity, organizations employing HIWS are more employee-centered by design in that they invest a lot in their employees (Guthrie, 2001). Employees in these firms represent an embodiment of human as well as social capital. Consequently, these organizations rely much more on their “invisible assets” (Itami, 1987) compared to their counterparts utilizing a traditional approach to managing human resources (Guthrie, 2001; Lawler, 1992). While there is a general agreement that a systems perspective is more appropriate than the one that focuses on examining the impact of individual practices in isolation, researchers disagree on what constitutes a HIWS (Huselid, 1995). However, while practices may differ, at the policy level these systems have three integral components: (1) high skill requirement, hence a focus on effective selection and training; (2) a job design that provides employees with discretion and opportunity to apply their skills; and (3) an incentive structure that increases motivation and commitment (Guthrie et al., 2009; Huselid, 1995). As aforementioned, alongside the literature documenting the virtues of these HR systems, there is another, more skeptical, literature suggesting that the claims made by the proponents of HIWS may be exaggerated or unfounded (e.g. Godard & Delaney, 2000; Godard, 2001; Godard, 2004; Ramsay, Scholarios & Harley, 2000; Wall & Wood, 2005). While these critics generally agree that HIWS positively affects organizational performance through an impact on employee-level outcomes (see Becker & Huselid 1998; MacDuffie, 1995, Ramsay, et al., 2000), it is the nature of these employee-level outcomes that they question and that has generated a growing debate in the field. One school of thought adheres to the thesis that these practices enhance employees’ experience at the workplace which, in turn, contributes to organizational performance (e.g., 14 Applebaum, 2000; Guthrie, et al., 2009). This is reflected in nomenclature such as the “mutual gains enterprise” (cf., Kochan & Osterman, 1994). However, the opposing school of thought argues in support of an employee exploitation thesis. Invoking Barker’s (1993) work, supporters of the exploitation thesis claim that under the HIWS paradigm the Taylorist type of coercive control gives way to more of a “concertive control”, wherein the traditional supervisory control is replaced by the peer pressure applied by group norms (e.g., Godard, 2001) of self- managed teams. Godard and Delaney (2000) argue that the measures used to assess organizational performance not only overestimate the positive effects of HIWS but also fail to include the cost engendered by these systems. Studies supportive of this criticism include those by Cappelli and Neumark (2001) and Guest, Michie, Conway and Sheehan (2003). Likewise, in their critical assessment, Wall and Wood (2005) cautioned that while HIWS may offer a promising line of inquiry, the existing evidence suggestive of positive organizational outcomes is purely “circumstantial”. While proponents of HIWS acknowledge the complex conceptual and methodological issues involved in studying the relationship between HIWS and firm performance, they do not assume or suggest that HIWS have negative outcomes for employees (Becker & Gerhart, 1996; Gerhart, Wright, McMahan & Snell, 2000; Lepak et al., 2006). Hence, overall there seems to be a divide in the extant literature when it comes to understanding the implications of HIWS for employees. As mentioned earlier, one of the motivations behind this disseratation is to address this concern by focusing on the nature of employee experiences at work. Yet another development in the field of SHRM has been a shift of focus regarding how these HR systems affect the organizational climate. Organizational climate refers to the 15 perceptions of organizational members surrounding the formal and informal organizational policies, procedures and practices (Reichers & Schneider, 1990). Social information processing theory (Salancik & Pfeffer, 1978), which is usually employed as the theoretical foundation in the climate literature sheds light on the bottom-up emergence of shared perceptions surrounding organizational climate (Lepak et al., 2006). Schneider (1975) was the first to question the meaningfulness of the global or generic concept of organizational climate. He recommended that the concept of climate should be anchored in the strategic focus of the organization. Lepak et al. (2006) pointed out that since climate mediates the relationship between an organizational context and its effectiveness and because the policies and practices incorporated in the HR systems have been found to be important predictors of climate, then logically, organizational HR systems should also be aligned with organization’s strategic objective. Some recent studies (e.g., Takeuchi, Chen & Lepak, 2009; Chuang & Liao, 2010) applying this perspective have made significant contributions in demystifying the proverbial black box. These studies have shed more light on the underlying mechanisms through which these HR systems influence individual work attitudes such as job satisfaction, affective commitment and organizational citizenship behavior. Job-Demands Resource Framework Guided by the positive psychology scholarship (Seligman & Csikzentmihalyi, 2000), the growing field of positive organizational behavior (POB) focuses on strengths and virtues that promote employee well being and flourishing, and in turn performance improvement at the work place. As a result there has been a renewed interest in understanding the role of job resources in the work motivational processes (Schaufeli & Salanova, 2007) 16 The job demands-resources (JD-R) framework, by incorporating dual processes that operate simultaneously, explains how a combination of stressful and motivational characteristics of job and work environment influence employee well-being (Bakker & Demerouti, 2008; Demerouti, Bakker, Nachreiner, & Schaufeli, 2001; Schaufeli & Bakker, 2004). This framework provides a more balanced and comprehensive view of the work environment by integrating the POB driven concept of work engagement in the original JD-R model of burnout developed by Maslach (1982). Engagement, which is one of the core concepts of the modified JD-R framework, is defined as “a positive, fulfilling, affective-motivational state of work- related well-being” that is negatively related to burnout (Bakker, Schaufeli, Leiter, & Taris, 2008, p. 188). It is characterized by vigor (high level of energy at work, resilience, and persistence), dedication (enthusiasm, identification, pride, challenge) and absorption (happy immersion in one’s work) (Schaufeli, Salanova, Gonzalez-Roma, & Bakker, 2002). It has been emphasized that while the construct of engagement is related to similar constructs, most notably job satisfaction, organizational commitment, organizational citizenship behavior (Macey & Schneider, 2008), job involvement (May et al., 2004), and job embeddedness (Halbesleben & Wheeler, 2008), it is distinct from them. Also conceptualizing engagement as a psychological state when “people employ and express themselves physically, cognitively, and emotionally during role performances”, Kahn (1990: 694) found that three psychological conditions that most contributed to engagement at work were psychological meaningfulness, safety, and availability. In other words, employees were found to be more engaged in a work environment that offered them psychological meaningfulness and psychological safety, and when they were more psychologically available. 