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doi: 10.1111/j.1748-8583.2010.00151.

x

Trust as moderator in the relationship between
HRM practices and employee attitudes
Laura Innocenti, LUISS Business School
Massimo Pilati, Modena and Reggio Emilia University
Alessandro M. Peluso, LUISS University, Rome
Human Resource Management Journal, Vol 21, no 3, 2011, pages 303–317

The study contributes to the debate in the HRM literature by examining the role of trust in management
in moderating the effect of HRM practices on employee attitudes. The novelty of the study lies in our
interest in assessing this relationship not only on a system of HR practices, but also considering whether
the influence varies according to specific ‘bundles’ of practices. Adopting a Structural Equation
Modelling approach, we first test the moderation using an HRM index of seven practices on a sample
of 9,000 employees from 46 Italian organisations. Then, following the AMO approach, we assess the
relationship on three ‘bundles’ of practices, one oriented to increasing ability, another motivation and the
third opportunity to participate. Results confirm the moderation with the overall HRM index.
Interestingly, the effect varies depending on the HR bundles, being significant only with the motivation
practices and not relevant in the other two bundles.
Contact: Dr Laura Innocenti, LUISS Business School, Viale Pola, 12, 00198 – Rome, Italy. Email:
linnocenti@luiss.it
hrmj_151

303..317

INTRODUCTION

I

nterest in Human Resource Management (HRM) practices and their effectiveness in
improving both employees’ attitudes and behaviours and organisational performance has
steadily grown in recent decades. Changes in the economic scenarios and the subsequent
impact on the labour market and on organisational strategies have increased the focus on this
issue. HRM practices, in fact, represent strong investments made by companies to boost their
competitiveness and promote employees’ engagement. Human capital, like any other capital,
should thus be measured in terms of return on investment, and all organisations have a vested
interest in understanding how effective the time and money they spend on people management
activities really is. Therefore, over the last decade, researchers have started to explore the
relationship between HRM practices and individual and organisational performance indicators,
with particular emphasis on the so-called ‘black box’, or intermediate set of factors that might
contribute to explaining the existence of a link between the adoption by companies of
sophisticated HRM systems and better organisational and individual outcomes. Research
conducted so far has confirmed the existence of this relationship, although there are still many
grey areas and much remains unclear about the mechanisms that might facilitate this
relationship.
Among the possible intervening factors authors have acknowledged the enhancement of
abilities, motivation and opportunity to participate, according to what is commonly defined as
the AMO approach (Becker and Huselid, 1998; Boxall and Purcell, 2003, 2008; Boselie et al.,
2005). Others have recognised the relevance of the psychological contract or trust (Guest, 1999;
Appelbaum et al., 2000). Our intention with this study is to continue in this direction, combining
two of the above-mentioned perspectives. In fact, we are interested in analysing the effect of

HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT JOURNAL, VOL 21 NO 3, 2011

303

© 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Please cite this article in press as: Innocenti, L., Pilati, M. and Peluso, A.M. (2011) ‘Trust as moderator in the relationship between HRM practices
and employee attitudes’. Human Resource Management Journal 21: 3, 303–317.

