Accueil » 62-3 ( 2007) » La gestion à « haute performance » dans la fonction publique québécoise : pratiques mobilisatrices et cohérence

La gestion à « haute performance » dans la fonction publique québécoise : pratiques mobilisatrices et cohérence

Daniel Beaupré et Julie Cloutier

Résumé

Cette recherche qualitative fait ressortir l’existence de modèles de gestion à « haute performance » dans la fonction publique québécoise. Les résultats suggèrent l’existence de deux catégories de pratiques de gestion des ressources humaines (RH) mobilisatrices qui agissent sur l’engagement des salariés à travers des mécanismes distincts : 1) les pratiques liées au partage d’information et à la participation des salariés à la gestion et 2) les autres pratiques de RH (les nouvelles formes d’organisation du travail, la gestion axée sur les résultats et la formation liée à l’emploi) qui influencent les perceptions de justice organisationnelle et de support organisationnel. Les résultats suggèrent également un lien entre les performances économiques et sociales et la « double cohérence » des pratiques RH, à savoir la cohérence interne et la cohérence symbolique.

Abstract

“High Performance” Management Practices in the Quebec Civil Service

Mobilizing Practices and Coherence

More and more interest is being given to the high performance work system, which is based on the concept that employees are a major and lasting source of competitive advantages. This management model has as its goal the economic and social performance of firms through the involvement of the workers, who try to create the human resources management practices known as mobilizing (high-involvement management practices, high-commitment practices, high-performance management practices). The spread of the “high-performance” management model and the characteristics of its HR practices in the manufacturing sector have, in particular, gained the attention of researchers. However, few studies have been carried out in the service sector.

Our research contributes to the advancement of knowledge in that it is the first study of its kind to examine the “high-performance” management model in the public service sector. More precisely, it focuses on the Autonomous Service Units (ASUs) created by the Government of Quebec within the framework of its modernization policy for public management in 1999. More specifically, the objective of our qualitative research is: 1) to verify if the new management model of the Autonomous Service Units corresponds to a “high-performance” management model; 2) to identify those HR management practices which are mobilizing, and 3) to open the “black box” so as to understand better how these practices are linked to the social and economic performance of the ASUs. In order to do so, three major analysis dimensions were selected: 1) changes implemented at the level of work organization HR practices (staffing, training, performance management, and salary); 2) attitudes of the employees and of the managers towards the ASUs, and 3) economic performance of the ASUs (ex., operating costs, production costs, service waiting periods, client satisfaction).

Our results show that two of the four ASUs under study have the characteristics of a “high-performance” management model: the employees are committed and motivated, their level of satisfaction is very high (social performance), and the economic performance of the ASU showed exceptional growth.

The results suggest the existence of two categories of HR mobilizing practices which act upon employee commitment, by means of distinct mechanisms. The first practice category concerns practices which act directly on the employees’ commitment. This involves practices linked to information sharing and those linked to employee participation in the management of the ASU. It seems that the effect of these practices is that the employees feel more responsible for the success of their unit because: 1) they know the unit’s objectives; 2) they know in what way their contribution is linked to the attainment of unit objectives, and 3) they receive regular feedback on the unit’s performance progression.

The second category of practices involves practices which indirectly raise employee commitment, by means of the influence which they have on the perceptions of organizational justice and organizational support (POS) These practices would have the effect that employees consider themselves fairly treated, and feel important and respected by the organization and have the feeling of contributing to its success. Our results show that four practices appear in this second category: 1) results-oriented performance management because this shows that the ASU recognizes the importance of the contribution of its employees; 2) work reorganization because it is interpreted as a recognition of employee expertise; 3) pertinent performance indicators and the performance evaluation process because they are a sign of fairness and of respect towards the employees, and 4) specific work-related training because this shows willingness on the part of the ASU to help employees improve their competencies so they can adapt to new work methods. These practices also have a direct effect on employee motivation and productivity.

The results also suggest that the economic and social performance of ASUs is linked to the “double coherence” of HR practices, that is to say, internal coherence and symbolic coherence. The first type of coherence refers to the configuration of practices or what one generally refers to with the term “internal fit.” It concerns the logic linking the willingness (commitment), the ability (competence), and the opportunity of acting (the structuring of work and of resources). Symbolic coherence, in turn, concerns the significance that the employees attribute to HR practices. Our results thus suggest that the symbolic content of HR practices would be an important dimension for “high-performance” management. These results have implications for both HR practice design and implementation.

Resumen

La gestión de alto rendimiento en la función pública quebequense

Practicas movilizadoras y coherencia

Este estudio cualitativo hace resaltar la existencia de modelos de gestión de alto rendimiento en la función pública quebequense. Los resultados sugieren la existencia de dos categorías de práctica de gestión de recursos humanos movilizadoras que actúan sobre la implicación de los asalariados a través de mecanismos distintos : 1) las practicas que facilitan compartir la información y la participación de los trabajadores a la gestión y 2) las otras prácticas de gestión de recursos humanos (las nuevas formas de organización del trabajo, la gestión centrada en los resultados y la formación vinculada al empleo) que influencian las percepciones de justicia organizacional y de soporte organizacional. Los resultados sugieren igualmente un vínculo entre los resultados económicos y sociales y la “doble coherencia” de las prácticas de gestión de recursos humanos, es decir la coherencia interna y la coherencia simbólica.