Learner’s Submission: The Importance of Strategic Human Resource Management to the Performance of the Public Sector and Sustainable Development: Case Study from Ethiopia

“Human resource is the primary framework for sustainable development. This is because of the fact that the public service performance heavily relies on the capacity of the individual servants. Every aspect of development is undertaken while this valuable resource is managed in its appropriate way. In its simplest sense, human resource management is the integration of human resource policies and practices with organizational strategies, a holistic; coordinated approach to policies and practices for managing people at work; a primary focus on the individual employee as opposed to the collective relations within the organizations; strong organizational value and culture emphasizing a sustainable match between the values of employees and the organization, whereby key elements of HR add value to the organization and returns on investment is simultaneously achieved (Storey, J. 1992).As an indispensable asset that could shoulder the biggest possible responsibility in terms of transforming the performance of the public service sector in particular and the eventual transformation of the nation in general, the strategic management of human resource, is increasingly becoming compulsory, particularly for those of African countries.

As one of the African countries, Ethiopia, with untapped potential of vast young human resource, has to give due emphasis to the sector. As many of the African countries,in Ethiopia too, the implementation of sustainable development programmes is mostly regulated by public institutions. This implies that, if the public service is found to be incapable of formulating and implementing strategies, it is more likely that the various efforts to eradicate absolute poverty and protecting the well-being of citizens will be unrealistic. As it is obvious, Ethiopia is one of the countries registered as successful in terms of accomplishing most of the millennium development goals. This success could be attributed to having motivated and capable public servants that are critical assets in sustaining progress and achieving the aforementioned development goals. However, this does not mean that Ethiopian public sector human resource is without limitations. Some of these hindrances for having strategic human resources management are listed below.

Significant Challenges for Strategic Human Resource Management in Ethiopia

  1. Absence of Professionalism

As of the definition of the Oxford Dictionary of English (2003), professionalism could be inclusive of both the competence and skills expected of a professional and the practice of an activity, by professionals rather than amateur players. In this regard, many argued that, public sector efficiency and its effectiveness in achieving desirable outcomes can only be realized if the nation has a motivated and satisfied public sector employee. In fact, management is partially an art. However, the science part should not be underestimated so as to deliver the right service to the right stakeholder, at a right time. Therefore, an individual with a proximity to a certain discipline may contribute better than of the opposite.

  1. Persistent and Endemic Corruption

Whatever the severity and types of Corruption, it is prevalent in almost all countries in the world. What exacerbates it is low payment, which in every measure could not afford the lively hood of public servants. The situation is always at the apex of talks and a usual complains behind Ethiopian public servants. It is better to call it, “un heard voices”. The only option is to go to the evil. It must be clear that no one is unaware of corruption and how much is it unethical; and preventive approach to corruption protection through educating the people is unviable way.

  1. Educational status of the employee

Now days, the public service requires deployment of skilled, flexible and effective human resources, who grasp the needs of the immediate customer i.e. the citizens and can translate them into sound policies and strategies. However, getting this kind of human resource in Ethiopian public service is increasingly challenging. This is partly because of the gap that, a significant number of employees in the public service assume a position with little or no experience. Once employed, they upgrade their educational status, with a little attention, in very weak distance education centers, without grasping what is basically required from a certain education level. This situation is responsible for lack of good governance in the various public institutions in the country.” – Mohammed Yimer – Arba Minch, Ethiopia


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