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

Learner’s Submission: Human Capital in Nigeria’s Public Sector


“It is crucial to start this article by explaining what Human Capital is. This, I believe, will help in giving a better understanding of the analysis that will now follow.

As aptly explained by UNPAN, ‘Human Capital is not only people per se, but the collective sum of their attributes, life experience, knowledge, inventiveness, creativity, energy, and motivation they choose to invest in their work.’

It is not without a doubt that no country can develop beyond the capacity of its Public Service. Evidently, this is where Nigeria’s problem lies. Nigeria’s Public Service is fast becoming the most under-performing organisation in the world.  Looking several years back, Nigeria had a vibrant Public Service in the 1960s when independence just became a reality through to the 1980s; this was a period when the nation’s best university graduates vied for posts in the Public Service, a period when the Public Service was attractive. But things have changed completely; Nigeria’s Public Service is presently in total shambles, to put it mildly. It has become a hideout for the lazy, illiterate, semi-literate, etc. These are the attributes that have birthed the dysfunctional system in which the Nigerian people find themselves in.

In Nigeria of today, positions in the Public Service are no longer occupied by the qualified applicants but by those who have ‘connections’ with someone in the office where an applicant is needed, an act that is dangerous to the well being of the entire nation.

That is not all; one of the most unfortunate epidemics in Nigeria’s Public Service is the problem of Ghost Workers, a masked group of people who get paid without working. To this, The Point newspaper published an article which it titled: Ghost Workers and the Nigerian Project. Here is an abstract:

‘One Socio-economic cancer deeply eating into the fabrics of our national development agenda is the debilitating phenomenon of ubiquitous ghost workers, especially in the rank and file of the public sector. From the Local Government to Federal Ministries, Directorates and agencies, the story is pathetically that of a painful paradox where names of non-existent workers are used to stuff up the payroll as ghosts that draw salaries for doing nothing at a time when living, able and qualified youths are roaming the streets of major cities in the country in a forlorn search of employment opportunities.

Minister of State for Finance announced to a shocked nation and an ever astonished world last week that a total of 45,000 ghost workers who earned over N100 Billion had been uncovered from about 251 ministries, directorates and agencies through the application of the Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System, IPPIS.’

As the most valuable asset to the Public Service, there is need to revamp the overall efficiency and effectiveness of Human Resources to attract development. To achieve this, the following points are suggested as part of the steps that will facilitate reformation of Nigeria’s Public Service.

To achieve excellence, recruitment into the Public Service should be stritctly on merit. Without this, the whole reformation will amount to nothing.

Since a people’s livelihood depends on the outcome of their actions, public office holders should be accountable for every decision they make, financially and otherwise.

This is the fundamental problem in Nigeria’s Public Service. Political office holders have such huge influence that they often sneak people into any public office of their choice. This must be stopped if Nigeria is willing to restructure its Public Service for excellence.

Public Servants must receive first-class training to meet the nation’s developmental aspirations. This should be done often, using strategies employed by developed nations of the world.

Public Servants should be motivated from their salary to all their entitlements. If this is not done, it will be difficult to get the best from them.” – Elias Ozikpu – Lagos, Nigeria

Learner’s Submission” Public Service Human Resource Management for India’s Sustainable Development”


” Development performance of countries is heavily underpinned by the quality of public institutions. When public institutions perform well, it is primarily owing to the motivation, skills and integrity of the human capital and the quality of leadership. – From the World Public sector Report “Unlocking the Human Potential for Public sector Performance”, (p.v) UN/DESA, 2005.

India is the largest democratic country in the world. It is the seventh largest by area and second most populous country with roughly one-sixth of world’s population – of about 1.26 billion. India has many challenges such as poverty, illiteracy, corruption, rising crime, nasty politics etc.

Human resources are the individuals that make up the public service workforce. Often they are referred to as “human capital” because they are the greatest asset to the public service.  Human capital is not only people per se, but the collective sum of their attributes, life experience, knowledge, creativity, energy, and motivation they choose to invest in their work. It is imperative to develop and cultivate human capital in the public service to optimize its performance. Public service performance relies on the capacity of the individual servant.

Strategic Human Resource Management is critical to the public sector’s success. The public sector will only perform well if its people work at their best. And if the public sector performs well, it is better able to implement the various development programmes of the country, thus contributing to regional and global development.

At present there is large scope for the people in public service for malpractices and corruption. Reports of large scale corruption of crores of rupees involving government servants, businesses, political leaders, ministers, judges etc. are often published in local and national media. India ranks 94th among 177 countries in corruption perception index, with a Score of 36/100, as per report of Transparency International (2013).

Current Challenges in Public Service HRM in India

In India, the implementation of sustainable development programmes is mostly regulated by public institutions. A public service with low capacity is not able to lift the country from poverty in the path of well-being for all. Indian public servants therefore carry the responsibility to develop strategies and policies that facilitate progress in the country’s social and economic development. For this reason, motivated and capable public servants are India’s most critical asset in sustaining progress and achieving development goals.

