High Performance Work Systems in the Intellectual Disability Care Sector in Ireland; an Exploratory Study at Organisational Level

  •  Elaine C. Berkery    
  •  Siobhan D. Tiernan    
  •  Claire Armstrong    


There is a growing appreciation in the healthcare field of the importance of complementing physician expertise with more effective organisational processes and procedures (Flood 1994). Gowen et al (2006) suggest that Strategic Human Resource Management (SHRM) can effectively address hospital errors in tandem with quality management processes and procedures. To date, there is a growing wealth of research investigating how SHRM practices can increase organisational performance and competitiveness in the private sector. Unfortunately, this is not true of the healthcare sector, or indeed the Intellectual Disability Care (IDC) Sector where there remains a dearth of research addressing the linkages between HRM and organisational effectiveness. The purpose of this paper is two fold. Firstly, the paper will examine the literature investigating SHRM in healthcare, with reference to the IDC Sector where possible, focussing specifically on High Performance Work Systems (HPWS). Secondly, the paper will focus on how far HPWS have expanded in the sector at an organisational level from a management perspective. A postal questionnaire was chosen as the means of gathering this information. One questionnaire was sent to the human resource manager in each IDC centre in Ireland. The findings provide us with some important insights into the differential utilisation of the components of HPWS across the sector. The areas of HPWS in which the centres achieved the highest score were service user focus and teamwork. The area scored least favourably was communication between management and employees.

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