discretionary behaviour. researchers have commonly focused on the overall HRM system rather than on individual practices. 1995. According to Purcell and his colleagues (Purcell et al. and our effort goes precisely in this direction. Following theses calls. 2000. 1997. 2008) is therefore considered as one of the key issues requiring further attention in the field of HRM. The degree of trust an employee has in his superiors has been shown to affect a number of work outcomes. Boxall and Purcell. 2000. Ramsay et al. . allowing HRM practices to increase or reduce individual attitudes. A sizeable body of research has so far examined the impact of HRM practices on various aspects of organisational performance. but also the ‘how’.. while others have privileged the analysis of employee attitudes and behaviours at work (Appelbaum et al. According to the literature..Trust in HRM practices and employee attitudes trust in management as moderator between the HRM practices and employees’ attitudes and behaviours. Wright and Gardner. 2001. assuming that trust in management can successfully moderate this relationship. Specifically. namely on the relationship between HRM practices and employee outcomes. Bowen and Ostroff. 2008. Guest. following the AMO approach.. Pilati and Innocenti. Furthermore. 1999. 2000. Godard. Wall and Wood. Guest et al. Thus. 2001. Ferris et al. 2001).. 2002. Ferrin and Dirks. Ostroff and Bowen. Ramsay et al. When looking at the employee and organisational outcomes of HRM practices.. confirm the existence of a link between the use of HRM practices and various aspects of organisational and individual outcomes (Paauwe. VOL 21 NO 3. Research so far has privileged the analysis of mediating variables. such as work experiences (Innocenti and Pilati. we consider the role of three distinct ‘bundles’ of practices.. Godard. 1999. we focus our analysis on the closer link of the HRM-performance models. 1998. 2008). 2004. 2004. Wright and Boswell. the path linking HRM practices and performance can be envisaged as a ‘causal chain’ that moves from practices in their different stages – from intended to experienced – to individual outcomes. Our interest is to see whether the influence of trust in management differs for practices grouped according to this approach. there is a need to develop the causal chain further in order to better understand not only the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of the impact of HRM. 2003. Peccei and Innocenti. the focus of attention shifted to the understanding of the factors that may intervene in the relationship between HRM practices and the various outcomes of interest. Boselie et al.. satisfaction and organisational commitment (Kramer and Tyler. even though not always consistent.. Ichnioswski et al. (b) are motivated to apply their skill and knowledge and (c) when the organisation’s conditions allow them to contribute suggestions or provide input (MacDuffie. Guest. 2009). 2000. HRM practices are likely to influence positively individual and organisational performance when: (a) employees possess knowledge and skills to perform the task required. This 304 HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT JOURNAL. 2011 © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. our interest is in examining the underlying mechanisms explaining how HRM practices relate to the development of positive attitudes at work. organisational climate (Ostroff and Bowen. 1997. which represents the more distant link of the chain (Huselid.. Less developed is the stream of research that analyses possible moderation effects. 2002). The so-called ‘black box’ problem (Becker and Gerhart. 2005). 2000. 1996. Over the past decade or so this has led to repeated calls for more theory and research on the intervening mechanisms that may contribute to HRM practices having the impact that they do on organisational outcomes (Delery. 2003) and it could therefore increase the effectiveness of HRM practices. 2009). 2009). 2008) or other employee related attitudes (Ramsay et al. THEORETICAL BACKGROUND AND HYPOTHESES According to recent theoretical contributions (Purcell et al.. Dirks and Ferrin. Findings. such as individual work performance. 2005). 1995). 2000. in the form of attitudes and behaviours and then to organisational results.

in fact. respectively. 305 . practices may have divergent results. to enhance their positive attitude towards the company. MacDuffie. in fact. through their impact on employee trust and intrinsic motivation. plays an important role in the relationship between HRM practices and employee attitudes and behaviour and it has been the subject of considerable discussion in the HRM literature. 1960. psychologists tend to consider it as an attribute of individuals. Our choice of bundles of practices is consistent with the AMO approach. 2001). (2000). 2002.. Conversely. Peluso is because employees are typically exposed to a range of HRM practices simultaneously (Becker and Huselid. then provide them with some form of motivation to persuade them to apply their skills. such as satisfaction and commitment. which affirms that for practices to be effective on organisational performance they should firstly increase employee skills and ability. nullify their influence. Trust. We. Implicit in the notion of a bundle. according to previous studies. is the concept that. 1998. 1999). Moreover. Blau. As Lewis and Weigert (1985: 971) point out: ‘when we see others acting in ways that imply that they trust us. 2000). they may feel more exposed and vulnerable and less disposed to let initiatives implemented by the organisation. Guthrie. Wright and Boswell. However. confirming a mediating role. Arthur and Boyles. while sociologists favour its properties of network relations (Appelbaum et al. To this end. and create opportunities to do so (Hutchinson and Purcell. have suggested that the set of HRM practices associated with High Performance Work Systems has a positive effect on key employee attitudes. which includes the expectation that acts perceived as distrustful by employees will only go towards jeopardising their positive attitude towards the organisation. Trust is a multidisciplinary concept and it has been explained in various ways according to different perspectives. Appelbaum et al. As already mentioned. VOL 21 NO 3. ‘more is better’ because multiple practices will give overlapping and mutually reinforcing effects. 2003). in fact. This establishes that investments in terms of opportunities offered by the organisation aimed at improving skills and knowledge will be reciprocated by employees in terms of positive attitudes and behaviours. we become more disposed to reciprocate by trusting in them more. we consider employees’ attitudes towards the HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT JOURNAL. The link between HRM practices and employee attitudes has its grounds in social exchange theory (Gouldner. ‘bundles’ of interrelated and internally consistent HR practices are the appropriate unit of analysis because they create reinforcing conditions to support employees motivation and skill acquisition (Huselid. But the norm of reciprocity has a negative side as well. so that they. Thus. which is precisely the definition we adopted in our study. Delery. More precisely. identified three different bundles. as far as the impact on outcomes is concerned. We therefore expect trust in management to moderate the relationship between HRM practices and employee attitudes. such as HRM practices. we believe that the influence of trust in management varies across HRM practices according to their scope. for example. we first focused our analysis on the combined effect of a set of seven HRM practices as a whole. 1998. To evaluate this composite influence. Motivation and Opportunity to participate. 1995. the perception or belief by employees that their employers will act upon their words is widely recognised as a definition of trust. reflecting Ability. While economists support the view of trust as the result of rational calculation of costs and benefits. Although scholars have used different descriptions of trust (Kramer and Tyler. when employees perceive they cannot rely upon the behaviour of management. we come to distrust those whose actions appear to violate our trust or to distrust us’. 1964). we focused our analysis on trust in management as moderator. 1995. Moreover. 2007).Laura Innocenti. 2011 © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Massimo Pilati and Alessandro M. it may be useful to address the analysis to specific groups of practices to better understand whether the results of the overall index are consistent across these groups.

