The research program Human Performance Management (HPM) focuses on the role of the human factor in operational processes. The driving force behind this program is the recognition that it is vital to develop and test theories that explain psychological processes at the organizational, group and individual levels within the context of operational processes/operations management. An optimal fit between humans and work will be achieved when both human and work aspects are integrally (re-)designed and (re-)developed to improve performance. On the human side, both competencies and motivation of human resources are relevant to the delivery of high-quality contributions to the realization of organizational and individual goals. On the work side, the technical, social-organizational and job conditions under which people deliver their contributions are relevant to the realization of both organizational and individual goals.
Nowadays, the HPM research program contains two key themes: (1) performance enhancement, and (2) organizational renewal. In the performance enhancement theme, the group is interested in the optimization of the contributions of humans to the performance of well-designed operational processes in a high-technological work environment (e.g., in the field of organizational behavior and human decision processes, stress, control, recovery, error and safety management, personality and performance measurement). In the organizational renewal theme, the focus of the group is on how ill-designed operational processes (including structure and culture) can be redesigned and restructured to give humans better opportunities to contribute.
A common theme that unites all the researchers within this research program is self-regulation. Ultimately, all researchers are interested in designing organizational and technical systems that facilitate, as opposed to hinder, self-regulation of individuals and groups in organizations. Only by creating optimal conditions for self-regulation can individuals and groups be expected to contribute to optimal performance in operational processes. Self-regulation theories - with a particular emphasis on functional self-regulatory processes such as goal setting, planning, and feedback - are used as the starting point for most of the research within this program, with the purpose of specifying the design requirements from a human perspective for a range of situations of differing complexity and uncertainty. Within this general framework, special attention is given to specific topics: the design of the elements of performance management systems; job stress; stress and recovery processes; task strategies, problem-solving, planning and control processes in performance improvement and timeliness; reward structures conducive to performance improvement; socio-technical design of information and work systems in assembly environments; work organization and project management in product creation processes; design, implementation and evaluation of self-managed workgroups; factors influencing recovery from failures; and effective team composition (also with regard to high-fidelity simulation training).
The research group has committed itself to making a high-quality contribution to the understanding of people at work in order to add new fundamental insights to the science of organizational behavior, and to doing research that has a societal impact in the sense that it makes a lasting positive contribution and a difference to the effectiveness, health and well-being of people at work. The group, in other words, wants to conduct theoretically sophisticated and practically usable psychological research to advance the theory and practice of human performance in organizations. To achieve this, the group draws inspiration from actual problems in organizations and always takes a theoretical (self-regulatory) approach to these problems. Our research always has two core objectives: the results should lead to scientific publications in high-impact journals and should also be useful to the organization in which the research was conducted (i.e. knowledge valorization). Projects of which the scientific value is doubtful are avoided to a large extent. Along with empirical research --- consisting of cross-sectional and longitudinal surveys, quasi-experimental field studies, daily surveys, action research, and laboratory experiments --- the group engages in purely theoretical work.
Research in this program complements the research on the design and control of operational processes in the more quantitatively-oriented research programs within Beta in that the role of the human is articulated. In that sense the research in this program is indispensable for the realization of Beta’s mission. This implies that we collaborate with internal researchers from the research institute, as well as with renowned external (i.e. national and international) researchers. The exchange and collaboration with scholars from abroad is stimulated and financially supported by both the research institute and the group.
Prof.dr. J. de Jonge, Prof.dr. E. Demerouti.
Senior researchers involved
Dr. T. Bipp, dr. F.M. van Eijnatten, dr. J.M.P. Gevers, dr.ir. P.A.M. Kleingeld, dr. S. Rispens, dr. H.F.J.M. van Tuijl.
In the ‘Performance Enhancement’ theme, special attention has been devoted to performance management systems; performance improvement and timeliness; job stress and stress and recovery processes; and work organization and project management in product creation processes. In addition, the concept of strategic dialogue was introduced and successfully tested to arrive at organizational goal coherence. This has led to several outstanding dissertations and high-impact journal articles. A previously developed process failure model focusing on human behavior was successfully extended to include organizational failure factors as well. Such models, developed in industry, are now also being applied to the domain of healthcare, contributing to a series of patient safety research projects in the USA, UK and Australia. This has also led to a dissertation and several journal articles. One project was launched dealing with the role of matching job resources in the job stress process, based on a newly developed and innovative job stress model (i.e. the Demand-Induced Strain Compensation - DISC - model). Due to the model’s increasing popularity and empirical justification in several countries, a new PhD project will be launched in the fall of 2008, dealing with an intervention study in healthcare based on the model’s assumptions. Furthermore, a special series in JOOP was devoted to the issue of matching (guest editors: K. Daniels & J. de Jonge). Another project about human recovery was initiated with regard to factors contributing to complete or partial recovery after failure occurrence, thus preventing or reducing the negative consequences of that failure. Four PhD projects are currently in the final write-up phase and various papers have already been submitted. Some of them have been published. Part of our research was embedded in a nation-wide program run by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) on Psychological Fatigue at Work, in which several universities and research institutes collaborated.
