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A Matter of Learning: How Human Resources Affect Organizational Performance


  • The authors would like to thank the Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia (project reference ECO2008-03178) for its financial support for this research.

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Recently, a number of studies have tried to examine the processes that explain the influence of high performance work systems (HPWS) on company performance, in an attempt to understand which variables mediate this relationship and to what extent they do so. The importance of the organizational learning capability (OLC) construct has traditionally been outlined as being essential for a company's survival and effective performance. Thus, it seems important to establish whether HPWS can be considered an antecedent of OLC, and consequently to confirm whether OLC acts as a mediating variable in the HPWS–company performance linkage. Bearing in mind that HPWS represent a ‘bundle’ of mutually reinforcing, overlapping and synergistic individual human resource practices, this positive connection between HPWS and OLC seems reasonable. We tested our hypotheses by applying a structural equation methodology to a sample of 163 Spanish companies. Our findings show that the effects of HPWS on organizational performance are mediated by OLC.