and opportunity to participate. The size of a company plays a significant part in employer–employee relationships. involving a total of 12. rather than opportunities for training and development or improvement in working conditions In conclusion. In small companies. as this can distort the statistical analysis. 2003).166 complete questionnaires. In order to cover a wide range of situations.000 employees. the human 306 HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT JOURNAL. In fact. in this research we sought to achieve the following goals: 1. These seven HRM practices are supposed to have three different dimensions regarding employee ability. the sample included 18 companies with 100–500 employees. to test whether this relationship is moderated by employees’ trust in management. since it often has a major effect on numerous aspects of working conditions.Trust in HRM practices and employee attitudes FIGURE 1 Conceptual model Human Resource Management Practices Ability Employee Attitude towards the Organisation Motivation Opportunity Trust organisation to be enhanced by the influence of trust in management mainly in the relationship with HRM practices focused on enhancing employee motivation. 2011 © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. and finally 3. METHODOLOGY The study was based on data made available to us by the Great Place to Work® Institute in Italy and covered 46 companies. to examine this moderating role for trust with respect to specific bundles of HRM practices. Particular attention was given to identifying missing data. VOL 21 NO 3. and the final sample consisted of 9. 16 larger ones with 500–1.614 employees. Therefore. . 2. based on the above arguments and evidence.000–5.000 employees and another 12 with 1. we expect the degree of reliability of managers’ behaviour to have a greater influence when rewards and information are involved (Ferrin and Dirks. our model hypothesises that individual employee attitudes towards the organisation (EAO) are a positive function of seven key HRM practices. 1). motivation. It also hypothesises that trust in management moderates the relationships between the constructs (Fig. to verify whether implementing some key human resource management practices is a way to increase employees’ attitudes towards their organisations. both multinationals and domestic.

Peluso resources management is generally quite informal and rarely supported by structured procedures or policies. focused on practices to enhance workers’ skills and provide them with incentives to participate in decision making. Two separate and complementary sources of information were used. as it can have a significant influence on working processes. 2005. the reduction of status differences and extensive information sharing. This approach. on the other hand. VARIABLES AND MEASURES Variables considered in the model are described as follows and specified in more details in the Appendix. The seven HRM practices were measured using dichotomous indicators [1 = the practice has been implemented. the practices has not been implemented yet)]. Pfeffer’s (1998) model identified seven practices that he felt characterised most if not all systems designed to increase profits through people: employment security. motivation and empowerment (Bowen and Ostroff. VOL 21 NO 3. The first questionnaire. Operating sector is also important. etc. security of employment. the sample was chosen to be as varied as possible. Consistently. 2011 © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. 2004). 307 . highly developed personnel systems (Forth et al. et al. 2006. 2007). Self-reported methods are extensively adopted in HRM studies and their use has been proven not to affect the validity of the findings (Crampton and Wagner.. whereas larger companies usually find it necessary to introduce complex. team self-management. involving a number of HR managers. Although there is no general consensus as to which practices constitute a coherent system of HRM (Boselie et al. Therefore. 2006). They comprised autonomy in decision making. focused on information concerning the HRM practices in place in the different organisations. the HR managers responsible for the different HR processes of interest for our analyses (job evaluation. Appelbaum et al. comparatively high bonuses for good company performance. for the HR Department. distribution. selectivity in hiring new staff. extensive training. the use of two separate sources of information for the independent and dependent variables contributed to reducing the risks from common method bias (Podsakoff. good communications. Massimo Pilati and Alessandro M. 1994). industry. training. performance management and rewarding and compensation tend to be extensively included. working in self-managed teams. was adopted in order to enhance the validity and the precision of the measures used to assess the effect of HRM practices on employees. Kersley et al. Arthur and Boyles. both formal and informal. addressing the employees. marketing and consultancy. while other practices more related to work and job design seem to be less analysed (Purcell and Kinnie. 2007.. 0 = otherwise (i. The second. including companies engaged in production. as well as on other structural information such as size. HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT JOURNAL.’s High Performance Work System (2000). and level of unionism. previous studies and research are somewhat consistent in the HRM practices analysed. 2003). training. training and development. 2007. considered their perceptions of trust in management and their attitudes at work. 2002). According to the literature.Laura Innocenti. information sharing. Purcell and Kinnie. good promotion opportunities and work-life balance support. Wright and Boswell. Our choice of practices included a selection among those most frequently adopted in a large number of HRM studies and widely recognised as key factors for enhancing employee skills. Moreover. rewards and recognitions.e.. During the research. practices associated with recruitment and selection. Independent variables HRM practices..) were also interviewed by telephone in order to obtain further details on the information provided through the questionnaire. off-line team participation.

