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About this book

This book explores the effective management of HR functions in an African context. While previous research has thoroughly explored central issues such as staffing, benefits, employee relations, and HR compliance, other topics such as appraisals, promotion, succession planning, and exits have rarely been considered. The author draws on empirical research and incorporates contextual issues such as technology, politics, culture, and economics to enrich readers’ understanding of HR in Africa’s emerging economies. By highlighting theoretical underpinnings while also placing emphasis on the practical relevance of HR issues, this book offers an insightful guide for students and scholars interested in HR and management in developing economies.

Table of Contents

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Introduction

Abstract
Labour relations took the central place in all the struggles for democracy and so the initial outcome of the democratic process was extended to the labour relations in many developing economies albeit this faced different contours (Nkomo in Organization 18: 365–386, 2011; Ayittey in Africa Betrayed. St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1992). Some of these are related to imperialism that took a prominent place in several African countries and robbed the continent of some key cultural underpinnings (Hack-Polay “Compassionate Investment?—Diaspora Contribution to Poverty Alleviation in Francophone West Africa” in African Diaspora Direct Investment: Establishing the Economic and Socio-cultural Rationale. Palgrave, London, 2018; Fanon in The Wretched of the Earth. New York, Grove Weidenfeld, 1963). This book is an exploratory effort on examining some of the perceived contextual issues that impact the management of some topical HR functions in most developing economies (with focus on Africa). The structure of the book is novel and captures the background, contemporary HR approaches, country perspectives, conclusions and implications as well as topical and discussion questions to capture the essence of each chapter. For many international students and multinational corporations with presence in Africa that are desirous to investigate appropriate approaches to managing the HR function, this book will serve as an outstanding ‘companion’ in the management of HRM.
John E. Opute

Chapter 2. Recruitment and Selection

Abstract
One central setback that is common with several organisations in many developing economies is the absence of established policies and procedures. This also extends to planning because there are various external factors that can impact on planning. For example, many organisations importing raw materials struggle with a workable time frame between placing of orders and arrival of the items in the factory. These organisations are therefore forced to juxtapose with seemingly unplanned recruitment and selection procedures such as word of mouth, particularly for lower cadre jobs. The HR function therefore contacts the respective departmental head requesting that qualified candidates be contacted. This approach indirectly creates a platform for unplanned paternalism and nepotism. For more senior positions, the procedure can be better managed because of the restricted numbers being recruited. However, deciding on a proper approach ignores the use of advertisement (which will ordinarily improve the number of possible applicants) but also translates to the problem of managing the huge number of prospective applicants. Most organisations are therefore faced with adopting an approach that can be likened to a policy of ‘whispering’ their vacancies rather than ‘advertising’ the same.
John E. Opute

Chapter 3. Training and Development

Abstract
If indeed training and development is a desirable HR function, it is more than urgently required in the workplace of many developing organisations. However, it is not necessarily for the purposes of equipping the employees for better output or contribution to organisational goals (which is desirable) but much more to address the basic issues of discovering themselves with the mission and vision of the organisation. Most employees have taken up their employment because they need to survive rather than out of a strong desire to take on a position that they are passionate about. In some cases, jobs have been offered based on social network (sometimes referred to as ‘connections’), so the successful applicant may not be ‘completely’ qualified for the position hence training and development becomes a source of ‘filling’ the seemingly lack of required competence. Consequently, training may be more suitable than development for some employees and vice versa and in some cases, both are required at specific periods. This therefore calls for challenging the employee to their career goals altogether.
John E. Opute

Chapter 4. Appraisal, Rewards and Promotion

Abstract
In the most simplistic way, appraisal is not for the purposes of saying ‘thank you’ to an employee but to say ‘what else’ can we do to make you a better employee? On the other hand, rewards and promotion which identifies its elements from the appraisal systems is envisioned to say, ‘thank you and well done’. One HR function that is greatly contested in several developing countries is the outcome from appraisal, rewards and promotions. On the one hand, it is believed people are favoured by their managers as a reward for loyalty or patronage and on the other hand, a reflection of the connection (meaning closeness) to ‘important’ people in the organisation. This extends to political patronage and nepotism. Whilst it may be difficult to eliminate this assertion, every organisation should aspire to put in place undoubtably established tasks and targets, and these should be made observable. Obviously, it is nice to promote but there should be a need for this. Many organisations fall for this as if motivation only comes through promotion.
John E. Opute

Chapter 5. Succession Planning

Abstract
This does not seem to be a common organisational norm in many African countries because it requires management time, effort and commitment. Culture is very critical here. Some cultures frown at too much futuristic planning on the assertion that the confronts of today is enough to worry about. Also, any intention that suggests an individual is being ‘groomed’ to take over from another could attract unnecessary rivalry so the succession plan must be kept closely to the heart of the HR function. The other trap that many organisations fall into is the belief that succession planning is for ‘old organisations’ and not for newly established organisations. However, it is of necessity that every organisation initiates succession planning as part of a business strategy. Some organisations devote a significant effort in team building activities as well as staff secondment activities across other divisions (and subsidiaries of the organisations) for senior members of staff as a means of preparing them for ‘succession planning’ where a prescribed approach becomes hardly manageable or sensitive.
John E. Opute

Chapter 6. Management of Disputes, Exits and Retirement

Abstract
There seems to be an inherent belief that the organisation is an extension of the family in several developing economies. It is believed that employees are the ones to decide when they separate from the organisation and not the organisation despite any reason the latter might wish to advance for the cessation of employment. Many employees do not look forward to retirement as it a cessation of earnings with only few organisations providing substantive pension benefits. Where these benefits are provided, they are hardly adjusted to reflect the economic circumstances of the country. However, where compromising is intolerable, a ‘soft landing’ is provided so, for example, instead of summary dismissal such separations are converted to terminations so that some form of benefits can still be earned by the offending employee. The cessation of employment in Africa attracts several implications and multiplier effects to the employee because of the ‘dependency syndrome’ in the society. The employee is regarded not only as the ‘bread winner’ for the immediate family but also to the extended family.
John E. Opute

Chapter 7. Conclusion

Abstract
From a broad perspective on the academic literature, there are some interesting debates and studies on employee perceptions of the HR practices and function albeit with limited focus on developing economies and the implications for future direction. This book addresses the HR function from current development of people management in Africa—cutting across politics, culture, the socio-economic and technological perspectives and persuasions. These contextual issues impact on the HR function in different dimensions across different business organisations and countries. Equally relevant is lessons for the international HR student and practitioner as well as the connectivity of the multinational corporations (sometimes significantly influenced by home country orientation) and ethnocentric persuasions. In providing a concluding note, attention is being drawn to the role of the respective government, the public and private sector organisations—mainly in Africa. Mention is also made of the obvious fallouts of the contextual issues and other associated issues—namely politics and economy, culture and the socio-economic environment, technology, collective bargaining, SMEs and the State, academic literature and research.
John E. Opute

Backmatter

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