Human capital and sustainable competitive advantage: an analysis of the relationship between training and performance

  • Ignacio Danvila del Valle
  • Miguel Angel Sastre Castillo


This article analyses the importance of training as a creator of human capital, which enables a company to obtain competitive advantages that are sustainable in the long-term that result in greater profitability. The study is based on the general theoretical framework of resource and capacity theory. The study not only analyses the impact of the influence of training on performance; it also attempts to analyse the nature of such a relationship in greater depth. This being the case, an attempt has been made to measure explanatory capacity from two different perspectives: the universalistic approach and the contingent approach. At the outset, two hypotheses are formulated that attempt to quantify the relationship from a universalistic perspective to later, in two more hypotheses, incorporate the potential moderating effect of the strategy into the model, in order to verify whether or not this strategy improves the explanatory power of our model of analysis.


Training Human capital Competitive advantage Intangibles Strategic human resources management 


  1. Amit, R., & Schoemaker, P. J. H. (1993). Strategic assets and organizational rent. Strategic Management Journal, 14(1), 33–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aragón, A., Barba, M. I., & Sanz, R. (2003). Effects of training on business results. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 14(6), 956–980.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arthur, J. B. (1992). The link between business strategy and industrial relations systems in American steel minimills. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 45(3), 488–506.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Arthur, J. B. (1994). Effects of human resource systems on manufacturing performance and turnover. Academy of Management Journal, 37(3), 670–687.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bacidore, J. M., Boquist, J. A., Milbourn, T. T., & Thakor, A. V. (1997). The search for the best financial performance measure. Financial Analysis Journal, 54(1), 11–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Balkin, D., & Gómez-Mejía, L. R. (1990). Matching compensation and organizational strategies. Strategic Management Journal, 11(2), 153–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Barney, J. (1991). Firm resources and sustained competitive advantage. Journal of Management, 17(1), 99–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Barrett, A., & O’Connell, P. J. (2001). Does training generally work? The returns to in-company training. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 54(3), 647–662.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bartel, A. (1994). Productivity gains from the implementation of employee training programs. Industrial Relations, 33(4), 411–425.Google Scholar
  10. Bartel, A. (2000). Measuring the employer’s return on investments in training: Evidence from the literature. Industrial Relations, 39(3), 502–524.Google Scholar
  11. Bassi, L. J., Ludwig, J., Mc Murrer, D. P., & Van Buren, M. (2002). Profiting from learning: Firm-level effects of training investments and market implications. Singapore Management Review, 24(3), 61–76.Google Scholar
  12. Bayo Moriones, A., & Merino Díaz de Cerio, J. (2002). Las prácticas de recursos humanos de alto compromiso: Un estudio de los factores que influyen sobre su adopción en la industria española. Cuadernos de Economía y Dirección de la Empresa, 12, 227–246.Google Scholar
  13. Becker, G. S., & Gerhart, B. (1996). The impact of human resource management on organizational performance: Progress and prospects. Academy of Management Journal, 39(4), 779–801.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Black, J. A., & Boal, K. B. (1994). Strategic resources: Traits, configurations and paths to sustainable competitive advantage. Strategic Management Journal, 15(2), 131–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Black, S. E., & Lynch, L. M. (2001). How to compete: The impact of workplace practices and information technology on productivity. The Review of Economics and Statistics, 83(3), 434–445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Broadbent, S. (1993). Advertising effects: More than a short term. Journal of the Market Research Society, 35(1), 37–49.Google Scholar
  17. Bukowitz, W. R., & Petrash, G. P. (1997). Visualizing, measuring, and managing knowledge. Research-Technology Management, 40(4), 24–31.Google Scholar
  18. Carpenter, M. A., Sanders, G., & Gregersen, H. B. (2001). Bundling human capital with organizational context: The impact of international assignment experience on multinational firm performance and CEO pay. Academy of Management Journal, 44(3), 493–511.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Cohen, J., & Cohen, P. (1983). Applied multiple regression/correlation analysis for the behavioural sciences. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  20. Collis, D. J., & Montgomery, C. A. (1995). Competing on resources: Strategy in the 1990s. Harvard Business Review, 73, 118–128.Google Scholar
  21. Cool, K., & Dierickx, I. (1989). Asset stock accumulation and sustainability of competitive advantage. Management Science, 35(12), 1504–1514.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Danvila del Valle, I., & Sastre Castillo, M. A. (2005). Problemas y propuestas de medición de la formación en la empresa. Cuadernos de Estudios Empresariales, 15, 27–45.Google Scholar