with 72. This was done by fixing the loading coefficient that relates the observed variable to the construct equal to 1 (l = 1) and the measurement error variance to zero (d = 0).63). ‘Managers here can be relied upon to keep to their promises’ or ‘Managers deal with employees honestly’. Guest. scores obtained on trust items were averaged to yield a synthetic indicator of the construct (mean = 3. Moderating variable TRUST. . inter-item correlations ⱖ 0. These items have proved to be very close in meaning to those adopted by other validated scale. item-total correlation coefficients ⱖ 0. such as WERS. Brief. which suggest 308 HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT JOURNAL. For example. We measured trust on a three-item scale. All employee-related measures adopted five-point Likert-type scales and required the respondent to indicate the extent to which he/she considered each item to be true by using a response scale ranging from ‘Almost always untrue’ to ‘Almost always true’. A HRM practices Index (xHR) was specified as the number of these practices actually implemented within each organisation. A preliminary reliability analysis showed these items to be unidimensional (factor loadings ⱖ 0.Trust in HRM practices and employee attitudes Dependent variable EAO.89.94.1 PATH ANALYSIS: THE IMPACT OF HRM PRACTICES ON EAO A structural equation model was built following conventional procedures and notation (cf.00).6 per cent of total variance explained) and internally consistent (Cronbach’s a = 0. 1989). These items have strong similarity with those included in traditional validated scales. which included items concerning the level of trust in management by employees (‘Management delivers on its promises’. I feel a sense of pride’. Appelbaum et al. Meyer and Allen’s (1997) scale presents the following items: ‘I enjoy discussing my organisation with people outside it’ and ‘This organisation has a great deal of personal meaning for me’. The latent construct x (Human Resource Management Practices) was measured through the indicator xHR.e. The model addresses attitudes previously analysed in several studies and considered critical for both individuals and organisations (Huselid.79. 2011 © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. ‘When I look at what we accomplish. Operationally. 2003). Steenkamp et al. 2002. SD = 0. As trust was hypothesised to play a moderating role in the conceptual model. 2).. EAO was the dependent variable of the model. 1997.g. Appelbaum et al. median = 4.74).70. Singh and Rhoads 1991.. ‘Management actions match its words’. xHR was computed as the sum of the corresponding seven dichotomous variables associated with the examined practices (i. xHR = Sxi. Trust in management was conceptualised as a potential moderating variable that affects structural links in the model. see Appendix). with 56 per cent of total variance explained) and internally consistent (Cronbach’s a = 0. item-total correlations ⱖ 0. 1998. 2000). and ‘Management is honest and ethical’). In the same way.49. Bollen. The reliability analysis showed that these items were unidimensional (factor loadings ⱖ 0. (2000) in their measure of Commitment included the following items: ‘I’m proud to be working for this company’ and ‘I am willing to work harder than I have to in order to help this company succeed’. which was treated as observed variable and assumed to directly measure the associated latent construct without error. VOL 21 NO 3. The choice to use xHR as a summated scale to measure x was based on past studies (e.73. inter-item correlations ⱖ 0. and ‘My work has special meaning: this is not “just a job” ’. 1995. and using the maximum likelihood estimation method (Fig.83. Bandalos. The variable covers both items referring to work satisfaction and organisational commitment such as ‘I am proud to tell others that I work for this company’.68.

