Academic journal article Iranian Journal of Management Studies

Human Resource Management in the Public Sector: An Investigation into the Iranian Ministries

Academic journal article Iranian Journal of Management Studies

Human Resource Management in the Public Sector: An Investigation into the Iranian Ministries

Article excerpt

Introduction

Human resource management plays an important role particularly in contributing to democracy, transparency and meritocracy in public administration (Woodard, 2005). Public organization's performance, in particular, depends excessively on competencies of its human resources (Pynes, 2008). A number of characteristics make the public sector particularly distinctive and interesting with respect to human resource management. In the public sector, activities are by far regulated by the laws, regulations, and procedures; decisions are influenced by political and informal procedures; objectives are often multiple, vague, and politicized which, all in all, make their measurement specifically difficult (Baldwin & Farley, 2001); and last but not least, the employment process, specifically in the case of top managers, is based on appointment rather than election; and the organizational structure is often centralized (Bissessar, 2001).

The aforementioned issues in public organizations are even more dramatic, complicated and problematic in the developing countries. As Boxall (1994) noted, although the nature of human resource management (HRM) has been transmitted from the reactive, administrative state to the proactive and descriptive practices, but such transition is hardly observed in the developing economies. In this sense, some researchers believed that despite considerable studies in the field of HRM across the world, most of them are focused on the industrialized and developed societies and the unique challenges and nuanced specificities of HRM in developing countries have received inadequate research attention (Budhwar & Debrah, 2013; Ghebregiorgis & Karsten, 2007).

HRM in Iran has been studied by a few authors to date (Namazie & Frame, 2007; Tayeb, 2001; Yeganeh, 2007; Yeganeh & Su, 2008); however, the notable gap remains to be that most of them have been carried out by the authors living outside of Iran. Given that western management thoughts and practices in general and HRM in particular, they are better to be appropriated in light of developing countries' culture, contextual nuances and specificities (Aycan et al., 2000), this paper aims to explore the contextual characteristics of HRM in the Iranian public organizations.

Despite several recent studies in the field of HRM, the context in which HRM is implemented is not researched sufficiently (Den Hertog et al., 2010). Furthermore, while the topics including strategic HRM or international HRM are hard to ignore, most of the studies are still devoted to general functions; whereas, the environmental factors are not considered sufficiently enough (Jackson & Schuler, 1995).This study corroborates with the ideas of macro-level similarities as well as cultural differences at the micro-level in governmental organizations (Namazie & Frame, 2007; Tayeb, 2001; Yeganeh, 2007; Yeganeh & Su, 2008).

Literature Review

Human Resource Management in Developing Countries

The majority of HRM studies have been conducted in the developed countries and there are still limited studies in this field in the context of developing countries (Yeganeh & Su, 2008). Budhwar and Debrah (2013) have carried out a specialized research and review on HRM in thirteen developing countries including China, South Korea, Taiwan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa; this study, however, has hitherto remained among the few comprehensive explorations of the matter and, as discussed, lacks sufficient contextual and cultural understanding of the settings particularly in the case of Iran.

The term developing countries refers to the societies experiencing the process of industrialization and setting stage for economic development (Budhwar & Debrah, 2013; Napier, 1998). Some scholars believe in similarities and common denominators in terms of management styles and cultural features amongst the developing countries (Azolukwam & Perkins, 2009). …

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