LINKING HIGH INVOLVEMENT ENVIRONMENTS TO THE ORGANIZATIONAL

LINKING HIGH INVOLVEMENT ENVIRONMENTS TO THE ORGANIZATIONAL...

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LINKING HIGH INVOLVEMENT ENVIRONMENTS TO THE ORGANIZATIONAL LIFE CYCLE: A DESCRIPTIVE AND PRESCRIPTIVE APPROACH MARK A. CIAVARELLA Terry College of Business University of Georgia Athens, GA 30602 INTRODUCTION A considerable amount of research has been devoted to the importance of employees in the success of organizations. Largely affecting this research interest has been a rise in the service economy, downsizing, and global competition (Mohrman & Lawler, 1997) resulting in attempts to find the determinants of internal resources and capabilities that maintain organizational success. Moreover, the 1990s have brought to the forefront topics such as customer satisfaction, worker knowledge, empowerment, and worker effectiveness vis-a-vis traditional manufacturing emphasis normally placed on production processes and efficiency in the 1980s (Hoskisson, Hitt, Wan, & Yiu, 1999; Lawler, Mohrman, & Ledford, 1995). Organizations entering the new century confronted by global competition and increased customer expectations must increase their efforts to understand the operation of internal processes that increase overall worker effectiveness. One of the most cited streams of literature elucidating the processes that improve worker effectiveness has been that of employee involvement (EI) (Lawler, 1986). The central idea behind the movement is to push high involvement work processes (HIWP) comprised of power, information, rewards, and knowledge down the organization to lower level employees who deal with customers on a daily basis (Lawler, 1986; 1992). Power refers to giving lower level employees more leeway in making decisions, and as such, is often synonymous with participative decision making. Giving employees more authority over how and what decisions are made is posited to lead to higher motivation and job satisfaction, as well as better decision making, coordination, and communication. Information refers to sharing information with all employees with respect to business performance, plans, and goals. Providing information to employees is not only necessary to provide a foundation for higher levels of power and knowledge in the organization, but it also leads to higher quality decisions and suggestions as to how work processes can be improved. Rewards are designed to guide employee actions toward the benefit of organizational performance and to ensure that they share in the subsequent gains (Lawler, 1990). It is essential that rewards follow and are closely tied to performance in order for employees to be motivated to improve work processes. Knowledge focuses on developing skills of employees so that they can effectively perform on their jobs, leading to higher quality output. Obviously, not being trained with the skills necessary to perform on the job will minimize the likelihood of performing at or above expectations.
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