HRM Research in Pakistan: Existing Approaches and Future Directions

Research Article

Many have highlighted the importance of a context-based understanding of HRM in developing countries. We take stock of Pakistan-based HRM literature to examine its context-orientation. Based on the typology of Neuman (2000), we divide the literature into three streams--the positivist, the interpretivist, and the critical. Our analysis reveals that the positivist stream endorses the adoption of Western HRM practices in Pakistan without considering its differences from the West, whereas, the critical stream takes a cynical stance towards the very existence and function of HR departments in Pakistan, thereby undermining the importance of any improvements in the prevailing systems. The interpretive stream, on the contrary, studies the role of national cultural context in shaping HRM practices in Pakistan and provides relatively more promising knowledge for MNCs to craft their strategies in cultures like Pakistan. However, the analysis of existing interpretivist research is entirely based on old assumptions about the context of Pakistan being characterized as highly collectivist and masculine, unconducive for learning and change, and having a strong propensity for submission to authority and power. We suggest that increased attention towards interpretive approach will enhance context-based understanding of HRM in Pakistan, which will consequently be more useful for local organizations as well as MNC subsidiaries operating in the country. Furthermore, we highlight the cultural and political metamorphosis of Pakistan, providing a strong impetus for a fresh look at the core assumptions about the national context, and discuss its implications for studying HRM in Pakistan.

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