Date of Award

2016

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Business and Law

First Advisor

Associate Professor Maryam Omari

Second Advisor

Professor Rowena Barrett

Third Advisor

Dr Megan Paull

Abstract

Human resource planning (HRP) is the management process that helps organisations prepare for the number of employees and the types of skills needed to achieve organisational goals and objectives. In short, the aim of HRP is to have the right people in the right place at the right time. However, unlike the private sector, HRP practices are not widespread in the public sector. Literature on the ways in which HRP is conducted in public sector organisations has been limited to date. While the process of moving from traditional models of public management to New Public Management (NPM), and the Resource-Based View (RBV) approach implies the need for emphasising the central role of the Human Resource Management (HRM) function, the question of how public-sector organisations implement HRP remains largely unanswered in the existing management literature.

The focus of this study was to explore the current practices of HRP in the Ministry of Education (MoE) in Oman, an unexplored context, in order to gain an understanding of good practice, and recommend further improvements. An interpretive case study methodology was adopted for this study which enabled the researcher to gain access to the tacit knowledge held by experienced practitioners who are involved in HRP processes in the MoE.

The analysis of data collected through interviews with key informants revealed that despite the implementation of some strategies, the MoE did not formulate or implement a comprehensive HRP approach. The focus for the MoE remains on operational and annual requirements with only few attempts made to incorporate HRP into strategic planning efforts or to involve HRP professionals in strategic planning processes. Strategic and operational HRP practices in the MoE have lagged the good practices highlighted in the literature. The results from this study also indicate that HRP professionals lack the ability, knowledge, and skills necessary to develop and implement effective HRP practices. The study found that HRP in the MoE is influenced by both external and internal factors. The external factors were government policies, the legal context, the labour market and the economy, while the internal factors included organisational structure and culture.

Through cross-comparison and alignment of MoE practices with those best practices identified in the literature, the key characteristics of good HRP practices in Oman’s MoE were identified. This study begins to address this issue by attempting to use RBV and NPM theories to explain how HRP practices are currently recognised and used in publicsector organisations. The implications of the study suggest that having HRP in place is conducive to improving the competitiveness of the organisation. Moreover, under the principles of NPM, the study has been able to show how people at both strategic and operational levels of public organisations adopt, develop and manage the new concept of strategic HRP to continually improve organisational performance. This calls for researchers and those interested in the theory to give particular attention to the development of the skills and competencies of HRP professionals, including the skills needed to explore the ways that HRP is used to achieve competitive advantage. Further, in order to facilitate the effective adoption and application of NPM reforms, efforts should be made to prepare public-sector organisations well in terms of their culture, policies, rules and regulations.

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