A Critical Assessment of the High-Performance Paradigm



This paper assesses research on the effects of high-performance systems on employer, worker and union outcomes. It concludes that, compared with what has long been thought of as good management practice, claims that these systems yield superior performance outcomes may be unwarranted, and their implications for both workers and unions are at best uncertain. Conventional explanations for these findings are found to be insufficient. Alternative explanations involving the nature of the employment relation are proposed, and the need for an alternative paradigm, which promotes legal and institutional reforms, is established.