17 The study by May, et al. (2004) which offers the only quantitative examination of Kahn’s thesis confirmed the relationship between the psychological state of experienced meaningfulness at work and engagement. Psychological safety is another condition that was found to be strongly related to engagement in the same study with relations with one’s supervisor being its strongest predictor. This is not surprising, as supervisor’s support is one of the most important resources at work that may contribute to creation of a safety network (Edmondson, 1999). Schaufeli and Bakker (2004 : 294) questioned the use of Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), the same instrument that measures burnout to measure engagement, such that low scores on burnout are indicative of high engagement (e.g. Maslach & Leiter, 1997). These scholars asserted that just as with positive and negative affect, burnout and engagement are independent states rather than being mutually exclusive. The authors therefore recommend using two different instruments to measure burnout and engagement separately. Indeed, further examination has indicated that burnout and engagement have different antecedents and consequences. While job demands as well as lack of resources predict burnout, increase in engagement has been found to be associated only with availability of job-related resources (Schaufeli & Bakker, 2004). According to Demorouti et al. (2001) job resources include those physical, social, or organizational aspects of jobs that facilitate achievement of work goals, and stimulate personal growth and development while reducing job demands. It is important to note that resources are important not only because they regulate the effect of job demands, but also because of their motivational characteristics. This argument is in line with the job characteristics model (JCM) by Hackman and Oldham (1980) which includes autonomy, feedback and significance among the five core dimensions that affect employee motivation. However, while JCM focuses only on intrinsic motivation, JD-R posits that 18 resources may play an intrinsic (by way of autonomy, empowerment, feedback etc.) or extrinsic (social support, job security) motivational role (Bakker & Demerouti, 2008). In terms of outcomes, engaged employees have been found to be more creative, productive and more likely to display extra-role behaviors (Bakker & Demerouti, 2008). Work engagement has also been found to be a strong predictor of employee turnover (Halbesleben, 2010; Halbesleben & Wheeler, 2008), customer loyalty (Harter et al., 2002; Salanova et al., 2005), and financial performance (Harter et al., 2002; Xanthopolou, Bakker, Demerouti, & Schaufeli, 2009). In fact, it has been reported that a majority of workers today, roughly half of all Americans in the workforce, are either not fully engaged or are actively disengaged. This “engagement gap” is reported to cost US businesses $300 billion a year in lost productivity (Bates, 2004; Johnson, 2004). Also, engagement in meaningful work has been found to be related to personal benefits as perceived by the respondents (Britt, Adler, & Bartone, 2001). As mentioned earlier, engagement has been associated with the number of safety incidents at work as well as employee health. Given the importance of engagement for practical as well as humanistic reasons, practitioners and researchers need to identify and attend to the factors that contribute to employee engagement. Drawing from the work of Kahn (1990) and the JD-R framework as proposed by Schaufeli and Bakker (2004), I conceptualize work engagement as a psychological state that has emotional, cognitive, and behavioral components, and that is related to, but different from other similar constructs such as job involvement, organizational commitment, etc. At this point, I would like to clarify that while I recognize the role of job demands and potential burnout associated with frontline jobs in the service industry, given data collection constraints, this study 19 limits its focus to the motivational aspect of these jobs. As such I focus on the job resources and their influence on employee engagement. In doing so, I focus on two types of job resources. The first one, which is labeled job characteristics, refers to those intrinsic and extrinsic motivational characteristics of the job itself that serve as resources for those performing the job. The other job resource measured in this study is the perception of support received from one’s co-workers. Social Exchange Theory Social exchange theory (SET; Blau, 1964), which has been widely applied to work settings, posits that a series of interactions between parties who are in a state of reciprocal interdependence generates obligation. One of the core arguments of SET is that relationships evolve over time into trusting, loyal, and mutual commitments as long as the parties involved abide by certain “rules” of exchange (Cropanzano & Mitchell, 2005). Freeing exchange theory of its dyadic tradition, Emerson (1976) extended the analysis to a larger social structure by equating social norms of reciprocity to a more generalized exchange. Generalized exchange implies the existence of exchange networks that involve three or more actors. This notion of exchange networks or generalized exchange (Emerson, 1976; Yamagishi & Cook, 1993) implies a unidirectional process wherein what one actor gives to the other is not dependent upon whether he or she has received from that person. Rather, it is characterized by a lack of such direct one-to-one exchange between two actors. To elaborate, if actor A helps actor B, actor B does not return the favor directly to actor A. Rather, someone else in the network (say actor C) may receive the help from B (Lee, Lee, & Wadhwa, 2010). These norms of indirect reciprocity as explained by the notion of generalized exchange may explain why subordinates may respond to a supportive supervisor by way of offering support to their co-workers. To elaborate, when employees have a supportive supervisor who 20 provides coaching and guidance, sets clear expectations, is available when needed, is open to feedback and opinion, cares about them, and treats them with respect, they feel obliged to reciprocate by way of an indirect exchange. As a result, experiences of supervisory support are likely to be accompanied by similar experiences of co-worker support. The above perspectives serve as the theoretical framework for this study. In the next section I draw upon these theoretical underpinnings to propose a series of research hypotheses. 21 HYPOTHESES Extant research has emphasized the multidimensional nature of the construct of organizational effectiveness (Meyer & Gupta, 1994). Drawing from this perspective, Dyer and Reeves (1995) delineated four integral dimensions of the construct in the context of SHRM research. These include (1) HR outcomes (employee behavior and attitudes); (2) organizational outcomes (productivity, quality, and service); (3) financial outcomes (profitability, return on investment), and finally (4) capital market outcomes (shareholder returns and stock values). However, as Way and Johnson (2005) pointed out in their review, most examinations of the SHRM- performance linkage have systematically excluded HR outcomes from their studies (barring a few that include Arthur, 1994; Batt, 2002; Guthrie, 2001) thereby adopting a very narrow definition of performance. The authors further asserted that while recent studies reflect a shift of attention in the direction of examining other stakeholders (e.g., Whitener, 2001; Takeuchi et al., 2009), very few studies have examined them together in an integrated framework (e.g. Chuang & Liao, 2010; Liao & Chuang, 2004; Nishii, et al., 2008). Thus, by adopting a stakeholder perspective, this study hopes to further the advances made by these scholars. The four sets of outcomes that measure organizational effectiveness in this study are employee experiences of job resources and engagement, employee turnover, customers' satisfaction with service and their loyalty, and unit level indicators of organizational performance. The following hypotheses and supporting discussion shed light on the proposed linkages. 