  23. D’Arcimocles, C. H. (1997). Human resources policies and company performance: A quantitative approach using longitudinal data. Organization Studies, 18(1), 857–874.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Delaney, J., & Huselid, M. (1996). The impact of human resources management practices on perceptions of organizational performance. Academy of Management Journal, 39(4), 949–969.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Delery, J. E., & Doty, D. H. (1996). Modes of theorizing in strategic human resource management: tests of universalistic, contingency, and configurational performance predictions. Academy of Management Journal, 39(4), 802–835.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Goval, A., & Welch, I. (2004). A comprehensive look at the empirical performance of equity premium prediction. National Bureau of Economic Research, 12(3), 580–631.Google Scholar
  27. Grant, R. M. (1991). The resourced-based theory of competitive advantage: Implications for strategy formulation. California Management Review, 33(3), 114–135.Google Scholar
  28. Hall, R. (1992). The strategic analysis of intangible resources. Strategic Management Journal, 13(2), 135–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hatch, N. W., & Dyer, J. H. (2004). Human capital and learning as a source of sustainable competitive advantage. Strategic Management Journal, 25(12), 1155–1178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hitt, M. A., Bierman, L., Shimizu, K., & Kochhar, R. (2001). Direct and moderating effects of human capital on strategy and performance in professional service firms: A resource-based perspective. Academy of Management Journal, 44(1), 13–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Holzer, M. A. (1995). The impact of human resource management practices on turnover, productivity and corporate financial performance. Academy of Management Journal, 38(3), 635–672.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hunter, L. W. (2000). The adoption of innovative work practices in service stablishments. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 11(3), 477–496.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Huselid, M. A. (1995). The impact of human resource management practices on turnover, productivity, and corporate financial performance. Academy of Management Journal, 38(3), 635–672.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Huselid, M. A., & Becker, B. (1996). Metholodogical issues in cross-sectional estimates of the human resource-firm performance link. Industrial Relations, 35(3), 400–422.Google Scholar
  35. Huselid, M. A., Jackson, S. E., & Schuler, R. S. (1997). Technical and strategic human resource management effectiveness as determinants of firm performance. Academy of Management Journal, 40(1), 171–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Ichniowski, C., Shaw, K., & Prennushi, G. (1997). The effects of human resource management practices on productivity. American Economic Review, 87(3), 291–313.Google Scholar
  37. Kidder, P. J., & Rouiller, J. Z. (1997). Evaluating the success of a large-scale training effort. National Productivity Review, 16(2), 371–380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Koch, M. J., & Mc Grath, R. G. (1996). Improving labor productivity: Human resource management policies do matter. Strategic Management Journal, 17(5), 335–354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kochan, T. A., & Osterman, P. (1994). The mutual gains enterprise: Forging and winning partnership among labor, management and government. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.Google Scholar
  40. Kroll, M., Wright, P., & Heiens, R. A. (1999). The contribution of product quality to competitive advantage: Impact on systematic variance and unexplained variance in returns. Strategic Management Journal, 20(4), 375–384.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Kruse, D., Freeman, R., Blasi, J., Buchele, R., & Scharf, A. (2004). Motivating employee–owners in firms: Human resource policies and company performance. National Bureau of Economic Research, 6(2), 170–202.Google Scholar
  42. Kydd, C. T., & Oppenheim, L. (1990). Using human resource management to enhance competitiveness: Lessons from four excellent companies. Human Resource Management, 29(2), 145–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Lee, J., & Miller, D. (1999). People matter: Commitment to employees, strategy and performance in Korean firms. Strategic Management Journal, 20(6), 579–593.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Lee, S. H., Phan, P. H., & Chan, E. (2005). The impact of HR configuration on firm performance in Singapore: A resource-based explanation. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 16(9), 1740–1758.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Leonard, J. S. (1990). Executive pay and firm performance. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 43(1), 13–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Lloréns, F. J. (1996). Procesos, contenido y efectividad de la calidad total: Una aproximación desde la dirección de empresas. Revista Europea de Dirección y Economía de la Empresa, 5(3), 163–180.Google Scholar
  47. Martell, K., Gupta, A., & Carroll, S. J. (1996). Human resource management practices, business strategies, and firm performance: a test of strategy implementation theory. Irish Business and Administrative Research, 17(1), 18–35.Google Scholar
  48. Martín Alcázar, F., Romero Fernández, P. M., & Sánchez Gardel, G. (2005). Strategic human resource management: Integrating the universalistic, contingent, configurational and contextual perspective. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 16(5), 633–659.Google Scholar
  49. Mc Duffie, J. P. (1995). Human resource bundles and manufacturing performance, flexible productions systems in the world auto industry. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 48(2), 197–221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. McEvoy, G. M. (1997). Organizational change and outdoor management education. Human Resource Management, 36(2), 235–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. McGahan, A. M., & Porter, M. E. (2003). The emergence and sustainability of abnormal profits. Strategic Organization, 1(1), 79–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Murray, B., & Raffaele, G. C. (1997). Single-site, results level. Evaluation of quality awareness training. Human Resource Development Quaterly, 8(3), 229–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Ordiz Fuertes, M. (2002). Prácticas de alto rendimiento en recursos humanos: concepto y factores que motivan su adopción. Cuadernos de Economía y Dirección de la Empresa, 12, 247–266.Google Scholar
