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Perceptions et attitudes à l'égard des ressources humaines : le cas de l'alimentation au détail au Québec

Perceptions et attitudes à l'égard des ressources humaines : le cas de l'alimentation au détail au Québec

René Blais

Volume : 49-2 (1994)


The human factor has become a focal point for many Company managers. Consumer concern for quality products and service at a reasonable price is forcing businesses to both adopt a strategy which is appropriate to their environment and be concerned with self-consistency in order to survive. Given the extremely erratic business climate, companies have to set aside the traditional goal of stability and instead adopt the opposite: flexibility. For some, this is the sine qua nonof a quality-oriented strategic management policy.

Recent literature on human resource management maintains that in a highly unsettled environment, company managers tend to adopt positive views of and attitudes toward employees. It even seems as though acknowledging the environmental upheaval induces managers to act.

Our study focuses on supermarket owner-operators' perceptions of the degree of environmental upheaval and, as a result, of human resources. Through our research, we hope to determine if there is a relationship between the degree of environmental upheaval as perceived by supermarket owner-operators in the major grocery store chains and how the latter regard their human resources. A questionnaire was malled to owner-operators of 800 supermarkets belonging to the Provigo (175), Metro-Richelieu (300) and IGA (225) chains. The response rate was 35 %(280/800). The fact that respondents had to be either the sole owner of the business, and equal partner, majority shareholder or minority shareholder explains the 56 %non-return rate. We were thus left with 122 questionnaires on which to base our study.

The sampling error, where n = 122 and N = 800 with a correction factor of n/N > 10%, is approximately 4.1 % for the perception of each of the primary and secondary criteria. For the "environment" variable, we noted how the current state of upheaval was perceived and, when significant trends were observed, we examined the perceptions of and attitudes toward employees in relation to the impact of environmental upheaval on the company, the demand for products, the changing consumer demand with regard to service quality and the pace of technological change.

In light of the results obtained, our analysis seems to reveal certain theoretical advances. For instance, owner-operators who consider the company's environment relatively stable, feen environmental upheaval has only a slight impact on the company, believe there is decreasing demand for products, consider that consumer demand for quality service is levelling off or dropping, and think technological change is occurring at an average pace or slowly, seem to place more importance on their human resources than other owner-operators. Moreover, they seem to desire a longer employeremployee relationship and consider it important to increase employee's skills by providing training.

The only perceptions found in existing literature and confirmed by our research are those concerning the relationship between the decision-making process and owneroperator perception of the current state of environmental upheaval. This is also true of the relationship between certain activities designed to increase employee output and owner-operator perception of environmental upheaval, its impact on the company, and changing consumer demands with regard to service quality.

Given these findings, it would definitely be worthwhile conducting a field study to verify the actual attitudes and behaviour of owner-operators toward personnel, which would in turn allow us to conduct a more exhaustive verification of certain theories advanced in literature on human resource management.