2.1 HIWS and Engagement: The Mediating Role of Job Characteristics Organizational HR policies and practices can have a large effect on how organizational members make sense of their work context. This process of sense-making involves attributing 22 meaning, and thereby developing experiential-based perceptions about the goals of the organization, how one is expected to perform day-to-day activities at work, and the kind of behaviors that get rewarded and supported in a particular setting. As highlighted by Bowen and Ostroff (2004) and recently examined by Takeuchi, Chen, and Lepak (2009), HIWS can be an important source that shape these perceptions. HIWS are designed to increase employee knowledge, skills, autonomy, motivation, and latitude (Arthur 1992). As indicated earlier, while specific policies and practices in each bundle may differ, they generally comprise an effective staffing system (can be formal or informal) which may convey to the employees that the organization cares about the quality of its employees (Takeuchi et al., 2009) and that they are among the “selected few”. This in combination with regular training and development opportunities, ensures KSA and a sense of competence. Likewise, internal promotion opportunities, above market and skill-based pay, recognitions such as “employee of the month”, etc. foster a sense of achievement, significance, and motivation. Further, practices such as information sharing, regular feedback, communication, and participation in decision making are likely to foster a sense of involvement and experienced sense of knowledge of results. Finally, working in teams and job rotation not only offer job variety and learning but also create an organizational structure that facilitates creation of intra-organizational networks. These social networks also promote a sense of social connections and support. It is not surprising that a study by Macky and Boxall (2008) found increased experiences of high involvement work practices to be associated with job satisfaction. 23 These HR practices are even more “visible” in establishments such as retail stores and restaurants because of their small size (Takeuchi et al., 2009). Visibility has been found to be an important contributor to the strength of these HR systems which in turn facilitates the communication of unambiguous messages to organizational members (Bowen & Ostroff, 2004). HIWS bundles that are designed to foster autonomy, participation, feedback, and a social structure that is conducive to developing a sense of social connection should serve as important resources in work settings. For example, policies and practices focusing on regular training and development are likely to equip employees with KSAs and self-efficacy to deal with different situations encountered at work. Autonomy and latitude in decision making surrounding day-today tasks at work should contribute to a sense of involvement and psychological meaningfulness. As mentioned earlier, experiences of psychological meaningfulness at work have been found to be strong predictors of engagement (May et al., 2004). Fredrickson (2004) has suggested that organizational practices that provide autonomy, competence, and meaningfulness should increase experiences of positive emotions at work. These experiences of positive emotions have been found to be associated with work engagement (Bakker & Demerouti, 2008). A case in point is Southwest Airlines, which is known for providing great latitude to its flight attendants and other frontline employees in terms of being creative while interacting with customers. As Freiberg and Freiberg (1998), authors of the bestseller “Nuts! Southwest Airlines’ crazy recipe for business and personal success” put it, “Southwest people love working in an environment that encourages them to be themselves- even if they are nuts.” The authors further assert that people want to work at Southwest because it provides them with opportunities to experience a sense of meaning and significance by being involved in something larger than themselves. 24 Restaurant settings are characterized by a work environment in which the interactions between frontline employees and customers are direct, frequent, and of longer duration. The job exerts physical demands as well since servers always need to be moving between different tables to make sure that their guests are cared for. These regular and intense interactions with customers undertaken in a service-focused, “customer is always right” climate will require the regulation of feelings and expressions, referred to as emotional labor (Hochschild, 1983). Frequent emotional regulation has been found to lead to emotional dissonance (characterized by a discrepancy between emotions felt and those required to display), increased job demands, and decreased in-role performance (Bakker & Heuven, 2006). However, research indicates that availability of job resources contributes to work engagement particularly when demands are high (Bakker, Hakanen, Demerouti, & Xanthopolou, 2007). Drawing from these findings one can infer that perhaps HR practices that provide ways to allow for emotional expression at work will facilitate experiences of job resources, and in turn, engagement for these employees. In fact, Kahn (1990) argues that expression of emotions at work should strongly promote work engagement by fostering a sense of meaningfulness. Thus, HIWS that foster autonomy and involvement are likely to promote a sense of meaningfulness which, in turn, should promote work engagement. Further, management practices such as regular training and development of employees, discretion in one’s work, giving as well as soliciting employee feedback to improve quality of service, and appropriately rewarding employees whose suggestions make a difference, are likely to serve as resources that can mitigate the negative effects of emotional regulation. Moreover, communication and information sharing and participation in decision making are likely to convey experienced knowledge of result in terms of “what” and “how” of one’s job. This is 25 likely to reduce the element of unpredictability associated with frontline jobs imbued with long and frequent customer interactions. Moreover, practices such as an effective orientation training that explicitly discusses examples of difficult customer encounters while encouraging a thought process that can accommodate customers’ needs and interests should prevent or at least minimize instances of emotional regulation. In fact, a review by John and Gross (2004) suggested that changing how one thinks about the emotional event, rather than engaging in surface level emotional management, was found to be associated with enhanced well being and healthier social functioning. Ashforth and Humphrey (1993) emphasized that identification with one’s work should facilitate a feeling of authenticity even when engaged in emotional regulation. HIWS that are designed to promote autonomy and involvement should contribute to organizational identification. HIWS may also be a source of job resources by facilitating an integration of work and family roles. For instance, in the context of the service industry, HR practices such as considering off-work situations of frontline employees when making work schedules and flexible scheduling should increase experiences of job resources. Work engagement has been found to be associated with availability of resources (Schaufeli & Bakker, 2004). In fact, several studies have found a robust relationship between various job resources and employee engagement (e.g. Bakken & Torp, 2012; Bakker & Demerouti, 2008; Halbesleben, 2010; Halbesleben & Wheeler, 2008; May et al., 2004; Saks, 2006; Schaufeli & Bakker, 2004; Xanthopoulou et al, 2009). As mentioned earlier, job resources, by way of a dual-motivational processes, influence both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. Intrinsically, these resources promote empowerment, employee growth, and learning, thereby providing a sense of competence and self determination. 