The line makes the difference: line managers as effective HRM partners

Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

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The HR role of line managers is highly discussed and criticized but little empirically researched. It is argued that line managers are not able to effectively implement HR practices because they do not have the desire, capacity and competences needed to perform well and lack support and policies & procedures to effectively implement HRM on the work floor. This thesis did measure the effect of these five constraints on line managers’ HR implementation effectiveness by first identifying the relevant HR constraints for the line management by interviews, then developing a research instrument to measure the five constraints and finally to measure the effect of these constraints on line managers’ HR implementation effectiveness, taking organisational differences into consideration. Subordinates evaluated their line manager’s HR implementation as effective. However, the more motivated line managers are to perform HR practices, the worse they are perceived in performing such tasks on the work floor. When being motivated to execute HR the way they should, line managers stick to HR guidelines and rules and hence lack the necessary room for maneuver and freedom in applying HR practices according to their own benefits. Somewhat surprisingly, only line managers’ HR-related competences increased the effectiveness of HR implementation, while their capacity, support and policy & procedures did not significantly affect HR implementation effectiveness. Although case studies have identified five factors that can contribute to explaining the ineffectiveness of line managers when it comes to HR implementation, in fact these factors, with the exception of the line managers’ self-perceived competences, by and large do not explain or predict line management effectiveness. The research contributes to important discussions in theory and practice by empirically testing a widely-recognized problem in various organizations and by providing clear advice for organisations and HR departments on how to improve their performance. It is a ‘must read’ for HR managers and line managers alike.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Twente
  • Looise, Jan C., Supervisor
  • van Riemsdijk, Maarten, Co-Supervisor
Award date29 Apr 2010
Place of PublicationEnschede
Print ISBNs978-90-8570-513-0
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2010


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