Human Resource Management: Unlocking human capital

With public servants as the important asset to India’s public service, their performance is instrumental for India’s sustainable development. Therefore, the management of India’s public servants must be grounded in principles such as:

  1. An able public service work force is the prerequisite for meeting India’s developmental aspirations of the people.
  2. Knowledge, know-how, skills and attitudes of public servants are at the center of public institutions’ performance.
  3. HR managers are key players in ensuring that the public service has the human resources it needs to succeed.

The capacity of India’s public service to achieve development goals has yet to be fully realized. An essential stepping stone in this regard is recognizing and embracing public service HRM as a critical management function. If used as a key management tool, HRM allows the public service to strategically align its workforce with the country’s development objectives. As such, HRM can become a value creator and make a bottom-line difference for the public sector.

Sustainable development: Strategic framework for HRM

To achieve development, the public service should be staffed by public servants with the capacity to design strategies for policy analysis, formulation, monitoring and evaluation. To attract, nurture and retain such civil servants, sound human resource strategies are needed. These HR strategies must be grounded in the development objectives at the national, regional and global level. Under the able leadership of Sh. Narendra Modi, Prime Minister, India expects to excel in all spheres – services, manufacturing, infrastructure etc. in the next few years.” – Srihari Subudhi – New Delhi, India 

Learner’s Submission: Current Capacity of Public Service in Kenya


“There exist various definitions as to what the phrase ‘Human capital’ is. Since scholars do not necessarily seek to stand out from the rest for matters of glorifying themselves but refining the phrase for purposes of clarity whenever the phrase is used, I use Westphalem’s definition in this article. Westphalem defines Human capital as a combination of persons or groups’ knowledge, skills, competitiveness plus other desirable attributes that they acquire during their life and consequently use them to produce goods, services or ideas as desirable in a market situation (Westphalem, 1999). The phrase is often used interchangeably to imply the same as human resource, enterprise or ‘entrepreneurship’. It is the handling of human resource so as to make the best out of it that is termed as its management. Again, various scholars provide a lot of insight as far as human resource management is concerned.  According to Bana, human resource is a paramount asset of every organisation (Bana, 2009). The corporate goals, Bana argues are as a result of a well designed Human resource plan (HRP). He further argues that it is the role of specialists in policy initiation to monitor and evaluate the corporate plan until its maturity. How creative the specialists are in assessing both the internal and external factors influencing performance of the institution is what determines by what extent that the corporate goals will be achieved. Thus, human capital is a vital asset in organisations and indeed in the public sector where various development activities are entrusted to public administrators. Success of the public institutions is thus directly depended on performance of its public administrators.

The ability of the public service to coordinate activities given its human resource load such that the public service does not forfeit on its development agenda depends on the competitiveness and innovativeness of the entire human resource management. That is why quality is more desirable over quantity human resource. Nevertheless, quality human resource can serve as a saviour of competitiveness; create a pathway to reducing high levels of unemployment and economic frustrations (Westphalem, 1999). Though, a good blend of the two will lead to wealth creation.

To conclude, while least developed countries boast for an abundance of human resource, a large proportion is unskilled or suffers from having a capacity to innovate. This is a major economic constraint that has a direct effect on public service sectors across African states and indeed Kenya bearing in mind that it is the human resource factor that ought to be a high-level decision-taker with a mandate to transform factors of production into new kinds of enterprise.” – Obed Nyangena – Narok, Kenya



Bana, Benson A. “The Role of Human Resource Managers in Transforming the Public Service in Africa.” Capacity Building for Human Resource. Dar es Salaam: Republic of Tanzania, 2009.

Economics for Eastern Africa. 2nd. Nairobi.

Network, United Nations Public Administration. The Role of HR Managers in Transforming the public Service in Africa. Arusha, Tanzania, February 23rd-27th, 2009.

Westphalen, Sven-Age. “Measuring and Reporting Intellectual Capital: Experience, Issues, and Prospects.” Reporting On Human Capital; Objectives and Trends. Amsterdam, 1999. 10.

Learner’s Submission: Current Capacity of Public Service in Ethiopia and Areas for Increasing Its Performance through Human Resources Management


“Developing countries such as Ethiopia have different resources, i.e. human and capital resources, at their disposal to achieve their development endeavor. With abundance of the human resource compared to capital goods in developing countries, much effort has been directed towards utilization of such abundant resources for effective realization of development goals.  Unlike capital goods which are subject to risk of depreciation over time, the human resource has some peculiar characteristics such as prospering over time due to accumulation of knowledge, skill and experience at different levels of life exposure. In due consideration of such peculiar characteristics of the human resource coupled with the shortage of capital goods, much effort has been directed towards effectively using such resource.

