Learning to manage: development experiences of hospital frontline managers

Ashlea Kellner*, Keith Townsend, Adrian Wilkinson, Sandra A. Lawrence, David Greenfield

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


In high performing human resource management (HRM) systems, much responsibility for managing employees and associated processes is typically devolved to frontline managers (FLMs). Research indicates that undeveloped FLM HRM ability can impact performance, particularly in health-care organisations. We present the incidence and characteristics of HRM-oriented learning and development programs for FLMs in hospitals with high performing systems of HRM, and experiences of FLMs directly participating in them. We combine data from 50 Australian hospital accreditation reports with interviews from eight 'high performance HRM' cases. We find: almost all high performers develop FLM HRM ability; development programs are extremely diverse between hospitals and succession planning is deficient. While primarily focused on understanding ability, the study contributes to the ability, motivation, opportunity framework, proposing a model and new interrelationships between these variables in the FLM context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)505-522
Number of pages18
JournalHuman Resource Management Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016


  • AMO
  • front line managers
  • learning and development
  • HRM system
  • high performance

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