26 Extrinsically, they enable employees to achieve their work goals and also fulfill their need for belongingness (Demerouti et al., 2001). Along the same lines, it has been suggested that job resources impact employee engagement by way of facilitating experiences of meaningfulness, and psychological safety and availability (Kahn, 1990; May et al., 2004). Further, resources have been found to play an even more crucial role when job demands are high (Bakker et al., 2007). Thus, a comprehensive bundle of HR practices that create the “right” balance of demands and resources is likely to mitigate experiences of work related burnout and increase employee experiences of engagement at work. This leads to the following Hypothesis: Hypothesis 1. Job characteristics will partially mediate the positive relationship between HIWS and Work Engagement. Supervisory Support and Engagement: The Mediating Role of Job Resources (Job Characteristics and Co-worker Support) Organizational research has highlighted the crucial role that supervisors play in determining employees’ job-related outcomes (O’Driscoll & Beehr, 1994). Supervisors structure employees’ immediate work environment and impact employees’ perceptions of the work climate at large. Immediate supervisors are not only an important source of information and resources (feedback, training, etc.) but are also the providers of socio-political support (endorsement, legitimacy, etc.; Kanter, 1988). Consequently, supervisory behavior may evoke strong affective reactions in employees (Durham, Knight, & Locke, 1997). According to Deci and Ryan (1987) supportive supervisors typically display a concern for employees’ feelings, encourage them to voice their concern and provide them with positive feedback. Previous research has indicated that consideration and feedback provided by the immediate supervisor can reduce role stress (Dubinsky & Skinner, 1984). Drawing from Deci and Ryan (1987) this study 27 also conceptualizes a supportive supervisor as one who provides coaching and guidance, sets clear expectations, is available when needed, is open to feedback and opinion, cares about employees, and treats them with respect. While some have suggested that leadership behavior displayed by the supervisor may altogether prevent occurrences of stress and burnout, others have emphasized the buffering effect of supervisory support on these employee outcomes (Kirmeyer & Dougherty, 1988). For instance, Pirola-Merlo, Hartel, Mann, and Hirst (2002) found that facilitative and transformational leadership behavior of leaders counterbalanced the negative impact of obstacles confronted by the team on team climate. Babin and Boles (1996) also found perceptions of supervisory support to be associated with reduced stress. Yet another study indicated that supervisors play an important role in counterbalancing the negative impact of emotional regulation (Bono, Foldes, Vinson, & Muros, 2007). Extant literature has also found a positive relationship between supportive supervision and enhanced trust (Britt, 1999).This enhanced trust may influence how people feel about their job and, in turn, affect their behavior. Employees’ perception that their supervisor cares about their well being has also been found to be related to a positive appraisal of the work climate (Kopelman, Brief, & Guzzo, 1990) which constitutes an important job resource. Larsen, McGraw, and Cacioppo (2001) direct our attention to the experiences of emotional ambivalence (mixed emotions) in work settings. Emotional ambivalence refers to the simultaneous experiences of positive and negative emotions surrounding the same event. Although most everyone should be able to recall instances or conflicting situations when one experienced these unique emotions, employees in service settings are particularly likely to have frequent encounters that may evoke these emotions. Drawing from social information theory, 28 Larsen et al. (2001) suggest that such environmental cues in the form of conflicting emotions signal that one is in an unusual environment where seemingly unrelated situations could cooccur. One can easily see this happening in service encounters such as the ones experienced by call center employees or servers in a typical restaurant setting where employees are sometimes expected to deal with seemingly conflicting demands. For instance, a server may enjoy the interactions with guests on a particular table but at the same time experience the pressure of attending to other customers. The emotional ambivalence literature indicates that such simultaneous experiences of conflicting emotions lead to creativity (Fong, 2006). Building on that argument I argue that for these mixed emotions to be strong predictors of creativity and other important job-related outcomes, the work environment needs to signal a sense of safety and support of which one’s immediate supervisor is the prime source (May et al., 2004). Thus, it is evident that perceptions of supervisory support may significantly impact how employees experience their job. Those who perceive their supervisor as supportive experience a sense of psychological safety and are more likely to characterize their jobs as providing empowerment, flexibility, open and timely communication, creativity, etc. These job characteristics, by way of dual-motivational processes, promote employee experiences of meaningfulness, and psychological availability and safety (Kahn, 1990; May et al., 2004). Thus, based on the above discussion, the following is proposed. As mentioned earlier, job resources by way of a dual- motivational process, influences both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. Hypothesis 2a. Job characteristics will partially mediate the positive relationship between supervisory support and engagement. 29 In organizational settings, one’s immediate supervisor is the prime source of social support (Maslach, Schaufelli, & Leiter, 2001). The other important source of social support is supportive co-workers. Rewarding co-worker interactions that are supportive and trusting foster a sense of belonging and psychological safety. These also contribute to experiencing work as more meaningful (May et al., 2004). Drawing from social exchange theory, particularly from the notion of generalized/indirect exchange, one could argue that employees who experience supervisory support may indirectly reciprocate by offering support to their fellow co-workers. As a result, experiences of supervisory support are likely to be accompanied by experiences of support from co-workers. Leader-member exchange which is an important form of social exchange (Liden, Sparrowe, & Wayne, 1997), has been found to predict supervisor-directed organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) (Settoon, Bennett, & Liden, 1996; Wayne, Shore, & Liden, 1997). The supervisor-directed OCB includes actions that benefit supervisor. Extending support to one’s co-workers could also be viewed as one such supervisor-directed OCB for having a team of supportive subordinates who trust, respect, and help each other during tough times, celebrate each others’ personal achievements and successes, and keep the team morale high can make a supervisor’s job much easier. As mentioned earlier, social support from team members fosters a sense of psychological safety (May et al., 2004). Psychological safety, which is an important antecedent of engagement has been defined as “feeling able to show and employ one’s self without fear of negative consequences to self-image, status, or career.” Having supportive co-workers who can be relied upon when handing conflicting and challenging job demands should contribute to this sense of psychological safety. Moreover, having this resource available at a time when job demands are 30 high can be even more crucial in promoting experiences of employee engagement (Hobfall & Freedy, 1993). As discussed earlier, the job of a frontline employee in a restaurant involves long and frequent interactions with customers and is usually accompanied by varying degrees of emotional regulation. Ashforth and Humphrey (1993) emphasized that identification with one’s work should facilitate a feeling of authenticity even when engaged in emotional regulation. To the extent that co-worker interactions foster a sense