پذیرش خدمات سرمایه انسانی توسط شرکت های کوچک و متوسط : انتشار از منظر نوآوری
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|4844||2010||12 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of Business Venturing, Volume 25, Issue 4, July 2010, Pages 349–360
While lack of scale economies have traditionally limited the use of human capital programs among small and medium enterprises (SMEs), outsourcing models have recently emerged to provide cost-effective access to these programs. Drawing on the diffusion of innovation literature, we apply the rational accounts model and institutional theory to examine why SMEs differ in their willingness to use newly available human capital programs. We specifically examine the impact of SME size on the adoption of human capital innovations. Using survey and archival data from over 400 SMEs, we found broad support for the integrated approach we propose.
Human capital programs have been found, within a number of different settings, to positively affect organizational performance (Datta et al., 2005, Youndt et al., 1996, Benson et al., 2006, Cappelli and Neumark, 2001 and Huselid et al., 2005). Within the small business sector, however, human capital programs have traditionally been viewed as cost-prohibitive (Klaas et al., 2005a). Thus, despite the very significant human resource challenges faced by many firms in this sector, use of such programs has been limited (Kerr et al., 2007). Increased attention, however, is being given to outsourcing models designed to make it more cost-effective for SMEs to utilize human capital programs (Cook, 1999, Heneman et al., 2000 and Klaas, 2003). While use of such models is currently sporadic, some SMEs are innovating by relying on outsourced human capital services (Klaas et al., 2005b). Because obtaining human capital programs via outsourcing remains a novelty within the small business sector (Hirschman, 2000; Klaas, 2003), the literature on the diffusion of innovation offers a useful framework for understanding why SMEs differ in their willingness to use these programs. One perspective within this literature, the rational accounts model, emphasizes that the spread of innovation is influenced by adaptive responses by firms to environmental pressures and constraints (Kraatz and Zajac, 1996 and Wejnert, 2002). Consistent with this model, SME willingness to use human capital services may be influenced by firm characteristics or environmental pressures that affect the need to modify employee skill, motivation, and commitment. Another prominent perspective, institutional theory, emphasizes that the willingness to innovate may be affected by the degree to which decision-makers have observed other prominent or visible firms doing the same (Haunschild and Miner, 1997, Williamson and Cable, 2003 and Milkovich and Barringer, 1998). Such contagion processes are thought to occur because innovation adoption often involves substantial risk for the firm and the behavior of other firms can serve to legitimize taking such action. Within the diffusion of innovation literature, there is support for both the rational accounts perspective and institutional theory (Wejnert, 2002). Further, both perspectives have effectively been used to explain the use of human resource practices and policies within large firms (Osterman, 1994 and Batt, 2000). One might expect, therefore, that both perspectives would be relevant in explaining the adoption of innovation in the form of human capital programs by small and medium enterprises. But how does the context of the small and medium enterprise affect how firm leaders react to pressures and demands created by the firm's strategy and environment or to information about prior adoption by other firms? The small and medium enterprise classification includes firms that range from those with a very small number of employees to those with as many as 500. It includes firms where the entire workforce falls within the leader's span of control as well as larger SMEs where there would be a need for hierarchical and coordination mechanisms (Borch et al., 1999). Processes suggested by the diffusion of innovation literature may operate differently in these different types of small and medium enterprises. For leaders of smaller SMEs, pressures created by the firm's strategy or environment may not necessarily be perceived as affecting the need for employee skill and motivation. Instead, these pressures may be perceived as affecting what is needed in terms of the leader's personal behavior and activities. Because the leader within very small firms typically is personally involved in many organizational processes and directly influences employees throughout the firm (Baron et al., 1996), leaders may perceive changes in personal behavior as a sufficient response. However, in larger SMEs, it is less likely that leaders will see personal responses as being sufficient to address pressures and demands created by their environment or strategy (Baron et al., 1999). These pressures and demands may create a need for change in activities and processes far removed from the leader's sphere of activity. As a result, leaders may be more likely to consider changes in organizational processes and systems, including human capital programs (Burton, 2001). Because of these differences between small and large SMEs, SME size is likely to moderate the impact of factors suggested by the rational accounts perspective. The impact of factors suggested by the rational accounts perspective is also likely to depend on factors suggested by institutional theory. As is often the case with innovations in management practice, substantial causal ambiguity exists regarding the process by which human capital innovations affect outcomes (Baron et al., 1999 and Abrahamson and Fairchild, 1999). Because of this, the effect of variables suggested by the rational accounts perspective is likely to depend on whether the innovation has been legitimized through prior adoption by firms salient to the decision-maker. This moderating effect is expected because prior adoption by other firms is likely to mitigate the impact of uncertainty regarding causal processes on innovation adoption. The willingness to invest in human capital within the small business sector has substantial implications both for the individual organization and society at large (Heneman et al., 2000). By examining why this willingness varies across SMEs, we contribute to our understanding of factors that may facilitate or inhibit investment in human capital in the small business sector.