Resisting global universalistic practices - the endurance of culture and particularism in African HRM

Journal article


Opute, J., Hack-Polay, D. and Rahman, M. (2020). Resisting global universalistic practices - the endurance of culture and particularism in African HRM. Journal of Work Applied Management. 12 (1), pp. 55-68.
AuthorsOpute, J., Hack-Polay, D. and Rahman, M.
Abstract

Purpose
This article empirically assesses the extent to which factors rooted in the cultural and institutional framework in sub-Saharan African organisational contexts challenge and resist the penetration of global practices and how these dynamics impact on human resource management (HRM). This article examines whether universalistic perspectives are significant for African HRM. The article discusses the tensions between the contributions derived from local and historical factors and that of other environmental agents to African HRM practice.

Design/methodology/approach
The study is based on a survey among 100 practising African HRM executives representing significant organisations in sub-Saharan Africa.

Findings
The main findings established that in spite of westernisation and globalising trends in learning and development in Africa, human resource practices are still profoundly embedded in the African cultural fabric. Significant elements of cultures in sub-Saharan Africa pervade organisational processes; such aspects include collectivism and paternalism, which persistently resist change. The article, however, concludes that the resisting parts of sub-Saharan African cultures which are viewed as counterproductive can have positive resonance if constructively deployed.

Originality/value
This article contributes to African HRM literature, a significantly under-researched field. The paper provides an opportunity for African HR managers to be more pragmatic in identifying the contextual issues and aspects of African culture that could be value-adding in a fast-changing managerial field. The findings demonstrate that human resource strategies and policies have specific cultural orientations and reflect the societal predispositions of a particular collectivity; this epitomizes the intertwining of cultural paradigms, political spheres and organisational life in sub-Saharan Africa.

KeywordsCulture; Normative; Social Influence; Globalisation; HR Practices
Year2020
JournalJournal of Work Applied Management
Journal citation12 (1), pp. 55-68
PublisherEmerald
ISSN2205-2062
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1108/JWAM-11-2019-0032
Publication dates
Print08 Apr 2020
Publication process dates
Accepted03 Jan 2020
Deposited10 Feb 2020
Accepted author manuscript
License
File Access Level
Open
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