Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to compare the evidence from a range of reviews concerned with the links between human resource management (HRM) and performance. The aim of the paper is to review this diverse literature, and to derive human resource (HR) implications for healthcare researchers, policy makers and managers.
Design/methodology/approach: Recent reviews of the human resource management and performance literature are examined, in addition to the inclusion of a previously unpublished review. Their methods, HRM focus, findings and recommendations are contrasted in order to produce this review.
Findings: The paper finds that relationships have been found between a range of HRM practices, policies systems and performance. Despite being an important concern for HR professionals, there is little research exploring the link between HRM and performance in the health sector.
Research Limitations/implications: The paper sees that recent studies have found HRM practices to be associated with patient outcomes such as mortality, yet they yield little information regarding the processes through which HRM affects individual performance and its consequent impact on patient care. The use of approaches that seek to gain an understanding of workers' interpretations of their experience, i.e. the psychological process through which HRM can affect individual performance, may shed some light on how these processes work in practice.
Practical Implications: The paper shows that increasing autonomy for healthcare organisations in the UK, i.e. Foundation Trusts, may offer increased opportunity for locally tailored HR systems and practices.
Originality/value: The paper presents findings drawn from a review of previous research on a subject of increasing relevance to HR researchers and practitioners in healthcare organisations. The paper indicates alternative approaches to research and practice in light of extant research.