Professional service firms (PSFs) present HR professionals with a number of unique challenges, as they share characteristics of both service and knowledge intensive organizations. While many of these firms are relying on High Commitment Work Practices (HCWPs) to enhance critical employee behaviors such as service quality and turnover, the analysis presented in this paper raises questions about traditional understandings of commitment in professional service environments. In particular, data from three Danish financial investment PSFs suggest that employees are more committed to developing and promoting their own professions than to the organization itself, which has important implications for the way in which HCWPs are designed and utilized. In addition, the focus of HCWP research has favored the use of social exchange theory as an underpinning framework for considering the impact of HR practices on employee commitment. In the context of PSFs, we question the applicability of social exchange theory and instead draw upon the Ability-Motivation-Opportunity (AMO) framework (1982) to analyze how specific HRM practices contribute to the development of commitment, and to successful organizational outcomes in PSFs.
Academy of Management Proceedings, 2012, Vol 2012
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