The Importance of Context in the ‘High Performance Work Systems’ Research: A Study on Bangladeshi Banking Industry

Sardana Islam Khan


The importance of both internal and external context in the selection of business practices has been emphasised in many recent studies in the High Performance Work Systems (HPWS) area. This paper argues that all western-style HR practices may not necessarily improve performance; irrespective of an organisation‟s strategic context. This study has demonstrated the importance of context in HPWS studies, and more specifically in the Bangladeshi banking sector. This qualitative study used information from secondary sources and interviews of nineteen local industry experts. The results show that political influence, corruption, history of inter-locked exchanges, and the consequent interference of local and external regulatory bodies on the internal operation of banks have had counteracting impacts on their HR systems. Moreover, determining how a particular bank manages and interacts with the same set of external factors depends on the internal context of the bank. Therefore, an in-depth understanding of both internal and external context seems vital for predicting and explaining the findings of any future HPWS research in the context of Bangladeshi banking industry. There is a gap in the HPWS literature relating to non-western contexts, especially the South Asian underdeveloped countries. The context of this study is substantially different from both developed western countries and other developing Asian countries. Choosing Bangladesh as representative of the forty-nine least developed but economically most promising (N-11) countries, will contribute to the HPWS literature by providing a rare non-western empirical evidence for future academic researchers and HR practitioners. Only 19 experts have been interviewed for the study. The participants predominantly belong to two purposively selected banks in Bangladesh. A wider coverage of data using multiple methods would probably provide a more rounded view of the topic. However, extensive uses of secondary sources of data and researcher‟s observation have ensured reliability and validity of the findings

Aus. J. Bus. Sco S. & IT. Vol 1(1), October 2015, P 51-72


Context; High Performance Work Systems; Bangladeshi banking sector; International Strategic Human Resource Management; least developed countries

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