Front-line managers as agents in the HRM-performance causal chain: theory, analysis and evidence


John Purcell, School of Management, University of Bath, Bath BA2 7AY. Email:


Research on the link between HRM and organisational performance has neglected the role of front-line managers, yet it is these managers who are increasingly charged with the implementation of many HR practices. Using an employee survey in 12 ‘excellent’ companies we explore the extent to which employee commitment towards their employer and their job are influenced by the quality of leadership behaviour and by satisfaction with HR practices. Both have a strong effect on employee attitudes. The article concludes with a case study of a planned effort to improve front-line managers' skills in people management.