Exploring how and why the front line manager impacts employee attitudes and behaviours in the context of a high performance work system

McDermott, Jennifer
The study evaluates the role of the front line manager in both the how and why of HRM and performance. Through the lens of social exchange theory, the study queries the mediating effect of supervisory and organisational support on front line manager and employee relationships. The study uses a single case study organisation, Medco, to test the research model using both an employee survey (n=613) and semi-structured interviews (n=22) with employees and front line managers. Findings show the front line manager displays influential behaviours relating to policy enactment, coaching, leadership and organisational agency styles. The study finds support for an association between perceptions of how a front line manager behaves in the workplace and employee attitudes and behaviours. The study also finds evidence that the front line manager may themselves be a victim of the HPWS environment displaying uncertainty, workplace pressure, a reliance on personal power (charisma), and a lack of institutional (HR department) support. The study, firstly, contributes to theory by furthering the applicability of social exchange theory, while also advancing understanding of the front line manager role within the context of HPWS. Secondly, new avenues of methodogical investigation are advanced and discussed to understand the FLM impact at workgroup level. The study demonstrates the application of advanced mediation analysis, namely a bootstrapping technique, including the development of a macro for Minitab statistical software. Finally, the practical implications of this study are considered for HPWS and organisational management.
Publisher DOI
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Ireland