90.000. First. confirms that the three items used to assess trust were internally consistent and represent a reliable measure of the construct. 2011 © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.000.001. NFI = 1. We then averaged their scores to obtain a composite indicator of trust (M = 3. showing li standardised coefficients ranging from 0.367.01). This finding suggested that an improvement in the model might still be possible by removing specific constraints from the model based on modification indices greater than 4.468. c2/d.000. Massimo Pilati and Alessandro M.73.57 (Fornell and Larcker. CFI = 1.984. adopting such an item-parceling procedure as a way to obtain more parsimonious and precise structural estimates. NFI = 1.243. = 1. 309 .001]. Peluso FIGURE 2 The basic structural model xHR Human Resource Management Practices (ξ) Employee Attitude towards the Organisation (η) ζ y1 δ1 y2 δ2 y3 δ3 y4 δ4 Note: n = 9.05. A multi-group analysis was then conducted by comparing the HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT JOURNAL. Results showed an excellent fit for the model [c2(1) = 0.000]. AGFI = 0. p > 0.367. Results showed the following fit statistics: Goodness of Fit Index (GFI) = 0.998. illustrated above. c2/d.000.84. Bentler-Bonnet Normed Fit Index (NFI) = 0. AGFI = 1.f. CFI = 1.f. GFI = 1. The c2 difference test confirmed that the modified model performed better that the basic one [Dc2(4) = 127.096.000.000.995. 1981). GFI = 1. A median split was performed based upon trust scores to obtain two sub-samples of subjects with a low (low-trust sample size: nLT = 4.13. c2/d. We then allowed specific measurement error terms to correlate based on theoretical reasoning.007. p > 0. respectively. RMSEA = 0. = 0. p > 0. RMSEA = 0. RMSEA = 0. GFI = 1. c2/d. we estimated the model on each on the two sub-groups separately. = 25. p < 0.000.f.991. construct reliability (CR) = 0. A modified version of the model with correlational links among di terms was therefore estimated. Standardised structural estimates revealed a significant effect of the Human Resource Management Practices construct (x) on EAO (h) (b = 0.05.000.f.415) versus a high level of trust (high-trust sample size: nHT = 4. ratio was too high c2(5) = 127.94).243. The observed variables yi were substantially associated with the latent construct EAO. Adjusted Goodness of Fit Index (AGFI) = 0. p < 0.998.000.f.000].052. NFI = 1. in order to verify whether the model reaches an acceptable fit for each group [Low-Trust Model: c2(1) = 1.05. VOL 21 NO 3.69 to 0. while the c2/d.000. = 0.991. SD = 0. Root Mean Squared Error of Approximation (RMSEA) = 0.096.751). High-Trust Model: c2(1) = 0. CFI = 1. AGFI = 0. MULTI-GROUP ANALYSIS A multi-group analysis was carried out to verify whether trust moderates the relationship between x and h.338.242. Comparative Fit Index (CFI) = 0.Laura Innocenti. and average variance extracted (AVE) = 0. p < 0. Preliminary analysis.166.

79 0. This finding supports the hypothesis of a moderating role for trust in the model. The second bundle included both economic rewards and non-economic form of recognition that are undoubtedly linked to employee motivation.000].02.999.85 0. c2/d. AGFI = 0.000. F2 and F3 can be renamed as Ability. however. bHighTRUST = 0.31% n = 9.13 0.05.000.04 0. Finally.72 0.80 0. and Opportunity. Factor loadings confirmed that. Test of equality of parameters: t = 2.996.66% -0. PATH ANALYSIS: THE IMPACT OF HRM BUNDLES ON EAO To add clarity to our findings.05 0. where this parameter was allowed to change across the two sub-groups. CFI = 1. p < 0. respectively). RMSEA = 0.604. training and information sharing that are widely acknowledged as increasing employees’ skills and ability to perform.01]. where the structural parameter associated with the link from x to h was not allowed to vary across the two sub-groups of subjects. = 3.802. c2/d. p > 0. F1. Motivation. Motivation. x2.03% 0. associated with the relationship between x and h.05).Trust in HRM practices and employee attitudes two groups associated with different levels of trust. We used the factorial scores obtained for the three dimensions extracted as observed variables in the subsequent structural equation model. respectively.09.07 0.999.016.166. GFI = 1. the c2 difference test confirmed that the unconstrained model performs significantly better than the constrained one [Dc2(1) = 8. The structural parameter b.03. We compared a constrained model. the third factor included practices such as job design and employee survey that are both ways to provide employees with opportunities to influence and take part in the work design. Results show that both models fit real data very well [Constrained Model: c2(3) = 9. p < 0.36 20.11 18.05.09 0. each of them measured by a TABLE 1 Loadings from the categorical principal component analysis Variable Job evaluation Information sharing Training Non monetary recognition Economic rewards Employee survey Job design Eigenvalue Variance explained Component F1 (Ability) F2 (Motivation) F3 (Opportunity) 0. NFI = 0.01 25. and x3. Unconstrained Model: c2(2) = 1. The analysis yielded a factorial solution composed of three components jointly capable of explaining 64 per cent of the overall variance (Table 1). = 0. The first bundle included practices related to job evaluation. p < 0.08 0.999. 310 HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT JOURNAL.08 -0. . consistent with the AMO approach. p = 0.75 1. VOL 21 NO 3. NFI = 1. and Opportunity were specified in the model as exogenous variables (x1. The three HRM practice components of Ability.08 0. GFI = 1. RMSEA = 0. p < 0.80 0.969.23 0. against an unconstrained one. significantly changes intensity across the two sub-groups of subjects (bLowTRUST = 0.14 0.07 -0. A categorical principal component analysis was carried out on the seven dichotomous variables to assess their dimensionality. AGFI = 0.323.f. the same analysis was conducted replacing the overall index of HRM practices with specific bundles.01 1.77 0.95.000.001.17 0.000.365. CFI = 0.18 2. 2011 © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.f.

