A high performance work system is described by Becker and Huselid (1998) as: ‘An internally consistent and coherent HRM system that is focused on solving operational problems and implementing the firm’s competitive strategy’. They suggest that such a system ‘is the key to the acquisition, motivation and development of the underlying intellectual assets that can be a source of sustained competitive advantage’. This is because it:
- links the firm’s selection and promotion decisions to validated competency models;
- develops strategies that provide timely and effective support for the skills demanded by the firm’s strategy implementation;
- enacts compensation and performance management policies that attract, retain and motivate high performance employees.
As described by Appelbaum et al (2000), a HPWS is ‘generally associated with workshop practices that raise the levels of trust within workplaces and increase workers’ intrinsic reward from work, and thereby enhance organizational commitment’.
Nadler and Gerstein (1992) have characterized a HPWS as a way of thinking about organizations. It can play an important role in strategic
human resource management by helping to achieve a ‘fit’ between information, technology, people and work.