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The quest for efficiency : role of human resource management in public sector reforms in Uganda : a thesis presented in fulfilment of the requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy in Development Studies at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
The context of this thesis is the development strategy of public sector reforms and privatisation. It uses Uganda as a case study, and argues for the need to integrate the issue of human resource management in the privatisation discourse in developing countries. Public sector reforms arose out of neo-liberal thinking that argues against state intervention and recommends market led economic growth. Privatisation is part of the attempt to scale back on the role of the state in economic development and has been integrated in the development policies of developing countries through the structural adjustment programs of the IMF and World Bank. It is required because of the belief that the private sector is more efficient in allocation and use of resources and is therefore the best medium for attaining development goals. Private sector companies in the developed countries which utilise modern techniques of management are comparatively more efficient than their public counterparts. Globalisation and market competition forced organisations to search for ways to be competitive and this partly led to organisations elevating human resource management issues to a strategic level because of the belief that a company's workers add value that make firms competitive. When privatisation is made a requirement by the multilateral aid agencies for developing countries it is based on the assumption that the conditions that make public enterprises inefficient do not exist in the private sector. No empirical evidence is available to confirm or refute these assumptions, particularly in the case of Africa's developing nations. This thesis has contributed to this area by examining the human resource management practices of seven Ugandan organisations, three public, two private and two privatised. The aim was to find out whether there are differences in the way in which private and public organisations manage their employees and if their practices are those associated with effective management of human resources. The practices that were examined were recruitment and selection of staff, training, compensation and employee attitudes. The results from this study did not provide evidence that the differences that were exhibited in the seven organisations were related to ownership. Rather they seem to be determined by the values and culture of managers and the labour market conditions in Uganda. Both private and public enterprises exhibited practices that human resource management literature and practice consider as obstacles to efficiency