of belonging, thereby facilitating a stronger sense of identity and meaning, they should buffer the negative impact of emotional regulation on the human spirit. This likely explains Abraham’s (1998) finding of no association between emotional labor and job satisfaction in the presence of social support. The experienced sense of meaningfulness and psychological safety fostered by social support increase the experiences of work engagement (Leiter & Maslach, 1988). Thus, the following is proposed: Hypothesis 2b. Co-worker support will partially mediate the positive relationship between supervisory support and engagement. Moderating Effect of Supervisory Support and HIWS on Job Characteristics In small business settings such as restaurants, line managers are often the most salient individuals. Becker and Huselid (2006) emphasize the role of these line managers in influencing human resources management strategy. Others have also suggested that these line managers are much more than simply being the “robotic conformists” when it comes to implementing people management practices (e.g. Marchington & Grugulis, 2000; Purcell & Hutchinson, 2007). Consequently, if these restaurant managers vary significantly in how they implement the HR practices, then the reactions such practices evoke in employees may also be very different. Therefore, while HIWS policies and practices such as promoting empowerment, work life 31 balance, etc., may contribute to employee experiences of autonomy and reduction of workfamily conflict, respectively, it has been suggested that their mere existence is a necessary but not a sufficient condition (Allen, 2001). Implementation of most of these supporting policies and practices is at the discretion of one’s immediate supervisor (Beehr, Farmer, Glazer, Gudanowski & Nair, 2003). This would be especially true in small settings where such practices may not have been formalized, leaving a lot to individual interpretation. Moreover, drawing from the theory of situational strength (Mischel, 1973), one could argue that if the behavior of line manager signals an endorsement of HR practices of the organization, then it creates a “strong situation” which sends unambiguous messages to the employees regarding the expected behavior. On the other hand, if the supervisor’s behavior is not compatible with the intended message of the HR practices, then it creates a “weak situation” which may not only affect the strength of the relationship between HIWS and employee experiences, but also change the direction of that effect. Additionally, as emphasized by Bowen and Ostroff (2004) and Takeuchi et al. (2009) a unit’s work climate as perceived by the employees mediates the relationship between HIWS and employees’ attitudes and behavior. Hence, in the context of the service industry, where the focus is to create a work climate conducive to service quality, supervisory support would be an important determinant of the strength of the relationship between HR practices and employees’ perceptions of, and reactions to these practices. Nishii et al. (2008) also bring to our attention the importance of employee attributions in their study. The authors found that depending upon the attributions employees make, the same HR practices may be experienced differently. To elaborate, the study indicated that while the commitment-focused attributions (such as service quality and employee well being) are 32 positively associated with employees’ commitment and job satisfaction, the control-focused attributions (such as cost reduction and employee exploitation) are negatively associated with these outcomes. Building on these very important findings, I argue that immediate supervisors are among the most important sources that shape employee attributions in a unit. While a supportive supervisor may positively contribute to the relationship between HIWS and job resources, a control-oriented supervisor may contribute to decreased experiences. Likewise, having a supportive supervisor alone may not ensure the availability of job characteristics such as empowerment, communication, creativity, and flexibility. For instance, even if a supervisor promotes empowerment, it may end up negatively impacting engagement if employees are not equipped with the KSAs and motivation to utilize empowerment as a job resource. In this instance empowerment may be experienced more as a demand than as a resource. Employing HIWS that include practices such as effective selection, training and development, and monetary and non-monetary incentives would ensure that employees have the KSA and motivation to utilize the job resources effectively, rather than finding them overwhelming. Thus the following is proposed: Hypothesis 3. Supervisory support and HIWS will moderate the effect of each other on job characteristics such that job characteristics will be experienced the most when both HIWS and supervisory support are high. Job Characteristics and Employee Turnover (Voluntary and Involuntary): The Mediating Role of Engagement The relationship between engagement and various employee attitudes and behaviors has generated a lot of attention both amongst practitioners and researchers (e.g., Halbesleben & Wheeler, 2008; Harter et al.; Macey & Schneider, 2008). Studies examining the relationship 33 between engagement and turnover have found the two to be negatively related. (e.g., Bhatnagar, 2007; Halbesleben, 2010; Halbesleben & Wheeler, 2008; Harter et al., 2002; Korunka, Kubicek, Schaufeli, & Hoonakker, 2009; Saks, 2006). Intuitively this makes sense. If an employee is not excited or energized about his/her job, then it is very likely that this individual is staying with the organization because of continuance commitment and would quit as soon as a better alternative is available. On the other hand, engaged employees identify with and are dedicated to their jobs (Halbesleben & Wheeler, 2008). Such employees are also likely to experience affective commitment toward their employers, which has been found to be negatively related to organizational turnover (see Meyer & Allen, 1991; Rhoades, Eisenberger, & Armeli, 2001). Engaged employees are also hesitant to quit because of the availability of resources at their disposal (De Lange, et al., 2008). They may feel that they would have to start all over again if they leave to take a new job. This is consistent with the conservation of resources theory which emphasizes that individuals are very sensitive to the loss of resources and are focused on preventing that from occurring (Hobfall & Freedy, 1993). Finally, employing the social exchange perspective, Saks (2006) argues that employees feel obligated to reciprocate in return for job resources that are made available to them by employers. As a result they are more likely to be engaged and are less likely to harbor quit intentions. Other studies have also found engagement to play a mediating role in the relationship between job resources and voluntary turnover (e.g., Halbesleben, 2010; Halbesleben & Wheeler, 2008; Korunka et al., 2009). This is consistent with the link between job resources and engagement proposed earlier. 