A substantial body of research has examined how employee reports of human resource management (HRM) practices relate to employee performance, yet it only acknowledges to a limited extent that different types of employee reports of HRM exist. This study differentiates descriptive reports of HRM practices which reflect employee experiences of the implementation of HRM activities and evaluative reports of HRM practices that gauge employees’ judgement of their effectiveness, quality and/or utility. By applying a meta-analytical approach, we find that descriptive reports of HRM practices are more positively related to personal and job resources (e.g. skills, empowerment, and supportive relationships) and that evaluative reports of HRM practices are more positively related to job attitudes (i.e. job satisfaction and commitment). We further find that personal/job resources and job attitudes partially mediate the positive relationship between employee-reported HRM practices and employee performance. We recommend that future studies distinguish between different types of employee reports of HRM, more clearly conceptualize the notion of employee-reported HRM practices, and examine the differential relationship between descriptive versus evaluative employee reports of HRM practices and employee outcomes.


Our meta-analytical study examined how descriptive and evaluative employee reports of HRM practices relate to employee-level outcomes in heterogenous ways. In doing so, we found that descriptive reports of HPWPs are more strongly related to personal/job resources, while evaluative reports of HPWPs relate more strongly to job attitudes. Furthermore, we found that resources and job attitudes partially mediate the positive relationship between employee reports of HPWPs and employee performance. These results emphasize the importance of distinguishing between descriptive and evaluative employee reports of HRM practices, and we hope that they will encourage researchers to study why descriptive and evaluative reports of HRM practices differentially relate to outcomes. Gaining more insight into the functions that different types of employee experiences of HRM can fulfill, such as the fulfillment of functional versus emotional needs, can shed more light on the pathways through which employee reports of HRM practices are associated with outcomes, ultimately contributing to a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying the relationship between employee-reported HRM and employee performance.


The authors thank Dr Peter ten Klooster for his assistance with the post-hoc moderation analysis. Furthermore, the authors thank Dr Kaifeng Jiang, the two anonymous reviewers, the members of the Department of People Management and Organization at ESADE Business School, and the participants of the “Sustainable HRM: The Measurement Issue” symposium (10th Biennial International Conference of the Dutch HRM Network, Radboud University, Nijmegen, Netherlands, November 9-10, 2017) for their valuable feedback.

Disclosure statement

No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author(s).


1 We acknowledge that even with descriptive HRM system reports, there will be some standard for comparison with e.g. employees’ expectations or past experiences. Such comparisons are, however, more related to concepts such as psychological contract breach/fulfillment which are beyond the scope of this paper.

2 Please contact the corresponding author in case you want to receive the overview of how we coded our included studies for extending and replicating our findings.

3 Articles included in the meta-analysis are marked with an asterisk.

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Academy of Management Journal

Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources

British Journal of Management

Employee Relations

European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology

Human Resource Development Quarterly

Human Resource Management

Human Resource Management Journal

International Journal of Human Resource Management

Journal of Applied Psychology

Journal of Management

Journal of Management Studies

Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology

Journal of Organizational Behavior

Journal of Vocational Behavior

Organization Science

Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes

Personnel Psychology

Personnel Review

APPENDIX C Post-hoc sensitivity analyses

We conducted several sensitivity analyses to confirm the robustness of our results. First, to assess the influence of single studies, we conducted a sample removed analysis where we removed individual studies, one at a time, and re-computed the meta-analytical correlation (Iyengar & Greenhouse, 2009). This showed that less than 10 percent of the studies produced a different mean correlation when removed from the meta-analysis. We included these recomputed correlations in our meta-analytical correlation matrix and fitted our final mediating model (Figure 3) to this matrix. The model fit statistics (Δχ2 = 63.25; Δdf = 7; p < .001; CFI = .98; RMSEA = .08; SRMR = .02) as well as coefficient estimates (descriptive reports of HPWPs versus evaluative reports of HPWPs and job attitudes, respectively: β = .19, p < .001; β = .44, p < .001; descriptive reports of HPWPs versus evaluative reports of HPWPs and resources, respectively: β = .49, p < .001; β = .21, p < .001) resembled those that were found when using our original correlation matrix. This indicates that our results are not heavily influenced by a single, large-sample study.

Second, to correct for publication bias we conducted a trim-and-fill analysis because it corrects for funnel plot asymmetries that potential result from the exclusion of unpublished studies which found non-significant/small effect sizes that allegedly cause publication bias (for a detailed explanation, we refer to Duval & Tweedie, 2000). The majority of the studies included in our meta-analyses fell within the funnel plot boundaries. Furthermore, the number of studies which resided on the left-hand side of the funnel plot (i.e. those that present small-scale and/or non-significant effect sizes) equaled those on its right-hand side, which is a first signal that publication bias is not concerned. Nevertheless, we recomputed the mean correlations among employee reports of HPWPs, job attitudes and resources on the basis of our trim-and-fill analysis, and included these in our meta-analytical correlation matrix. Our final model (Figure 3) was fitted to this new ‘trimmed-and-filled’ matrix. The model fit statistics resembled those obtained when using our original correlation matrix (Δχ2 = 62.06; Δdf = 7; p < .001; CFI = .98; RMSEA = .08; SRMR = .02). Also, the regression coefficients obtained from the ‘trimmed-and-filled’ matrix resembled those obtained from our original matrix (descriptive reports of HPWPs versus evaluative reports of HPWPs and job attitudes, respectively: β = .24, p < .001; β = .32, p < .001; Z = 7.78, p < .001; descriptive reports of HPWPs versus evaluative reports HPWPs and personal/job resources, respectively: β = .53, p < .001; β = .09, p < .001). This shows that our results and conclusions are not affected by a potential publication bias.

A meta-analysis of mediating mechanisms between employee reports of human resource management and employee performance

Author(s): Jeroen G. Meijerink,Susanne E. Beijer &Anna C. Bos-Nehles

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Rusdin Tahir

Senior Lecturer [study on leaves] Department of Business Administration Science Faculty of Social and Political Science UNIVERSITY OF PADJADJARAN Jalan Raya Bandung-Sumedang KM 21 Jatinangor 45363, West Java, Indonesia Ph: +62 22 7792647,7796416 Fax: +62 22 7792647 Mobile: +62 81 123 9491; 822 919 356 65 Email:;; Web: Web: Web: Web: Web:

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