  54. Osterman, P. (1995). Skill, training, and work organization in American establishments. Industrial Relations, 34(2), 125–146.Google Scholar
  55. Peck, S. R. (1994). Exploring the link between organizational strategy and the employment relationship: The role of human resources policies. Journal of Management Studies, 31(5), 715–736.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Peteraf, M. A. (1993). The cornerstones of competitive advantage. A resourced-based view. Strategic Management Journal, 14(3), 179–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Pfeffer, J. (1994). Competitive advantage through people. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.Google Scholar
  58. Pfeffer, J. (1998). Seven practices of successful organizations. California Management Review, 40(2), 96–124.Google Scholar
  59. Pfeffer, J., & Baron, J. N. (1988). Taking the workers back out: Recent trends in the structuring of employment. Research in Organizational Behaviour, 10(2), 257–303.Google Scholar
  60. Procopio, A. J., & Fairfeld-Sonn, J. W. (1996). Changing attitudes toward quality. An exploratory study. Group & Organization Management, 21(2), 133–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Purcell, J. (1999). Best practice and best fit: Chimera or cul-de-sac? Human Resource Management Journal, 9(3), 26–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Raghuram, M. (1994). Linking staffing and training practices with business strategy: A theoretical perspective. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 5(3), 237–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Rajagopalan, N. (1996). Strategic orientations, incentive plan adoptions, and firm performance: Evidence from electric utility firms. Strategic Management Journal, 18(2), 761–785.Google Scholar
  64. Ribeiro, D. (2005). The new role of the corporate and functional strategies in the tourism sector: Spanish small and medium-sized hotels. Service Industries Journal, 25(4), 601–613.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Richard, O. C., & Johnson, N. B. (2001). Strategic human resource management effectiveness and firm performance. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 12(2), 299–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Rodríguez Pérez, J. M. (2001). Los sistemas de gestión de recursos humanos y la efectividad de las organizaciones. Oviedo: Documento del Departamento de Administración de Empresas y Contabilidad de la Universidad de Oviedo.Google Scholar
  67. Rogers, E. W., & Wright, P. M. (1998). Measuring organizational performance in strategic human resource management: Problems, prospects and performance information markets. Human Resource Management Review, 8(3), 311–331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Saá Pérez, P., & García Falcón, J. M. (2002). A resource-based view of human resource management and organizational capabilities development. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 13(1), 123–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Sánchez Marín, G., & Aragón Sánchez, A. (2002). Retribución del directivo, factores contextuales y resultados de la empresa: evidencia empírica en el sector químico-farmacéutico. Cuadernos de Economía y Dirección de la Empresa, 12, 315–336.Google Scholar
  70. Sastre Castillo, M. A., & Aguilar Pastor, E. M. (2000). El enfoque estratégico en la dirección de recursos humanos. Revista de Estudios Financieros, 202, 103–134.Google Scholar
  71. Sastre Castillo, M. A., & Aguilar Pastor, E. M. (2003). Dirección de recursos humanos: Un enfoque estratégico. Madrid: McGraw Hill.Google Scholar
  72. Schuler, R. S., & Jackson, S. E. (1987). Linking competitive strategy with human resource practices. Academy of Management Executive, 1(3), 207–219.Google Scholar
  73. Terpstra, D. E., & Rozell, E. (1993). The relationship of staffing practices to organizational level measures of performance. Personnel Psychology, 46(1), 27–48.Google Scholar
  74. Tzafrir, S. S. (2005). The relationship between trust, HRM practices and firm performance. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 16(9), 1600–1622.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Úbeda García, M. (2005). Training and business performance: The Spanish case. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 16(9), 1691–1710.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Walton, R. A. (1985). From control to commitment in the workplace. Harvard Business Review, 63(2), 77–84.Google Scholar
  77. White, J. B., & Miles, M. P. (1996). The financial implications of advertising as an investment. Journal of Advertising Research, 36(4), 43–52.Google Scholar
  78. Wood, S., & Albanese, M. (1995). Can we speak of a high commitment management of the shop floor? Journal of Management Studies, 32(2), 215–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Wright, P. M., & McMahan, G. C. (1992). Theoretical perspectives for strategic human resources management. Journal of Management, 18(2), 295–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Youndt, M. A., Snell, S. A., Dean, J. W., & Lepak, D. P. (1996). Human resource management, manufacturing strategy and firm performance. Academy of Management Journal, 39(4), 836–866.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ignacio Danvila del Valle
    • 1
  • Miguel Angel Sastre Castillo
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Centro Universitario VillanuevaUniversidad Complutense de MadridMadridSpain
  2. 2.Universidad Complutense de MadridMadridSpain
  3. 3.Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de MéxicoMexico CityMexico

Personalised recommendations