Human Resources Policies of Emerging Nations

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Human Resources Policies of Emerging Nations

BY Rajendra Prasad Koirala

The last 20 years have seen an increasing recognition of the importance of human resource management (HRM) in both academia and industry. Consequently, a significant amount of literature has been written on the subject. This has also led to the emergence of new academic fields, such as strategic and international human resource management.

In the twenty-first century, the ability of managers to understand the dynamics of HRM in diverse regions of the world will greatly impact their performance. This is due to the rapid globalisation of business and the growing significance of emerging markets. While there is a wealth of information available on HRM practices in industrialised nations, there is limited data on the dynamics of HRM in developing countries. Global executives have come to recognise that HRM strategies vary greatly from one country to another, and solutions that work in one country may not be applicable elsewhere. With the increasing importance of developing countries in the global economy, as suppliers of low-cost resources, buyers, competitors, capital users, and the homes of a majority of multinational corporations' foreign direct investments, it is crucial for both academics and practitioners to understand how human resources are managed in these countries.

Managing human resources in developing nations presents complex and demanding challenges. Academics can play a significant role in this field by providing critical information to researchers and policymakers. It is essential for business students, as future leaders in the corporate world, to be aware of the unique challenges associated with HRM in developing nations.

In many developing countries, employee relations practices within businesses are influenced by social and cultural values, religious beliefs, caste- and ethnicity-based stratification, political allegiances, and economic power. These factors have an impact on internal labour market (ILM) structures, which often foster corruption and bureaucratic hurdles, ultimately affecting organisational performance. As a result of ongoing changes in most developing countries, such as privatisation and structural adjustment programs, HRM systems need to be compatible with rationalised, objective, and systematic employment systems.

Human resources play a significant role in the economy of a nation, as they contribute to increased productivity and the effective utilisation of other resources. Investments in human capital, such as healthcare, education, and training, yield positive returns. Human resource development, by enhancing the generation of human capital, can contribute to higher per capita income for a nation. The transfer of knowledge also has the potential to enhance worker productivity and, consequently, increase per capita income. HR policies are crucial for the successful implementation of an organisation's HR strategy. They promote transparency and consistency for both managers and employees, strengthening the psychological contract and fostering a positive company culture.

Dunning (2006) argues that the human environment of enterprises and nations is often overlooked in international business research, which tends to focus more on the physical assets of organisations and governments. The human environment is the source of knowledge, which is “the most important motivator for economic advancements'', according to the study. The “human environment” is defined as “skills and abilities those assets hold inside a given place” (Zhu, 2011). These assets include “creativity leading to innovation; experience, skills, and knowledge of employees”.

As a result, the success of a business or an organisation is greatly influenced by how it manages its human resources (HR), which are derived from the human context in which it operates (Barney, 2001; Kong &Thomson, 2009). While there has been considerable attention given to HRM as a competitive advantage in commercial settings, there is limited research on how HRM practices in government affect a nation's competitiveness.

Regardless of whether an entity is for-profit, nonprofit, or governmental, its human resources are a vital asset. Effective management of resources helps businesses achieve their goals and develop competitive advantages. Research suggests that success stems from the implementation of interconnected HRM strategies, rather than relying on a single approach. High-performance work systems (HPWS) encompass various HRM practices, including hiring, selection, training, performance management, and compensation. HPWS, in their broadest sense, aims to enhance overall organisational performance by fostering worker commitment and involvement in achieving the company's objectives.

Citing studies, Huang, Ahlstrom, Lee, Chen, and Hsieh claim that HPWS yields better results compared to conventional HR tactics. HPWS aims to establish integrated business processes that do not treat HR and other business units as separate entities. It encourages managers and employees to collaborate in ways that are mutually beneficial and advantageous to the overall organisation. Chopra & Chopra also support the idea that HPWS leads to exceptional human capital, which is vital for organisational success. HPWS has been found to enhance employee morale, foster innovation, and drive profitability.

Recruitment is a critical function of HRM, and it involves the process of attracting and selecting top individuals for a job or company. However, recruitment is not a static activity or concept; it is influenced by the environment in which it takes place. Factors such as the size, skills, and educational levels of the available labour pool impact the strategies employed in recruitment. Additionally, religious and cultural differences can also influence hiring practices.

With globalisation, population diversity has increased, and nations are realising the need to reflect this diversity in their civil service. Organisations may employ both internal and external recruitment strategies based on the environmental changes they face. Recruitment practices should be adaptable to meet the evolving needs of the company, considering the dynamic nature of the operating environment.

It is important to recognise that what works for one business may not necessarily apply to another (Lavigna & Hays, 2004). Therefore, businesses, especially those in the public sector, need to carefully consider their operational environment and desired goals when developing and implementing a recruitment plan.

Hiring procedures in Singapore 

Singapore is one of the nations whose public sector has contributed significantly to its economic success. Often referred to as a "brain gain nation," Singapore's ability to attract, recruit, and retain top talent has provided it with a competitive advantage over public sectors of other countries. The utilisation of various recruitment strategies plays a key role in Singapore's success in attracting top individuals to the public sector. There are four main approaches employed in Singapore to identify local talent: open recruiting, pre-service scholarships, green harvest, and scouting and headhunting. These diverse hiring practices allow Singapore's civil service to expand its talent pool, resulting in a more skilled and formidable workforce. For example, the Public Service Commission (PSC) of Singapore offers scholarships to incentivise highly talented individuals to pursue careers in the public sector. Recipients of these scholarships are required to work in the civil service for a specific period after graduation. What sets these scholarships apart is that there is no restriction on the field of study, creating an open competition and attracting applicants from a wide range of disciplines. This is just one of the strategies employed by Singapore to attract exceptional individuals to the public sector.

Although this isn’t always true, research has shown that diverse workforces tend to outperform homogeneous workforces in terms of productivity (Oliveira & Scherbaum, 2015). This is because a homogeneous workforce may experience groupthink, in which everyone on the team has an implicit understanding; as a result, innovation, new ideas, and improvement may be stifled (Oliveria & Scherbaum 2015). As a result, organisations generally benefit from fostering diversity in their workforce. Singapore's public sector has recognised the importance of a diverse workforce and has actively sought to attract top international talent alongside local expertise in order to cultivate a varied workforce.


Recruitment is undoubtedly one of the most crucial aspects of the HR process. The term "GIGO" (garbage-in-garbage-out), commonly used in manufacturing, holds true in recruitment as well. The individuals who join a company and, more importantly, those who are hired have a significant impact on everything that follows. Finding and retaining the right employees is vital because the people who work for a company shape every aspect of it. No matter how well-designed the policies, strategic plans, or business opportunities are, success cannot be achieved without the right people in place - individuals who possess the appropriate HR skills for the tasks at hand. When the right people are in place, they can develop strategic plans, formulate and implement policies, and, if necessary, create or enter a successful sector. Hence, businesses must carefully select suitable candidates for vacant positions to unlock the full potential of their HR departments.

Recruitment strategies serve as the foundation of any thriving enterprise. It is crucial to have the right employees in the right roles at the right time. Successful governments utilise recruitment strategies to attract qualified and motivated individuals. The implementation of effective government policies can transform a nation's economy from weakness to strength. Countries in the Asia-Pacific region, such as China, South Korea, Vietnam, and Singapore, highlight the importance of a robust and well-functioning civil service. These countries have achieved this by carefully selecting the right individuals through a well-executed recruitment process, placing them in key positions within the public sector. 

(Koirala is a PhD scholar. He can be reached for comments at [email protected])

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