In the Organizational Renewal theme, there was special attention to the integration of logistic aspects into socio-technical systems design approach. We addressed to question of how production flows can be organized such that the control of production flows can be simplified. The answer to this question is relevant to complex and continuously and rapidly changing organizations. This theme has led to several publications. Part of this theme was funded by the European Community Framework and has resulted in a number of scientific publications, not only in our group, but also in other European research groups that participated in the program. Finally, within this theme, a PhD project was completed investigating the design, implementation and evaluation of self-managed work groups. This project was part of the nation-wide program on Psychological Fatigue at Work. Several journal articles about this project have been written and published. A new PhD project will be launched in the fall of 2008, dealing with the concept of 'job crafting' (i.e. a better understanding how people can be strengthened and enriched by their work).
National and international cooperation
We have a close cooperation with several prominent research institutes. This is also expressed in joint publications in international scientific journals and books. In the subprogram Performance Enhancement, there is close cooperation with M. Dollard of the University of South Australia, N. Kawakami and A. Shimazu of Tokyo University, J. Siegrist of Duesseldorf University, C. Dormann of Mainz University, K. Daniels of Loughborough University, P. Landsbergis of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine NY City, M. West of the Aston Business School, C. Saunders and R.D. Pritchard of Central Florida University, P. Vlerick of Ghent University, S. Mohammed of Pennsylvania State University, and W. Schaufeli of Utrecht University. Under the umbrella of risk management and occupational safety there is cooperation with H. Kaplan of Columbia University New York City, J. Battles of the Governmental Department of Health Care in Washington D.C., C. Shea of Atomic Energy Agency Technologies in the UK and J. Dye of SPRINT in Kansas City.
In the subprogram Organizational Renewal there is cooperation with G. Grote of ETH Zürich, P. Docherty, M. Kira and T. Bakström of the National Institute of Worklife in Stockholm, A. Shani of California Polytechnic State University, M. Cunha of the Universidado Nova de Lisboa, J. Figuera of Universidad Polytécnica de Madrid, L. Fitzgerald of The Consultancy in Denver Colorado, M. Frese of the University of Giessen, A. van der Zwaan of the University of Groningen and M. Kompier and H. Doorewaard of Radboud University Nijmegen.
Application of research and collaboration with industry
The societal and technological relevance of our research can also be judged by the number of organizations that are willing to participate in our research. As regards the theme Performance Enhancement, the research group had a long-standing relationship with Nashuatec, developing and implementing performance measurement and enhancement systems. The positive effects of these interventions were demonstrated in research. For Corus the concept of strategic dialogue was developed and successfully implemented. Research on contingent reward systems is conducted at NAM. ASML Veldhoven participated in a study about discrepancies in individual work plans and work execution. Timeliness of project teams is being studied in various ICT-companies, namely Atos Origin, Centric, CSS, Getronics, CapGemini, Iquip, Pink Roccade, and Simac ICT. The taxonomy of organizational, technical and human failures that was developed in our research group is widely and successfully applied in organizations in the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Ireland, United States, and Australia. Examples of organizations in the Netherlands are Lyondell, Exxon, Hoechst, DSM, Alysis Zorggroep Arnhem, Catharina Hospital Eindhoven, Maxima Medical Centre Veldhoven, and Elkerliek Hospital Helmond. Studies on the factors influencing recovery of failures are conducted both in the chemical process industry (Lyondell Chemie, Botlek and Nynas, Antwerpen) and in healthcare organizations (Reinier de Graaff Hospital in Delft, Alysis Zorggroep Arnhem).
With regard to the theme Organizational Renewal there is a long-standing relationship with Stork PMT, which was socio-technically redesigned with the help of our research group. A longitudinal research project was carried out to analyze the effects of 15 years of organizational development and change. The positive effects of autonomous workgroups on individual stress and performance were demonstrated in a study conducted at Albert Heijn and several healthcare organizations, in particular at Amsterdam Thuiszorg, Stichting de Wever in Tilburg, Stichting Valkenhof in Valkenswaard, Thuiszorg Kempenstreek in Veldhoven, Zorgcirkel Waterland in Purmerend, and Zorggroep Valent in Sassenheim.
The HPM research program will continue to focus on the role of the human factor in operational processes, investigating how organizations and technical systems can be designed and structured to give people maximum opportunities for high performance on the one hand, and how human performance can be controlled given certain organizational conditions on the other. Self-regulation will remain a key theme in our research. Many of the extant theories of human performance assume simple and stable operational processes and environments. However, more and more operational processes are characterized by complexity and uncertainty. New theories need to be developed to ensure that human performance is adequately and ‘humanly’ managed under these conditions. We propose that this may be achieved by creating optimal conditions for self-regulation on both the individual and group level. Thus, in the years to come, the group intends to focus on the optimal fit between human performance (including decision-making processes) and operational processes performance in high-tech work environments, in one major theme called performance enhancement. At the same time the group aims to strengthen its relationships with other recently launched research programs in the department. This has already resulted in successful PhD projects (e.g., collaborations with OPAC, IS and QRE). Other PhD proposals (such as implementation of new job stress models in practice and job crafting) are currently being developed, and are expected to be launched in the second half of 2008.
In accordance with the department’s policy, the program’s intention is to focus more on second tier and third tier research. Initiatives such as proposals for NWO’s innovational research (e.g., VENI, VICI) and European Research Grants have been taken. However, as fundamental research is not very attractive to industry partners in the short run, we believe first tier funding (PhD students included) will remain necessary for several years.