Can HRM Alleviate the Negative Effects of the Resource Curse on Firms? Evidence from Brunei


Purpose: The resource curse literature suggests that firms operating in non-oil and gas industries in petrostates face considerable challenges in securing competitiveness and sustaining themselves. Based on a firm level survey within a micro-petrostate, Brunei, this study explores the relationship between specific HR policies and practices and organisational performance, analysing, comparing and contrasting oil and gas with non-oil and gas sectors, and draws out the comparative lessons for understanding the potential and performance consequences of HR interventions in resource centred national economies. Design/methodology/approach: Data for this study was generated from a primary survey administered amongst the HR Directors in companies operating in all sectors in Brunei. A statistically representative sample size of 214 was selected. Findings: We confirmed that firms in the oil and gas sector indeed performed better than other sectors. However, we found that the negative effects associated with operating outside of oil and gas could be mitigated through strategic choices: the strategic involvement of HR directors in the affairs of the company reduced employee turnover and added positively to financial returns across sectors. Practical implications: Developing and enhancing the role of people management is still very much easier than bringing about structural institutional reforms: the study confirms that at least part of the solution to contextual difficulties lies within, and that the firm level consequences of the resource curse can be ameliorated through strategic choice. Originality/value: The nature of the present investigation is one of few studies conducted in South East Asia in general and in the context of Brunei in particular. It also contributes to our understanding whether HR interventions can ameliorate the challenges of operating in a non-resource sector in a resource rich country. Keywords: Human resources; employee turnover; perceived financial performance; resource curse theory; oil and gas sector

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oai:eprints.glos.ac.uk:4472Last time updated on 5/2/2017View original full text link

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