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Within the context of the small business sector, human capital programs should appropriately be viewed as an innovation. These programs have not traditionally been used by SMEs and vendors have only recently begun to make such programs available through use of a PEO model (Klaas et al., 2005a and Klaas et al., 2005b). However, as availability has now grown, questions exist about why variation exists across SMEs in their willingness to use human capital programs. We argued here that important differences will be observed across SMEs that vary in terms of size. Consistent with the rational accounts perspective, where SMEs face pressures that demand more responsiveness to the customer or the capacity to quickly adjust work processes, they are more likely to engage in adaptive responses. However, these adaptive responses are likely to vary with the size of the SME. In smaller SMEs, much or all of the SME workforce is likely to fall within the SME leader's immediate span of control and leaders are likely to be personally involved with processes throughout the firm. Such conditions are likely to affect perceptions regarding dependence upon human capital within the firm. Leaders are more likely to see themselves as able to personally respond to pressures for customer responsiveness or the need to change work processes. Further, because much of the firm's workforce falls within the leader's immediate span of control, the leader is more likely to perceive the ability to modify employee behavior through on-going direction and feedback. As such, while adaptive responses to the factors suggested by the rational accounts perspective may be observed in both small and large SMEs, the nature of those responses may vary with firm size. Leaders within larger SMEs may be more acutely aware of their dependence upon human capital and may be more willing to adopt human capital innovations in response to pressures created by the environment or strategy. By contrast, leaders within smaller firms may perceive greater control over processes within their firm. Thus, they are more likely to attempt to respond to pressures created by environment or strategy via personal activity and direct control over work processes. The findings obtained here support the proposition that factors suggested by the rational accounts perspective would affect use of human capital programs at least among larger SMEs. We argued that both strategic emphasis on differentiation and environmental uncertainty would create a greater need for employees who could operate with discretion, who could respond to changing demands, and who were more committed to overall organizational goals. In firms where there is little uncertainty and little emphasis on differentiation, reliance on relatively simple monitoring and control mechanisms may often be effective. And where such mechanisms are effective, there is likely to be less need for reliance on human capital programs. We found that use of human capital programs was higher among SMEs that placed greater emphasis on differentiation and that faced more uncertainty, with this tendency being stronger among larger SMEs. We also found that emphasis on growth was associated with greater use of human capital programs, with this relationship being stronger among larger SMEs. Because of the difficulty of anticipating the effects of expansion, growth is likely to make it difficult to manage a workforce through careful specification of tasks and careful monitoring of employee behavior. Where growth is emphasized, SMEs are likely to face increased pressure to find ways to manage employees that are consistent with increased employee autonomy and that encourage both flexibility and commitment to organizational goals. This pressure is likely to lead to an increased willingness to adopt human capital programs, at least among larger SMEs. As noted in the results section, SME size was found to moderate the impact of factors suggested by the rational accounts perspective. These significant interaction effects are consistent with the idea that leaders within smaller SMEs react to pressures created by strategy or the environment differently than leaders within larger SMEs. Within larger SMEs, dependence on human capital may be readily apparent. However, within smaller SMEs, leaders may perceive themselves as having the capacity to personally ensure responsiveness to customer needs and to personally ensure rapid adjustment to change and uncertainty. Consistent with institutional theory, we suggested that prior exposure to human resource activities would affect adoption of human capital programs. Factors suggested by institutional theory are likely to be relevant because they enhance the perceived legitimacy of human capital programs and reduce the perceived risks associated with innovation adoption. We argued that prior exposure to HR services would be relevant because it would make use of human capital programs from a vendor seem less risky, more legitimate, and more consistent with professional modes of operation. Our findings support what was proposed in that prior exposure to HR services affected use of human capital programs from a vendor. While little research has examined how the rational accounts perspective and institutional theory combine to explain innovation adoption, we proposed that prior exposure to HR services will moderate the impact of variables suggested by the rational accounts perspective. Overall, support was found for this proposition. This support suggests that the effect of pressures within or external to the firm to adopt an innovation depends in part on whether that innovation was legitimized by the behavior of other salient firms. Where there is causal ambiguity regarding how the innovation affects outcomes, there is likely to be uncertainty regarding the utility of innovation adoption. Where the behavior of other firms helps to legitimize the innovation, it is likely to affect the perceived risk of innovation adoption and, in turn, the expected outcomes (Wejnert, 2002). Thus, factors suggested by the rational accounts perspective are more likely to affect innovation adoption where firms salient to the decision-maker have already made use of the innovation. The findings obtained here raise important questions with regard to the use of human capital programs within the small business sector. Consistent with the rational accounts perspective, it appears that—at least among larger SMEs—leaders respond to pressures and challenges created by their strategy and environment in a manner similar to how large, complex firms respond (Batt, 2000). Greater willingness to use human capital programs is observed when pressures and challenges increase the need for a workforce that is flexible, highly skilled, and able to operate with discretion. However, it also appears that among smaller SMEs, the use of human capital programs is less affected by pressures and challenges created by