34 To my knowledge, there is no study to date that has examined the effect of engagement on involuntary turnover. However, one could argue that employees who take pride in their job, and are excited about it, are less likely to engage in behaviors that could potentially cause an involuntary turnover. On the other hand, nonengaged employees are more likely to get distracted because of their indifferent attitude toward their job. Consistent with this argument, research has indicated that employees who are low on engagement are also likely to be low on both in-role and extra-role performance (Bakker & Demerouti, 2008; Chung & Angeline, 2010). As mentioned earlier, nonengaged employees are also likely to have a significantly higher rate of work safety incidents (Vance, 2006). This leads to the following hypotheses: Hypothesis 4a: Employee engagement will partially mediate the negative relationship between job characteristics and voluntary turnover. Hypothesis 4b: Employee engagement will partially mediate the negative relationship between job characteristics and involuntary turnover. Relatively recent research has found job resources, including availability of tools and methods, training, communication and feedback, to significantly influence voluntary turnover (Hurley & Estelami, 2007). In fact, extant literature suggests that part-time employees may be even more sensitive to the quality of their work environment compared to their full-time counterparts. It has been argued that these employees likely experience relatively lower levels of organizational commitment and therefore are more likely to quit due to lower work quality (Fenton-O’Creevy, 1995; Hunt & Morgan, 1994). This may be especially true in service environments that are characterized by frequent employee-customer interactions. Hence, although the existing research suggests full mediation (e.g., Korunka et al., 2009), for this sample, job characteristics may also have 35 a direct relationship with voluntary turnover, over and above the mediating effects of work engagement. This leads to the following Hypothesis: Hypothesis 4c: Job characteristics will be negatively related to voluntary turnover. Engagement and Customer Loyalty: The Mediating Role of Customer Evaluation of Service In the service industry, the quality of interactions of frontline employees with their customers is perhaps the most important determinant of customer satisfaction. As established earlier, dining out is more of an emotional experience. Therefore, while the quality of food matters, it is the behavior of servers and other frontline employees that plays a central role in customers’ overall experience and their loyalty (Chuang & Liao, 2010; Liao & Chuang, 2004). Extant research has found a strong association between reliable, helpful, friendly, and responsive employees and overall customer satisfaction (Borucki & Burke, 1999; Chuang & Liao, 2010; Liao & Chuang, 2004). Engaged employees who are full of energy and enthusiasm, are resilient, and take pride in their work are likely to be helpful, courteous and responsive toward their customers and would therefore be received positively by the customers. Supportive empirical evidence is provided by extant research that has found engaged workers to be more creative, more productive, and more likely to engage in extra-role behaviors (Bakker & Demerouti, 2008; Chung & Angeline, 2010). Work engagement has also been found to be a good predictor of customer loyalty (Harter et al., 2002; Salanova et al., 2005). In sum, one could infer that engaged employees who are more likely to be excited and energetic about work, display extra-role performance, and take pride in their work would be received well by the recipients of their service. This, in turn, should increase 36 the likelihood of having loyal customers who not only provide repeat business opportunities but who are also “apostles” for the business. This leads to the following hypothesis. Hypothesis 5. Customer evaluation will mediate the positive relationship between engagement and customer loyalty. Customer Evaluation of Service and Indicators of Unit Performance: Mediating Role of Customer Loyalty. Extant literature has found that perceptions of work climate impact customer satisfaction and a unit’s financial performance (e.g., Borucki & Burke, 1999). Employees who perceive their work climate as one that is characterized by “concern for employee” are likely to experience a sense of psychological safety and meaningfulness. These experiences have also been found to be associated with work engagement (May et al., 2004). Engaged workers have a positive effect on indicators of firm performance (Harter et al., 2002; Xanthopoulou, et al. 2009). George (1991) found that a salesperson’s customer-focused OCB (as rated by their supervisors) was significantly related to the sales generated by that person. OCB or extra-role performance has been found to be related with work engagement (Bakker & Demerouti, 2008) A more recent examination by Chuang and Liao (2010) found manager-rated service performance to be a significant predictor of superior market performance. The link between customer satisfaction and sales informs and guides management practice. Perhaps it is because of this deep rooted belief that organizations are willing to invest their time and money in finding ways to increase customer satisfaction (Schneider, Ehrhart, Mayer, Saltz, & Niles-Jolly, 2005). In fact, the marketing literature has found very robust results for this relationship (Keiningham & Vavra, 2001). One logical explanation for this relationship would be that engaged employees because of their in-role and extra-role behaviors, would 37 deliver higher levels of service performance. This, in turn, would be reciprocated by the customer in the form of customer loyalty. Finally, customer loyalty should result in both increased organizational traffic and sales (Lovelock & Wirtz, 2004). In an attempt to replicate these existing findings in this study’s setting, the following hypotheses are proposed: Hypothesis 6a. Customer loyalty will partially mediate the positive relationship between customer evaluation and unit traffic. Hypothesis 6b. Customer loyalty will partially mediate the positive relationship between customer evaluation and unit sales. 38 METHODS 3.1 Organizational Context The setting for the current study is a U.S. based restaurant franchise chain with operations at both national and international levels. This study limits its focus to the domestic operations of the franchisor. According to one estimate, franchising accounts for more than $1 trillion annually in retail sales in the United States that is generated by 320,000 small businesses across 75 industries (Fenwick, 2001). Thus, the franchising world clearly is an important component of the economy. Franchising is referred to as a hybrid organizational arrangement because many franchisors choose to retain ownership of some units (referred to as corporate owned/corporate franchise) while franchising others (Child, 1987). Based on information from my organizational contact person, even though the corporate owned units are all owned by the franchising chain, they function in a very decentralized fashion. The unit managers are responsible for most day-to-day people management practices, ranging from recruitment, orientation, and training, to performance evaluation for the hourly employees. Hence, these units are semi-autonomous, are characterized by informality, and operate like small businesses. Based on my observations both as a researcher and as a guest in these restaurants multiple times, I would like to point out that waiting tables in a casual full-service dining restaurant is more challenging than one may assume. Servers are expected to perform a variety of tasks simultaneously. While guests at one table may want suggestions or more information about certain menu items, those on another table may be ready for their check. Yet another table may have customers who need a refill of their beverage. And then there are customers who got the wrong order, want to substitute one of the sides with something else that is not provided as a 39 standard option on the menu, or simply want to engage in a conversation. While these examples are certainly not exhaustive, they illustrate the demands of the restaurant service role. As is obvious, in this type of setting, the quality of interactions between frontline employees and customers dictate unit-level customer satisfaction with service performance and, in turn, their loyalty. Moreover, as indicated earlier, unlike many businesses in the service sector, hospitality is unique because here the customer pays for the overall experience. People often dine out to celebrate special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries, enjoy work get-togethers, have quality time with family or just have a dinner date. Whatever the reason, the quality