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Since
2005, there have been many developments in the Malaysia’s economy such as price
inflation, structural changes and change in business trends. Due to that cases,
the rapid development in technology, intense competition, and increased
globalization essentially redesigning the external environment of the business,
making it more dynamic, complex, and ambiguous for business administration. In
some countries, like Malaysia, where the institutional environment has changed
dramatically, fluctuations have challenged business leaders. In this context,
strategic HR flexibility can allow businesses to adjust such situations, where
the strategic HR flexibility has begun to be considered as an important
research area.

            Strategic HR flexibility refers to
the firm’s ability to respond and adapt to environmental changes, and to
develop strategic flexibility, organizations need to implement High Performance
Work Practices (HPWPs). High Performance Work Practice (HPWP) is a workplace
initiative aimed at improving productivity and performance and contributing to
the competitiveness and sustainability of an organization. HPWPs focus on
creating involved and empowered workforce, that consist of training,
empowerment and reward, that can increase output and ultimately provide rapid
growth. In this study, we will be focusing on Malaysia organizations that
practice strategic HR flexibility that implement High Performance Work
Practices (HPWP), resulted to better firm performance. This study also
interested in the role of gender-based leadership in this relationship.

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            While strategic HR flexibility is
beneficial for businesses in a dynamic environment, developing and maintaining
strategic HR flexibility will also call unique leadership that supports
appropriate operating practices and policies to support strategic HR
flexibility. As a top attribute of top management, leadership provides
strategic variation such as vision, motivation, role modeling, and social
values that strategically develop an organization. To build strategic HR flexibility,
a certain leadership in particular leadership that is versatile and thoughtful will
overcome the rigid and ignorant. This provides a promising direction to study
the leadership’s impact on strategic HR flexibility from gender-based
determination as it deals with gender-based leadership.

            According to Johan Merican and
Shareen Ghani (2017), back in 2011, the Malaysia’s government announced a
target for the corporate sector to push for women to represent 30% of
decision-making positions by the end of 2016. Yet, as of June 2016, women
accounted for only 15.2% of director positions in the top 100 listed companies
on Bursa Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange). While women are significantly
underrepresented in the boardroom and as chief executive officers (CEOs), there
are increasingly more women in top management. Based on the 2015 Bursa annual
returns, women accounted for 26.3% of top management across all listed
companies. This is progress shows there has been significant progress in the
representation of women in achieving the corporate sector’s 30% target.

 

1.2 PROBLEM STATEMENT

The
paper reports an investigation conducted in Malaysia. As the rapid development
in technology, intense competition, and increased globalization, Malaysia
organizations today are facing more challenges to adjust such situations. Thus,
conducting a study for strategic flexibility, high performance work practice (HPWP)
and gender-based leadership should provide useful knowledge in how they
successfully impact firm performance. Unfortunately, such study is rarely being
discuss in the literature in fields of strategic HR flexibility, high
performance work practice (HPWP) and gender based leadership. Therefore, this
research intends to fill such gap in the literature as relevant to all this
three fields.

 

1.3 RESEARCH QUESTION

Specifically,
we sought to find answers to these following questions:

What is the relationship between strategic
HR flexibility and high performance work practice (HPWP)?
What is the relationship between high
performance work practice (HPWP) and firm performance?
How high performance work practice
(HPWP) mediates the relationship between strategic HR flexibility and firm
performance?
How gender based leadership moderates
the relationship between strategic HR flexibility and firm performance?
How gender based leadership moderates
the relationship between strategic HR flexibility and high performance
work practice (HPWP)?

 

1.4 RESEARCH OBJECTIVES

This
study aims to achieve the following objectives:

To determine the relationship between
strategic HR flexibility and high performance work practice (HPWP).
To determine the relationship between
high performance work practice (HPWP) and firm performance.
To determine the high performance
work practice (HPWP) mediates the relationship between strategic HR flexibility
and firm performance.
To determine gender based leadership
moderates the relationship between strategic HR flexibility and firm
performance.
To determine the gender based
leadership moderates the relationship between strategic HR flexibility and
high performance work practice (HPWP).

 

1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

With
our research focus, this study made three contributions.

            First, the study will contribute to
the literature on strategic human resource management (SHRM) by examining firm
strategy from a fresh angle which is strategic HR flexibility. In our study, we
will conceptualize firm strategy as a continuum demonstrated as the firms’
focus on flexibility in manipulating multi-facet advantages. We will find that
organizations’ emphasis on strategic HR flexibility affects their adoption of high
performance work practice (HPWP). This new evidence will put the proposed
relationship between firm strategy and HRM on more solid ground.

            Second, the study trying to find
that strategic HR flexibility is a very important context for examining the
impact of high performance work practice (HPWP). In particular, we will find
that high performance work practice (HPWP) are either effective or not in mediating
the relationship between strategic HR flexibility and firm performance. This
finding will helps unpack the new view of knowledge on how firm strategy
affects firm performance through its influence on human resource management. We
will rationalize a possible role played by high performance work practice
(HPWP) in the relationship between strategy flexibility and firm performance by
verify it with our data.

            Lastly, by incorporating female
leadership in the relationships among strategy HR flexibility, high performance
work practice (HPWP) and firm performance, we extend the previous research in a
new direction that has never been explored. While we did not find a moderating
effect by CEO gender on the strategy-HR relationship in Malaysia case study,
the empirical results demonstrate that female leaders matter in the
relationship between strategic HR flexibility and firm performance. The
evidence will show that the gender-based leadership is worthy of discussion in
exploring the relationships among strategic HR flexibility, high performance
work practice (HPWP), and firm performance in today dynamic businesses.

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