Update 26-10-2017: the paper has been published open access and is freely available here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hrm.21847/abstract.  

The HR technology landscape is evolving rapidly and with it, the HR function is becoming more and more data-driven (though not fast enough, some argue). HRM research, however, is still characterized by a strong reliance on general linear models like linear regression and ANOVA. In our forthcoming article in the special issue on Workforce Analytics of Human Resource Management, my co-authors and I argue that HRM research would benefit from an outside-in perspective, drawing on techniques that are commonly used in fields other than HRM.

Our article first outlines how the current developments in the measurement of HRM implementation and employee behaviors and cognitions may cause the more traditional statistical techniques to fall short. Using the relationship between work engagement and performance as a worked example, we then provide two illustrations of alternative methodologies that may benefit HRM research:

Using latent variables, bathtub models are put forward as the solution to examine multi-level mechanisms with outcomes at the team or organizational level without decreasing the sample size or neglecting the variation inherent in employees’ responses to HRM activities (see figure 1). Optimal matching analysis is proposed as particularly useful to examine the longitudinal patterns that occur in repeated observations over a prolonged timeframe. We describe both methods in a fair amount of detail, touching on elements such as the data requirements all the way up to the actual modeling steps and limitations.

 

figure-bathtub-model
An illustration of the two parts of a latent bathtub model.

 

I want to thank my co-authors and Shell colleagues Zsuzsa Bakk, Vasileios Giagkoulas, Linda van Leeuwen, and Esther Bongenaar for writing this, in my own biased opinion, wonderful article with me and I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as we did writing it.

Link to pre-publication