High-performance work systems (HPWSs), a large firm model, have recently attracted interest within small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). In addition, institutional settings have been shown as an important determinant in the types of human resource management (HRM) practices adopted by employers. This paper progresses these topics through a comparative analysis of SMEs within Cote d'Opale/Nord Pas de Calais (French) and Kent (UK) regions. Clear divergence is evident in the nature of HPWS. Whilst UK SMEs are found to adopt a wider range of practices, French firms exhibit a higher degree of integration portrayed through a collective range of practices that engender employee participation and commitment.