027. CFI = 0. p < 0. Steenkamp et al. AGFI = 0.351.415) versus a high level of trust (high-trust sample size: nHT = 4. AGFI = 0. AGFI = 0.992.f. c2/d. 2002.535.991..020].001. effect on EAO (b = -0. We compared a constrained model.f.992. CFI = 0. NFI = 0. p < 0. single observed variable containing the factorial scores obtained on the corresponding component (Fig.021.751).806.001. A multi-group analysis was then conducted by comparing the two groups associated with different levels of trust.995. but the c2 difference test confirmed that the HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT JOURNAL.897.Laura Innocenti.998. 2003). in order to verify whether the model has acceptable fit for each group [Low-Trust Model: c2(8) = 34.f. c2/d. Factorial scores were then treated as observed variables. c2/d. = 4.996. AGFI = 0. RMSEA = 0. c2/d.997.06. Singh and Rhoads. p < 0. we estimated the model on each of the two sub-groups separately.f. Massimo Pilati and Alessandro M. We specified ‘Employee Attitude towards the Organisation’ as the endogenous variable (h). = 4. High-Trust Model: c2(8) = 42. with p < 0.997.298.001. GFI = 0.998. NFI = 0. respectively. p < 0.11 and 0.f. 311 . MULTI-GROUP ANALYSIS A multi-group analysis was carried out to verify whether trust moderates the causal relationships in the model.988. GFI = 0.990.01). Unconstrained Model: c2(16) = 76.993.993. see Table 2). Ability and Motivation were found to exert a positive impact on EAO (b coefficients = 0.287. = 5. RMSEA = 0. while Opportunity exerted a negative.997. which were assumed to measure the associated latent construct without error.599. Results show that both models fit real data acceptably [Constrained Model: c2(19) = 94.166.988. Peluso FIGURE 3 The structural model F1 F2 F3 y1 δ1 y2 δ2 y3 δ3 y4 δ4 Ability (ξ1) Motivation (ξ 2) Employee Attitude towards the Organisation (η) Opportunity (ξ3) ζ Note: n = 9. albeit weak. VOL 21 NO 3. where all structural parameters were allowed to change across the two sub-groups. More specifically.994. RMSEA = 0.01. 3). The model reached an acceptable fit [c2(10) = 55. c2/d.974. First. RMSEA = 0. which was treated as a latent construct measured by the four items reported in the Appendix. RMSEA = 0. A median split was performed based upon trust scores to obtain two sub-samples of subjects with a low (low-trust sample size: nLT = 4. p < 0.998. NFI = 0.001. CFI = 0. NFI = 0.991.325.991. respectively. CFI = 0.999.001.022] and standardised structural estimates revealed significant effects of the three HRM practice components on EAO. where structural parameters were not allowed to vary across the two sub-groups of subjects. = 5.030]. CFI = 0. p < 0.14. NFI = 0. 2011 © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. AGFI = 0. against an unconstrained one. 1991. GFI = 0.991. = 4. GFI = 0. Bandalos. This was done by fixing the loading coefficient that relates the observed variable to the latent construct equal to 1 (li = 1) and the measurement error variance equal to zero (di = 0) (cf. GFI = 0.

