Tesis Doctoral

"Strategic human resource management and diversity in work groups: a structural analysis of moderating effects".


Gonzalo Sanchez Gardey

Department of Business Organisation University of Cadiz

May 2006

Thesis supervisors:

Dr. Fernando Martin Alcazar,

Dr. Pedro Miguel Romero Fernandez

Summary of conclusions


Both the theoretical review with which we have begun this thesis and the subsequent empirical analysis show that the models of strategic human resource management and workforce diversity are, in many respects, complementary. The desirability of integrating their propositions had been expressed on numerous occasions from both fields of literature, both in works on diversity (Benschop, 2001) and by authors from the human resources field (Kochan et al., 2003). We have been able to see how this integration is conceptually possible, due to the multiple points in common of the models proposed from both fields.

Broadly speaking, we could say that the main connection is through the concept of human capital.                  ( Schultz,1971; Beckar,1972 ).

Indeed. We saw how the knowledge, skills, and abilities of employees were the focus of much of the strategic human resource management models (Wright and McMahan, 1992), which consider that this is where the strategic value of workforces lies.

Similarly, recent concepts of diversity have also emphasised the human capital of groups. Works such as those of Thompson and Gooler (1995) or Lawence (1997), for example, expressed the need to deepen the analysis of differences between group members in "non-visible" attributes.

Of these, those related to job performance, such as employees' knowledge (Thacher, Jahn and Sanutto, 2003), have been particularly emphasised. As well as their skills, aptitudes and experiences (Thompson and Gooler, 1996; Finn and Chattopadhyay, 2000).

A second commonality that has also allowed us to connect the two disciplines is the prominence they give to the system of human resource practices (Kossek and Lobel, 1995): Gelade and Ivery, 2003).

Much of the work that had looked at the impact of diversity concluded that the effects of this characteristic of groups depend to a large extent on a number of moderating factors. Reversing their nature, we were able to observe how many of these were within the scope of the strategic human resource management function as defined. The findings of studies such as those of Pichard and SHetor ( 2007 ) or Kochan et al. ( 2003 ) led us to formulate the generic hypothesis that, with a certain combination of these practices, the organisation could foster in groups the conditions necessary to reap the benefits of diversity (employee interaction, collectivism, mutuality of interests or open discussion processes).

On the basis of these two links (human capital and factors moderating the effects of diversity), we constructed an integrative model that was subsequently tested using the methodology of structural equation analysis. Although not all the relationships proposed from a theoretical point of view could be verified and although the estimation in some cases poses certain problems of fit, the results obtained allow us to conclude that this integration facilitates the explanation of the functioning of diverse work groups and, ultimately, is beneficial for the development of both fields of research:

For models of strategic human resource management, because it allows us to break with the assumption that the outside world of work is a generic and homogeneous category.  ( Dickens,1998; Truss,199X; Benschop, 2001).

For diversity management models, because it allows to systematically define patterns of management practices through which the different effects of democratic and psychosocial heterogeneity of groups can be moderated (Richard et al., 1002; Kochan et al., 2003).

In this last chapter of the thesis, we will develop two conclusions. To do so, we will synthesise the main evidence that emerges from the empirical testing of the model in terms of the concept and effects of diversity, as well as the incidence of the human resources management system. In the same way, with the intention of limiting the scope of this research, its main limitations will be discussed, as well as all the questions still to be studied and the ways in which, in our opinion, this line of work can be further developed.