A theory-based analysis of null causality between HRM practices and outcomes: Evidence from four-wave longitudinal data

Chidiebere Ogbonnaya, Kevin Daniels, Jake Messersmith, Yasin Rofcanin

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3 Citations (Scopus)
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The last three decades have seen a growing interest in understanding the influence of human resource management (HRM) practices on employee job satisfaction and organizational performance. While the results have been generally positive, most studies have utilized cross-sectional research designs, which limit causal inferences. Recently, several studies have used longitudinal data but have not consistently found significant causal links between HRM practices and outcomes after controlling for past outcomes. This points to a tension in the literature that merits further investigation. Drawing on general systems theory (GST), we explore this issue by proposing and testing a set of null causal relationships involving HRM practices, organizational performance (i.e., patient satisfaction), and job satisfaction. We show that average scores on HRM practices and outcomes remain relatively stable at the organizational level over time, such that any observed within-organization change is likely negligible or non-significant. Using four-wave longitudinal data (with two, four, and six-year time lags) from the public healthcare sector, we argue that the causal links between HRM practices and outcomes are indeed sensitive to the forces of dynamic equilibrium operating within a highly institutionalized context. We use GST to highlight the self-sustaining nature of HRM systems and discuss the ramifications of this stability for strategic HRM research and practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1448-1484
Number of pages37
JournalJournal of Management Studies
Issue number6
Early online date26 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2023


  • HRM practices
  • Organizational performance
  • Job satisfaction
  • Lag effects
  • Reverse causality
  • Null causality
  • reverse causality
  • lag effects
  • null causality
  • job satisfaction
  • organizational performance

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