00NA 1.11* 0. Adjusted Goodness of Fit Index.00 1. root mean square error of approximation. Estimates and fit statistics are summarised in Fig.996. such as the level of trust in management.00NA Ability (x1) F1 ← Ability (x1) Motivation (x2) F2 ← Motivation (x2) Opportunity (x3) F3 ← Opportunity (x3) EAO (h1) y1 ←EAO (h) y2 ← EAO (h) y3 ←EAO (h) y4 ←EAO (h) 1.001. 312 HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT JOURNAL.995. our study reinforces the optimistic view of the role of HRM practices that affirms that ‘progressive’ HRM practices.166. unconstrained model performs significantly better than the constrained one [Dc2(3) = 18. Comparative Fit Index. may influence this relationship.89* Structural path R2 Standardised coefficient (b) EAO (h) ← Ability (x1) EAO (h) ← Motivation (x2) EAO (h) ← Opportunity (x3) 0. EAO. CR.80* 0.00 1. employee attitudes towards the organisation. 1998.997.00NA 0. 2004) highlighting a strong relationship between the two variables. Our results confirm also the need to investigate the relationship between HRM practices and employee outcomes under particular circumstances as they highlight the fact that particular individual conditions. For clarity reasons. NA = not applicable (fixed parameter). We computed a difference test on structural parameters by showing that when trust is high the path from Motivation (x2) to EAO (h) is significantly stronger than when trust is low (t = 3. p < 0. 4.001].022. . AVE. NFI = 0. Bentler-Bonnet Normed Fit Index. p < 0. 2011 © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Godard.04 0. c2(10) = 55. CFI. have a beneficial effect on employees’ related outcomes (Pfeffer.00 1. GFI = 0. = 5. Goodness of Fit Index. c2/d. * p < 0.351.077.0. This finding supports the hypothesis of a moderating role for trust in the model. First.05). CFI = 0.85 0.998. RMSEA.Trust in HRM practices and employee attitudes TABLE 2 Standardised estimates Measurement path R2 Standardised coefficient (l) 1. RMSEA = 0. taken as a whole. NFI.51 0. this figure reports only structural parameters across the two sub-groups as they are the study’s focus. average variance extracted.38 0. AGFI = 0. VOL 21 NO 3.535.14* -0. p < 0. CONCLUSIONS The results of the study confirm the importance of investigating the intermediate set of factors that may contribute to explaining the ‘how’ of the links between HRM practices and organisational and individual performance. 2004.62NA 0.f.79 0.64 0.58 Note: n = 9. Peccei.72* 0.06* CR AVE 0. AGFI. construct reliability. GFI.01.

2011 © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Atkinson and Butcher. AGFI = 0.993. Several cases that have introduced a differentiation have done so according to work positions. following the suggestions of Lepak and Snell (1999).001. Massimo Pilati and Alessandro M.07** .01. GFI = 0. and that these conditions can modify the impact of HRM practices on employee positive attitudes towards the organisation. to be consistent in their actions and decisions (Creed and Miles.15*** Employee Attitude towards the Organisation (η) -.806. NFI = 0. Specifically. p < 0.f.05.020.03* Note: * p < 0. This clearly has serious ramifications for the way in which they relate to their staff.Laura Innocenti. but of specific bundles of practices. we have also highlighted the importance of investing in not only the role of HRM practices as a system. 1998. 1997. Any behaviour that runs counter to perceptions of support.991. Our results. This confirms the role of managers in establishing relations that might call for trust (Fukuyama. VOL 21 NO 3. From our distinctive approach. 313 .998.04* Employee Attitude towards the Organisation (η) -.04** . Multi-group fit statistics: χ2(16) = 76.992. as HRM research so far has mainly considered the impact of HRM practices in general.897. Chan. We consider this to be an important contribution made by our study. ** p < 0. equity and integration may compromise the effects of this ‘positive chain of influence’ and reduce or nullify the impact HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT JOURNAL. 1995. CFI = 0. 1995. 2003). 1996). χ2/d. while this is lower in the relationship between practices oriented towards developing employees ability or opportunity for participation. = 4. in fact.05* High-Trust Sub-Group of Subjects (nHT = 4751) Ability (ξ1) Motivation (ξ2) Opportunity (ξ3) . Govier.001. Furthermore. Hosmer. Peluso FIGURE 4 Multi-group standardised structural estimates Low-Trust Sub-Group of Subjects (nLT = 4415) Ability (ξ1) Motivation (ξ2) Opportunity (ξ3) . as they are required first. the level of managers’ accountability improves significantly the effectiveness of motivational practices in promoting positive attitudes towards the organisations. results indicate that people differ in their reaction to HRM according to individual conditions. *** p < 0. RMSEA = 0. demonstrate that the influence of trust in management varies according to the different scope of the practices. in a ‘walk the talk’ approach.

