Two Decades of Post-Socialism in Serbia: Lessons Learned and Emerging Issues in Human Resource Management*

By Milikic, Biljana Bogicevic; Janicijevic, Nebojsa et al. | Journal for East European Management Studies, October 1, 2012 | Go to article overview
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Two Decades of Post-Socialism in Serbia: Lessons Learned and Emerging Issues in Human Resource Management*


Milikic, Biljana Bogicevic, Janicijevic, Nebojsa, Cerovic, Bozidar, Journal for East European Management Studies


The success and speed of transition processes in post-socialist countries produced quite different results regarding theirs institutional and economic systems. As far as Human Resources Management (HRM) practices are concerned, the main challenge for managers in these countries seem to be how to efficiently replicate HRM practices from the Western capitalistic countries, taking into account the fact that there are considerable differences in institutional, cultural and economic contexts. A few available empirical studies from Serbia revealed mixed findings suggesting that there are evident signs of both forces - the convergence and the divergence of HRM practices in Serbia compared to the Western ones. The aim of this paper, therefore, is to investigate HRM practices in Serbia, in order to shed light on some emerging issues in HRM, which may be of significance regards further studies.

Der Erfolg und die Geschwindigkeit von Übergangsprozessen in ehemals sozialistischen Ländern produzieren relativ unterschiedliche Ergebnisse im Hinblick auf ihr institutionelles und wirtschaftliches System. Bezüglich der HRMPraktiken scheint die größte Herausforderung für Manager in diesen Ländern zu sein, wie man effizient HRM-Praktiken aus westlichen Ländern, unter Berüchichtigung der unterschiedlichen institutionellen, wirtschaftlichen und kulturellen Kontexte, anwenden kann. Einige verfügbare Studien aus Serbien ergaben unterschiedliche Ergebnisse im Bezug auf die Existenz von beiden Kräften - Konvergenz und Divergenz - der HRM-Praktiken in Serbien im Vergleich zu westlichen Ländern. Das Ziel dieses Artikels ist, HRM-Praktiken in Serbien zu untersuchen, um einige weitere Fragen der HRM zu beleuchten, die möglicherweise von großer Bedeutung für weitere Studien sein könnten.

Keywords: transition, human resource management practices, crossvergence, transvergence

Introduction

Transition towards a free-market economy and the entry of foreign companies on the Eastern European markets have encouraged companies in these countries to commence management technologies and to apply tools universally recognized and established in developed market economies. Within relevant literature there is a lack of comprehensive studies relating to HRM practices in the Central and Eastern European transition economies (Zupan/Kase 2005: 883). This shortage of applicable empirical studies makes the challenge of introducing HRM systems and practices for the managers in these countries even greater having in mind that there are many critical differences between developed countries" and Eastern European transition economies" institutional contexts which may inhibit convergence (Sparrow/Hiltrop 1994; Holden 2001). Nonetheless, as suggested in the literature, the scope and speed of the transition process appear to be the key for changing the institutional or the "external HR context" (Zupan/Kase 2005). However, success and speed of transition processes in different post-socialist countries, measured by the speed and the nature of privatization and corporate restructuring, the scope and extent of liberalization and degree of macroeconomic stabilization, produced rather diverse results regarding their institutional and economic systems. As the transition process is moving ahead, the institutional context will radically change towards Western developed market economies and will become an inevitable drive towards homogenization (DiMaggio/Powell 1983), so it may be expected that the organizations will change the dominant traditional personnel management concept towards comprehensive application of the HRM concept applied in industrialized Western capitalistic countries.

In this paper we attempt to investigate HRM practices in Serbia, after two decades of post-socialism, in order to shed light on lessons learned and open issues in HRM. Firstly, we investigate whether some changes occur in the area of HRM as related to the post-socialist period.

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