Given the dearth of reported studies on Iranian HRM policies and practices, the present chapter focuses on major external macro factors which make up the context of Iranian organisations. It also discusses their implications for micro-level HRM policies and practices. Available studies conducted in Iran at different times are used to paint the picture. The term HRM has not yet taken root in Iran, therefore, in this chapter the term is used to denote the broad personnel function.
This chapter initially details factors which constitute Iran’s national context and national character (such as geography, ecology, political and economic institutions, foreign trade, religion and history). Then it highlights the main work-related values and attitudes in Iran. This is followed by a section on HRM in Iran and, finally, concluding remarks are made.
Iran, situated in the Middle East, almost at the centre of Asia, is the seventh largest country in the world in terms of land mass (1,648,000 sq km). It is situated between the Caspian Sea in the north and Persian Gulf in the south. It has land borders with Iraq, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the former USSR republics of Turkmenistan, Armenia and Azerbaijan. The neighbouring countries have over the centuries influenced and been influenced by Iranian culture. Currently the ethnic composition of the nation is: Persian 51 per cent, Azerbaijani 24 per cent, Gilaki and Mazandarani 8 per cent, Kurd 7 per cent, Arab 3 per cent, Lur 2 per cent, Baloch 2 per cent, Turkmen 2 per cent, and others 1 per cent.
The country’s population, estimated at over 66 million in 1998, is a young one with 44 per cent under 14 and about 4 per cent over 65 years of age. The literacy rate is around 72 per cent, with the rate being higher in urban areas than rural regions and slightly higher among men than women.
The climatic and other physical conditions of the environment within which a community lives do have some bearing on the way it evolves as a culturally coherent group (Tayeb, 1996). Some of the Arian tribes who, thousands of years ago, migrated from Central Asia and settled in Iran, faced harsh variable seasons, salt