Why High Performance Work Systems Pay off. B. All the survey items are copyrighted by Great Place to Work® and may not be used without permission. 2011 © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. The absence of standard validated scales of trust in management and employee attitudes might appear to be another limitation of the study. as presented in the methodology section. 9: 1. but also in reinforcing their positive impact on employees.. 39: 4. 17: 1. and Boyles. J. Our decision to adopt the GPTW questionnaire was due to the fact that the agreement with this Institute represented an excellent opportunity for gaining access to a significant number of organisations in Italy. 2003) showing that increase in front-line management attention to their workforce is likely to enhance employee satisfaction. influence organisational performance. the items adopted differ only in the form but not in the content from the traditional validated measures. An initial consideration regards the nature of the sample. Manufacturing Advantage. and Gerhart. T. Berg. and Kalleberg. Bailey. Purcell et al. 77–92. ‘The effects of item parceling on goodness-of-fit and parameter estimate bias in structural equation modeling’. (2003).B. Future studies applying our model on more heterogeneous samples could be carried out in order to confirm our findings. a country where organisations are frequently reluctant to be involved in research for academic purposes. ‘Trust in the context of management relationships: an empirical study’. (2000). VOL 21 NO 3. Academy of Management Journal. Furthermore. ‘The impact of human resource management on organisational performance: progress and prospects’. (2002). thereby highlighting the key role played by managers not only in effectively implementing the organisation HRM policies and practices. S. D. B. LIMITATIONS AND FUTURE RESEARCH The results of this study should be considered in the light of some limitations. . ‘Validating the human resource system structure: a levels-based strategic HRM approach’. E.Trust in HRM practices and employee attitudes of a company’s HRM system. there is still much work to be done in gaining a better understanding of these relationships. Note 1. Although we have clearly demonstrated the importance of analysing the mechanisms mediating the relationship between HRM practices and employee-related outcomes. the large size of our sample has probably mitigated this limitation. 78–102. 2003. A. (2007). 68: 4. NY: Cornell University Press. T. developing more complex models which can embrace financial and economic indicators alongside employee-related outcomes.. Ithaca. This is in line with the results of several studies (Hutchinson and Purcell. through the mediating effects of work experiences and employee attitudes. 24–35.. 314 HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT JOURNAL. and Butcher. allowing us to obtain largely significant estimates. (1996). Human Resource Management Review. Arthur. We also perceive a need to expand the sphere of research. Becker. This would thus enable us to look at all the links of the causal chain that tie together HRM practices and organisational performance and assess the extent to which HRM practices. P. 779–801. Although this may have resulted in inflated structural coefficients. Bandalos. REFERENCES Appelbaum. Companies that participated in the Great Place to Work® Survey are in general advanced regarding issues of human resource management.L. SAM Advanced Management Journal. D.E. Atkinson. Structural Equation Modeling. motivation and extra-role behaviour.

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M. Clegg.Laura Innocenti. Massimo Pilati and Alessandro M.M. APPENDIX Model’s variables and measures Construct Variable name Variable/item description Human resource management practices Job Evaluation x1 Information Sharing x2 Training x3 Non Monetary Recognition x4 Economic Rewards x5 x6 Employee Survey x7 Job Design Employee attitude towards organisation My work has special meaning: this is not ‘just a job’ y1 y2 When I look at what we accomplish. in D. C. 2011 © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. and Wood. I feel a sense of pride I can be myself around here y3 I’m proud to tell others I work here y4 Trust in management Trust1 Trust2 Trust3 Management delivers on its promises Management’s actions match its words Management is honest and ethical HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT JOURNAL. The New Workplace: A Guide to the Human Impact of Modern Work Practices. T. Sparrow and A.D. P. Human Relations. 247–276. Holman. and Boswell. Journal of Management. (2002). (2004). Wall. Measurement type Dichotomous Dichotomous Dichotomous Dichotomous Dichotomous Dichotomous Dichotomous Likert-type Likert-type Likert-type Likert-type Likert-type Likert-type Likert-type 317 . T. Howard (eds). W. ‘The romance of human resource management and business performance and the case for big science’. P. P. ‘The human resource-firm performance relationship: methodological and theoretical challenges’. London: John Wiley & Sons. VOL 21 NO 3. and Gardner. Wright. 58: 4. ‘Desegregating HRM: a review and synthesis of micro and macro human resource management research’. S. Wright. 28: 3. 429–462. (2005). T.J. Peluso Wall.