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Job Autonomy

Autor:   •  March 8, 2011  •  Essay  •  696 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,027 Views

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According to the resource-based view of the firm (Barney & Link, 1991; Penrose, 1959), competitive advantage can be developed and sustained by creating value in a way that is rare and difficult for competitors to imitate. The resource-based view of the firm argues that traditional sources of competitive advantage like natural resources, technology and economies of scale, are sources that are increasingly easy to imitate, especially in comparison to complex social structures like the employment system within the organisation. In this case human resource strategies may be an important source of sustained competitive advantage (Lado & Wilson, 1994; Pfeffer, 1994), because they may be valuable, rare, inimitable and non-substitutable (Wright, McMahan and McWilliams, 1994). According to Barney & Link (1991) causal ambiguity and path dependency are two of the key factors making human resource practices difficult to imitate. First, it may be difficult to understand the precise mechanisms behind human resource practices. Second, the functioning of human resource practices is often complex because the value is determined by the interplay between human resource practices and firm policies. Understanding these systems of practices is an organisational capability that is spread across departments and people in the firm. These systems are moreover path dependent since they often have been developed over time and cannot be purchased in the market by competitors. Even if single employees can be hired from the competitors, the management of competing firms may have difficulties in replicating socially complex elements like culture and interpersonal relationships. Others argue that it is the human resource itself which generates the competitive advantage of the firm.

The literature on HPWP's complementarities has grown during the last decade. Osterman (2000) finds that over the course of the 1990's firms at least in the US have adopted a rising number of practices. The reason for firms adopting a multiple number of practices is the emergence of complementarity among practices. Two or more practices are complements when "using one more intensely increases the marginal benefits of using the others more intensively" (Holmstrom & Milgrom, 1994:973). For instance firms that have implemented incentive pay plans for the employees may have difficulties


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