the firm's strategy or environment. Presumably, this is because leaders of these firms respond to pressures and challenges through personal initiative and efforts to direct employee behavior in an on-going and often ad-hoc manner. It is unclear, however, whether this is an efficient response to these pressures and challenges. Questions might be raised about whether responding with personal initiative and action creates undue dependence on the SME leader. Additionally, questions might be raised about whether such an approach affects the degree to which talents of employees are effectively utilized as well as the firm's capacity to attract employees that would function effectively in an environment demanding flexibility, skill, and the capacity to operate with autonomy. In turn, further questions are raised about whether such an approach affects the firm's capacity to expand and grow. The impact associated with prior exposure to HR services also raises important issues for firms in the small business sector. Within this sector, adopting innovation in the form of human capital programs is likely to be perceived as involving some risk. Leaders may be less willing to adopt human capital programs unless doing so has been legitimized by information possessed by the SME leader about the use of human resource services by other firms. This suggests that they may be situations where SMEs will be reluctant to make use of human capital programs even though they face conditions that call for the use of such programs. This conclusion is further supported by the moderating effect associated with prior exposure to HR services. Where there is no prior exposure to HR services, the effect of factors suggested by the rational accounts literature is more modest. This finding suggests that there may well be SMEs with significant need for human capital programs that will be reluctant to use these programs simply because of the leader's background and experience. We believe that our findings have implications both for our understanding of the diffusion of innovations in managerial practice and also for our understanding of the use of human resource practices within the small business sector. With regard to our understanding of the diffusion of innovation, our findings highlight the importance of integrating the rational accounts perspective and institutional theory. Within settings where there is substantial causal ambiguity, it appears that whether firms' response to pressures and challenges is likely to affect the need for innovation adoption will partly depend on whether the behavior of firms salient to the decision-maker legitimizes the adoption of innovation. With regard to our understanding of why small businesses vary in their willingness to utilize human capital programs, it should be noted that because human capital programs are often cost-prohibitive for SMEs, outsourcing models are increasingly being used to make it easier to obtain such services. While extensive use of human capital services is observed among a number of SMEs, use of such services remains relatively novel. Our findings suggest that—at least among larger SMEs—use of services tends to be greater among firms that might be expected to have the greatest need for those services (Ordiz-Fuertes and Fernandez-Sanchez, 2003). However, our findings also suggest that barriers may exist that limit use of services among firms that otherwise would be predicted to make use of human capital services. Our finding suggests that there may well be SMEs with significant need for human capital programs that will be reluctant to use these programs simply because they have not been exposed to other firms taking similar action. Our findings also suggest that small SMEs do not respond to pressure and challenges in the same way as larger SMEs. While this pattern may sometimes be an efficient response to firm conditions, it may also reflect biases created by the ability of the leader within such SMEs to be intensely involved in processes and operations throughout the workforce. In interpreting the results of this study, it is important to consider the limitations associated with the design and methodology used here. First, the results are based on a sample of SMEs who are clients of the same PEO. As such, all SMEs studied here have been exposed to the same business model and service delivery mechanisms, potentially affecting the generalizability of the results. Second, all of the firms studied here have an established relationship with a third-party vendor. While in many cases that established relationship was limited to transactional services, it remains possible that the firms studied here have more experience interacting with third-party vendors than other firms within the small business sector. Thus, the results obtained here may not necessarily generalize to firms that are not currently working with a vendor to obtain either transactional or human capital services. Firms that do not currently work with a third-party vendor may perceive greater risks associated with obtaining human capital services from a PEO. Where such risks are perceived, the effect of variables suggested by institutional theory may actually be greater than what was observed here because they would serve to mitigate perceived risk. Third, a cross-sectional design was employed, which may limit our ability to draw causal inferences. For example, while we argue that a focus on differentiation leads to the use of human capital services, it is possible that use of human capital services enabled firms to adopt a focus on differentiation. While the possibility of reverse causation should be recognized, we should also point out that the risks of this are lower in this setting because the human capital practices have been available for a short period of time. Fourth, while data was obtained from different sources, we relied heavily on the SME leader as a key informant. As such, the dependent measure and key independent variables were obtained from the same source, raising questions about whether our results were affected by percept–percept bias. However, it should be noted that the validity of the ratings provided by the SME leaders is supported by the level of agreement with a sub-sample of the human resource consultants and by the results of the common method variance tests we performed. Finally, measurement issues deserve attention as well. For example, we used exposure to HR programs in prior positions in other firms to capture information available to the SME leader about the behavior of the firms. While past employers are likely to be highly salient to the SME leader, it is important to note that we did not specifically capture the behavior of other SMEs in terms of the use of human capital programs.