Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to arrive at a general definition of an HPO and a (practical) way to measure an HPO. Managers are looking for techniques to strengthen their organizations in a way that they cannot only cope with threats but could also quickly take advantage of opportunities, and thus, grow and thrive. The academic and especially the practitioner fields reacted on this ‘‘thirst for high
performance knowledge’’ with a plethora of books and articles on the topic of high performance organizations (HPOs). These publications each came with their own description and measurement of HPOs, which created a lot of confusion among practitioners.
Design/methodology/approach – In this study the following research question is answered: how can an HPO be defined and its performance measured? So that with the answer, this paper can take away the aforementioned confusion. This paper does this by conducting an extensive systematic review of the literature on HPO, after which this paper synthesizes the findings into a proposal on how to define and measure the HPO.
Findings – This paper was able to obtain from the literature a list of definitions and measurements for an HPO. The common denominator in these definitions and measurements turned out to be respondents given their opinion on the effects of the organizational practices they apply on organizational performance vis-a`-vis that of competitors. This paper concluded therefore that an HPO should be defined and measured relative to competitors and should be based on the perception of managers and employees of the organization: An HPO is an organization that achieves results that are better than those of its peer group over a longer period of time.
Research limitations/implications – With the answer on the research question, this paper fills the current gap in the definition and measurement literature on HPOs, and thus, has moved the research into HPOs forward, as researchers can use these research results in their future studies on high performance and HPOs.
Originality/value – Although there is a plethora of literature on high performance and HPOs no univocal definition and measurement of the HPO can be found. This study provides for the first time an academically well-founded definition and measurement method.
Keywords – HPO, Measurement, High performance organization, Definition