Loughborough University
Thesis-2010-Zhai.pdf (5.13 MB)

The role of human resource practices in enhancing employees' behaviours and organisational learning in Chinese construction organisations

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posted on 2010-11-12, 09:22 authored by Xiaofeng Zhai
Construction is complex and comprises a multitude of knowledge-driven activities and business interests from participating organisations with the people involved being subject to different organisational and disciplinary practices. People are fundamental to success because human capabilities in learning, innovating and changing creative directions are vital to long term development of organisations. In the last two decades, researchers have found that human resource (HR) management has positive effects on the organisational performance. However, the processes through which HR management lead to organisational performance are contested. This research proposes a framework to investigate the effects of employees’ behaviours and organisational learning on organisational performance and the impacts of HR practices on those effects in the context of Chinese construction enterprises. The research design adopts a multi-method approach, integrating positivism and interpretivism, to understand the complex relationship between HR practices, organisational learning, individual behaviour, and organisational performance. By consulting two experienced academic researchers and industry experts, the pilot study improves the understanding and implementation of the measurement instruments employed. Both quantitative and qualitative approaches are adopted in data collection and analysis: 326 valid respondents through questionnaire survey are received, and structural equation modelling is adopted to test individual behaviour and organisational learning as mediating variables of the relationship between HR practices and organisational performance respectively. Middle-level managers in Chinese construction firms are interviewed, and a cognitive map is produced to reveal the possible mediating variables and the cause-effect relationships between organisational learning and individual behaviour. The cause-effect route identified from the cognitive map is tested by structural equation modelling method, i.e., individual in-role behaviour as a mediating variable between organisational learning and performance. In conclusion, from the theoretical perspective, the results reveal the following. (1) Individual in-role behaviour has highly significantly positive effect on organisational performance. Organisational learning has very highly significantly positive effect on organisational performance. Both individual in-role behaviour and organisational learning have mediating effects on the relationship between HR practices and organisational performance. (2) HR practices positively affect individual in-role behaviour indirectly through organisational learning. Individual in-role behaviour mediates the relationship between organisational learning and organisational performance. (3) HR practices also affect organisational performance via the path-way of social capital, individual perceived organisational support, organisational citizenship behaviour (OCB), and co-worker productivity. For the practical implications, Chinese construction companies should implement the following to improve organisational performance. (1) Recognize the importance of employees’ in-role behaviour, and design HR practices to motivate employees to apply their knowledge, skills and abilities in job-related performance, and to retain qualified and experienced staff. (2) View organisational learning as an important component of competitive advantage in the process of organisational development, and motivate and enhance organisational learning by the employment of HR practices and the creation of social capital. (3) Recognize the importance of OCBI (i.e. organisational citizenship behaviour directed toward the benefit of other individuals), and try to elicit employees’ OCBI by improving employees’ perceived organisational support.



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering


© Xiaofeng Zhai

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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  • en