Small Business Economics

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 273–291 | Cite as

Organization Context and Human Resource Management in the Small Firm

  • Jan de Kok
  • Lorraine M. Uhlaner


This paper examines the relationship between organization contextual variables and human resource management (HRM) practices in small firms. The proposed model is based on an integration of theoretical perspectives, including the resource-based approach, institutional theory, transaction cost economics (TCE), and concepts from strategic management. The model is explored empirically, with qualitative and quantitative analyses of data collected from a sample of sixteen small Dutch firms. Specific contextual variables examined include company size, the presence of a collective labor agreement, having a large firm associate, either as supplier, purchasing group or franchiser, and the company's strategic orientation toward growth (growth strategy). An important finding is the significance of having a large firm associate. Companies with a large firm associate are more likely to report having employer-based training programs. As predicted, company size is associated with more formal HRM practices, including greater regularity of performance appraisal and greater likelihood of employer-based training. A weak relationship is found between a more growth-oriented strategy and greater formality of these two HRM practices. Predictions based on collective labor agreements are not supported. The paper concludes that the findings warrant further research on the relationship between organization contextual variables and the formalization of HRM practices, although a clearer definition of the latter variable is needed in future research.


Small Firm Human Resource Management Strategic Management Organization Context Institutional Theory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan de Kok
    • 1
  • Lorraine M. Uhlaner
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.CASBEC, Rotterdam; andEIM Business and Policy Research (EIM)ZoetermeerThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Eastern Michigan UniveresityU.S.A
  3. 3.Center for Advanced Small Business Economics (CASBEC)Erasmus University of RotterdamRotterdamThe Netherlands

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