of interactions with their server can have a huge impact on their overall experience. As William Marriott, founder of Marriott Corporation put it “in the service business you can’t make happy guests with unhappy employees (Hostage, 1975: 98). It is also important to note that since the franchise chain in question comprises restaurants that offer full service dining, the environment is not as standardized as it would be in a fast food restaurant. The interactions between the servers and guests are much longer and more frequent, thereby also affecting the quality of those interactions. Although uniformity of customer experience is a goal since the predictability of the food and experience associated with the brand is one of the factors that drive the incoming traffic, the quantity and quality of frontline employee-guest interactions demands customization. Hence, I do not believe that customer-employee interactions in this sample would be as mechanized as the ones suggested in the study on frontline employees in a cinema chain by Boxall et al. (2011). In terms of situation strength, given the highly scripted behavior, the situation in the context of cinema chain could be characterized as “strong”. On the other hand, 40 the same in full service, casual dining restaurant is relatively “weak” with increased unpredictability associated with the employee-customer interactions. Thus, I expect a work design that promotes empowerment, communication, information sharing, etc. to be more effective for this population compared to one that is characterized by more of a Taylorist paradigm. 3.2 Research Design The data for this study were obtained at multiple levels (employee and store levels), from multiple sources. Also, both perceptual and objective measures were utilized. The restaurant level data on HIWS were obtained from managers of all the participating restaurants. The frontline employees from the participating restaurants were the source of employee level data on supervisory support, job resources and engagement. Finally the data on turnover (involuntary and voluntary), unit traffic and unit sales were obtained from the franchisor for all the participating restaurants. These data are maintained by the organization on a regular basis. Further, a time lag of about three months was provided between the data collection on employee level, perceptual, independent and mediating measures and organizational level, objective, dependent measures. This strategy, coupled with strong theoretical underpinnings, enhances the researcher's ability to draw causal conclusions. The data on HIWS were collected using online-survey methodology by the author between April-May 2012. Prior to data collection, several rounds of informal discussion were conducted with a senior representative of the management team at the franchisor’s office. These qualitative assessments not only allowed me to have a better understanding of my research site but they also provided deeper insight into the phenomena being studied. This, in turn, facilitated a more informed interpretation of the quantitative responses. 41 Further, a pilot testing of the survey measure was completed with two junior members in the training and development department of the franchisor who provided feedback on the nature and the language of the questions, and the length of the survey. Both of these employees had worked as frontline employees in one of the corporate-owned restaurants before being promoted to their current position. Therefore, their feedback was very valuable. Feedback was also sought from a senior executive in the same department. This information was used to further refine the survey instrument. An online-version of the finalized survey was developed that included the HIWS measure and a few other demographic questions. The online survey was designed in a way that required participants to respond to all the questions on one page before they could move to the next page. This strategy significantly reduced the chances of missing data. However, participants were given the option to not respond to the demographic questions, if they chose. Prior to launching the survey, an e-mail memo was sent by the Head of Training and Development to all the regional HR directors/managers informing them of the purpose of the study and soliciting their support for the project. This was followed by an e-mail from the human resources department to all the restaurant managers informing them about the online survey and encouraging them to participate. They were assured that the responses would go directly to the researcher and that the company would never have access to any individual information. Two days after this communication from the franchisor, restaurant managers from all of the 161 corporate-owned restaurants received an e mail invitation from me to participate in the study. The invitation described the voluntary nature of the participation while assuring the participants about the confidentiality and anonymity associated with the study. The participants were also requested to read the attached information statement for more details or questions about the study. An online link to the survey created using the Qualtrics survey software was 42 sent along with this invitation. Each restaurant received a unique link so as to enable the matching of manager responses with the restaurants. A week after the survey was launched, e-mail reminders were sent along with the survey links to all the participating restaurants. A reminder by the Regional HR Heads was sent the following week to the restaurants from where fewer than two responses were received. This reminder was immediately followed by a reminder from me along with the survey links. These contacts resulted in a total of 310 responses from managers representing about 138 restaurants providing an overall response rate of 86%. Employee-level data were extracted from a larger survey that was conducted recently (September-October, 2011) on behalf of the franchisor by a third party. These data were collected from all the corporate-owned restaurants. Since this was an internal survey conducted on behalf of the organization, the response rate was high. The final usable sample had a response rate of at least 50% from about 90% of the restaurants with an average of 27 responses per restaurant. I obtained store level data on the outcome measures (employee turnover, customer evaluation of service and loyalty, traffic, and sales) from the franchisor for the period of JanuaryMarch, 2012 (quarterly). This allowed me to procure the data on employee experiences and organizational performance in the right sequence while ensuring a good distance between the two (Wright, Gardner, Moynihan, & Allen, 2005). The data on employee turnover were obtained separately for involuntary and voluntary turnover to allow for a separate analysis for the two. It has been suggested that while the two are related, they are distinct from each other (Shaw, Delery, Jenkins, & Gupta, 1998). These authors found that although the two types of turnover are definitely related, they cannot be taken as 43 synonymous for they may have different antecedents as well as outcomes. These scholars also note that while the distinction between voluntary and involuntary turnover is well established in the management literature on individuals organizational level research has often lumped the two types of turnover together (e.g., Batt 2002). Given the situational constraints, I was not able to collect data on HIWS in the ideal sequence as suggested by Wright et al. (2005). However, the managers were asked to reflect back and specifically indicate the extent to which the statements in the HIWS survey accurately defined the job of the frontline employees (servers, hosts, etc.) in their restaurant. Further, responses from managers who reported their job tenure at the restaurant as less than six months were excluded from the study. The remaining managers were all employed by the franchisor at the time of employee-level data collection conducted on behalf of the franchisor and were also better aware of the HR policies and practices being implemented. Also, while the restaurants are corporately owned, the Vice-Presidents, Training and Human Resources, respectively, both indicated that these are operated in a decentralized fashion and that there also exists regional differences. In fact it has been suggested that the diversity of HR systems is much greater in firms that incorporate a range of establishments (Boxall et al., 2011). Moreover, most of the HR practices included in the measure are informal. Therefore, their implementation should vary depending upon their interpretation. While providing their take on the linkage between the HIWS and the organizational outcomes, Wright and Nishii (2006) provided a causal chain that delineates how intended practices lead to actual practices, which in turn, leads to the perception of these practices by the employees. These perceptions evoke reactions in employees by influencing their abilities, motivation, and attitude. Finally these employee reactions, in turn, influence organizational performance. 