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Human Resources Professor Wins Prestigious International Research Award

By Wisconsin School of Business

August 14, 2015

Barry Gerhart, the Bruce Ellig Distinguished Chair in Pay and Organizational Effectiveness in the Management and Human Resources Department at the Wisconsin School of Business, and his co-authors have won the Academy of Management’s International Human Resources Management Scholarly Research Award (best international article) for their research on the effectiveness of high-performance human resources practices across countries and national cultures.

A diverse 11-member panel named Gerhart’s article “A Meta-Analysis of Country Differences in the High-Performance Work Systems-Business Performance Relationships: The Roles of National Culture and Managerial Discretion” the best article in the field of international human resources from 2014.

Barry Gerhart international human resources management scholarly research award uw–madison wisconsin school of business
Barry Gerhart, Barry Gerhart, Bruce Ellig Distinguished Chair in Pay and Organizational Effectiveness in the Management and Human Resources Department at the Wisconsin School of Business

The study found that practices used to enhance employee ability, motivation, and opportunity to contribute such as selectivity in staffing, investments in training, pay for performance, and employee participation in decision-making have very similar degrees of effectiveness across cultures.

“There’s a long history of people arguing that because different countries have different national cultures, that means some practices will work in some places but not in others,” Gerhart says. “But no organization has employees with the mean national culture. Every organization selects employees in a somewhat idiosyncratic way (and employees self-select as well), particularly when it comes to personality and values. Each has its own organizational culture.” Therefore, an organization may be able to adopt practices (sometimes with modification) that work elsewhere that may not be a good fit in general to the average national culture or employee  where it is located, but which are a good fit to its own particular organization culture and employees.

Two of Gerhart’s co-authors also have WSB connections. Tanja Rabl of the Technische Universitat Kaiserslautern was a visiting scholar at WSB, and Mevan Jayasinghe of Michigan State University received his Ph.D. from WSB. The third author is Torsten Kuhlmann from Bayreuth University.

This is latest in a series of honors Gerhart has received from the Academy of Management. In 2013, he was inducted as a Fellow of the Academy of Management. In 2012, he received the Herbert Heneman Jr. Career Achievement Award from the Academy of Management, Human Resources Division. He has also received the Scholarly Achievement Award (best article), and this is the second time he has won the International HRM Scholarly Research Award (having won the inaugural award in 2007 with his co-author, Meiyu Fang).)

The Human Resources Division of the Academy of Management is an organization of about 2,500 academics working to advance human resources knowledge.

For more about this research, read Professor Gerhart’s Forward Thinking Faculty Blog.