Human resource differentiation: A theoretical paper integrating co-workers' perspective and context

Rofcanin Y., Berber A., Marescaux E., Bal P. M., Mughal F., Findikli M. A.

HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT JOURNAL, vol.29, no.2, pp.270-286, 2019 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 29 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Doi Number: 10.1111/1748-8583.12224
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.270-286
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: Yes


This paper conceptualises "human resource (HR) differentiation" as a set of deliberate and differentiating HR practices across individuals within the organisation to address employees' unique work needs and preferences as well as reward them for their input. Despite the importance of HR differentiation, research has mainly focused on the recipients of such practices, overlooking the consequences of HR differentiation from co-workers' perspective. This is a significant omission because a growing concern suggests that HR differentiation might be a double-edged sword, as the presumed positive effects might only be confined to employees benefiting from it. Taking a first step, this paper offers a conceptual model that explains how co-workers of a focal employee, who is entitled to an advantageous outcome through HR differentiation, are likely to react, either positively by showing contentment or negatively by showing anger, with behavioural consequences towards the focal employee and organisation. In so doing, we rely on deontic justice theory and explore contextual conditions at the individual and team level under which co-workers react. As a result, our model can inspire future research by adopting a broader and more inclusive approach to HR differentiation, underlining the need for caution when implementing HR differentiation in a team setting.