44 This causal model highlights the gap between management’s intentions and action. The intended practices as outlined in the organizational manual may not always mirror those implemented by the restaurant managers. In some cases, it may require an “intelligent adaptation” to make them work given the realities on the ground. It may also be a case where the managers reinterpret these policies for their own vested interests (Batt, 2004). Hence, overall, there was enough evidence to believe that the practices would vary between the restaurants. Results of reliability estimates (Rwg), and intraclass correlations (ICC(1) & ICC(2)) also supported this assumption (details in the analysis section). 3.3 Sample The final sample for this study consisted of 248 managers representing 119 corporateowned stores spread across the Midwest and the East Coast regions of the United States. Multiple responses were received from more than two-third (68%) of these restaurants. The average number of managerial responses per restaurant was 2.6. Among these 248 managers representing the participating restaurants, about half (48%) had been employed at their respective restaurant for more than 4 years, about a third for 1-4 years, and about one-eighth (13%) had a job tenure of 6 month to 1 year with their unit. More than half of these managers were male (57.8%), under forty years of age (62%), and were predominantly white (91%). Their job titles ranged from General Manager and Assistant Manager, to Bar Manager, Kitchen Manager, and Service Manager. As aforementioned, the data for the frontline employees were extracted from a larger survey conducted on behalf of the organization. Given the nature of the research question, only those employees who identified themselves as frontline employees were selected to be a part of this study. The final sample comprised 3218 employees nested within the 119 restaurants for 45 which the HIWS data were available. More than two-third (70%) of these employees were female. About three-fourth (74.4%) were 30 years old or younger. More than half (62.4%) reported their job tenure as under three years, about a fifth (17.1%) had been employed between 3-5 years, and a little more than a fifth (20.5%) had a job tenure of more than five years with their unit. 3.4 Assessment of Reliability and Validity Several steps were taken to determine the validity and reliability of the self-report data. First, interrater agreement on the HIWS ratings was assessed using using R wg (James, Demaree, & Wolf, 1984). The mean Rwg of the final sample (N=119) was .78 for the HIWS scale. This value was well above the rule of thumb value of .60 (James, 1982) and the more commonly accepted value of .70. This analysis was supplemented with the analysis of intraclass correlations (ICC(1) & ICC(2)). The ICC(1) was calculated from the one-way random-effects ANOVA (obtained using SPSS) using Bartko formula (1976; as recommended by Kozlowski & Klein, 2000). The ICC(1) for the HIWS scale was .30. This value suggested that 30% of the variance in the managers’ rating was because of their unit membership (see Bryk & Raudenbush, 1992; James, 1982). ICC(1) obtained using Mplus generated the same result. While no rule of thumb value has been recommended for ICC(1), .30 far exceeded the median value of .12 as reported by James (1982). ICC (2) which is an index of reliability of group mean was calculated using the Spearman Brown formula (Shrout & Fleiss, 1979). The ICC (2) for the scale was .52 which was slightly lower than the cutoff of .60 as recommended by Glick (1985). However, this value is comparable to what is commonly reported in the literature in SHRM (e.g. Datta et al., 2005; Takeuchi et al., 2007). Moreover, James (1982) recommends using ICC(1) as an indicator of interrater reliability 46 and consequently as a criterion for aggregating. Gerhart et al. (2000) also recommended the use of ICC(1) as a guide to make decisions about aggregation in SHRM research. In fact, this criterion has been employed as a standard guide by the extant research in the area (e.g., Schneider et al., 2005; Takeuchi et al., 2007). Hence there was enough evidence to justify aggregation of manager responses on the HIWS scale. While I could not verify the interrater reliability for about 32% of the restaurants because of the availability of only one respondent from these units, I believe that might not be a big concern given the relatively smaller size of the units. The total number of employees in all the restaurants included in this study was about 60-80, the average number of frontline employees was less than 50. The number of restaurant managers in each restaurant ranged from 3-5. Further, a restaurant manager being the frontline manager would be considered to be very familiar with the HR practices being implemented in his/her establishment and therefore should be the most suitable rater to assess these practices (Chuang & Liao, 2010). . In fact, while debating the validity of single raters, Gerhart et al. (2000) also acknowledged that the reliability was likely to much higher in smaller units. In addition, I requested the respondents to focus exclusively on the HR practices for the frontline employees and not those for all employees. This focus is likely to increase the accuracy in the managers’ evaluations considering that the HR practices might vary for different types of employees (Lepak & Snell, 1999) 3.5 Measures 3.5.1 Independent, moderating, and mediating variables High Involvement Work Systems (HIWS). HIWS were measured using a 21-item scale adopted from Chuang and Liao (2010), Lepak and Snell (2002), and Batt (2002). The language of the 47 questions was modified slightly to meet the context. Additionally, based on informal discussions during the pilot testing, a question enquiring about the help employees received to prevent mistreatment from the guests was added to the measure. Restaurant managers rated the extent to which they believed the practices existed for the frontline employees on a 5-point scale ranging from “strongly disagree” (1) to “strongly agree” (5). Since this study focuses only on the frontline employees, data were collected only on the existence of practices and not the extent of coverage (in terms of percentage of different e...
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Natural setting
Qualitative researchers collect data from the actual site where the participants of the
study experience a problem. Therefore, for this study, the setting is a U.S. based franchise
restaurant with a wide range of operations both domestically and internationally (Pg 39).
Researcher as an instrument
This implies that the qualitative researchers collect data themselves by observation,
interviews, and examining documents. The researcher used observation whereby he was a guest
at the restaurant and deduce...

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