The presence of pitfalls in the public sector is common in Ethiopian context. Absence of belongingness and lack of motivation of the civil servant to carry of daily assignments are the major impediments for realization of the country’s development agenda.  With its economy dramatically growing over the last decade by registering double digit, the public’s demand of high quality services has been high increased more than ever.

As a developing country, Ethiopia’s major resource is its human capital. Hence, spending a lot of resources to fundamentally change the public sector without undergoing dramatic change in the human resource management practice is unthinkable. Effort towards sharpening this important resource by effectively enhancing the human resource management practice appears to be the focus. In general, human resource management plays a crucial role for helping the country achieve its goal in different areas:

First, effective human resource management helps to put in place a dynamic and capable work force that serve as an input for effective service delivery

Second, placement of sound human resource management practice helps to continuously monitor performance and potential of employees which will serve as an important tool in taking timely action by the concerned body.

Thirdly, effective human resource management helps to retain highly qualified human resources of the organization so that it can contribute towards realizing the development goals of the nations.

Fourthly, placement of human resource management practice is helpful in harmonizing the relationship between the management and work force which fosters the overall realization of the goals of the government.

To benefit from the fruits of capable and dynamic human resource, the country needs to have an appropriate mechanism to identify and select the right person for the right place in the public sector. The more capable is the work force is, the better will be the capability to address the development goals.  Training and development practices should be given continuously to enhance the capacity of the individuals over a period time.

Overall, the public service can be enhanced over time by giving attention to the human resource management which will have a far reaching positive impact in service delivery. Moreover, the bid to bring the country into one of the middle income earning level in the coming ten years could be facilitated by giving the proper attention to the management of its “most valuable asset”,i.e the human resource.” – Biruk Damte – Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Learner’s Submission: Public Service Human Resource Management in Nigeria


“Public institutions in Nigeria have increased enormously over the years, but the quality of services they provide have declined. Duplication of statutory functions between public institutions with no added value contributes significantly to the expansion of public institutions. Government often attempts to cover all areas of development programmes to move with the increasing expectations of the people, but compounding issues is the fact that Nigeria’s public service is largely faced with continual capacity constraints. These constraints hinder the delivery of complementary services to the emerging private sector and achievement of national development agenda. In this article I shared my thoughts on the current capacity of public service in Nigeria and areas human resource management can increase performance of public service.

It is popular in Nigeria that public service is dysfunctional. This has been attributed to long years of reform deficit and neglect. As a former British colony, Nigeria inherited a public service from the colonial service. With the historical British foundation of independent, non-partisan and meritocratic administrative mechanisms that were evident in the root and branch of colonial administrative system, it would be improbable to allude Nigeria’s dysfunctional public service and the structure that feeds venal mandarins to the bequeathment of colonial service.

The military regimes were rather slack about keeping to meritocracy, excellence and high performance in the public service. It is a popular view that the failure of merit and excellence in Nigeria’s public service is attributable to Murtala-Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida regimes- for example, Murtala-Obasanjo compulsory retirement of public servants in the mid-1970s, and Ibrahim Babangida’s Civil Service Reform Decree No. 43 of 1988. Also, the Structural Adjustment Programme in the late 1980s was part of this story- it killed motivation, skills and spirits of public servants with its deteriorating effects on pay and fringe benefits relative to the cost of living. As Nigeria transited to democracy the capacity of public service remained an old wine in a new bottle.

However, public servants cannot be exonerated from the decay of public service. It is easier for public servants to reproach their political leaders for the failures than to take responsibilities. The inability of public servants to embrace the right attitude to work, or update themselves with the job skills, know-how and technology contributes to the messy state of affairs in the public service. Public servants have imbibed a stove-piping bureaucratic mentality that forestalls efforts of any high-flying mandarin. This mentality yields a short-run vision, egocentric policy formulation and weak programme implementation. Thus public institutions are better prepared to pursue individual interests than to align themselves with the nation’s development objectives and systems that sustain them.

Though steps had been taken in the past to reform the public service, those reforms had deformities, particularly in the human resource functions, with attendant consequences.

Human resources are lifeblood of public service. The capacity of public service is critical for the achievement and sustainability of Nigeria’s development agenda. High performance of public servants is imperative, but human resource management is sacrosanct. The question now is how can the public service perform high through human resource management?

Firstly, as human resource management is all encompassing, ranging from personnel administration to human resource strategy development and leadership, it should be streamlined into the structure of public sector institutions and aligned with the transformation agenda, particularly in decision-making processes. This will improve the public service as human resources are bequeathed with discretionary power of decision-making and as such possess a competitive advantage over the other resources like capital, technology, etc.

Secondly, as human resource management deals with the management of issues and concerns of the people within the public service, it should be taken as a key management function and tool for discovering and utilizing untapped human potentials in the public service; hence placing public servants at vantage positions as value creators and change agents.

Thirdly, as human resource management is concerned with the development of policies and systems for performing wide-ranging functions, ranging from providing benefits and compensation to other personnel services, it should be linked with the strategic management process of public service. This will give room to attract highly talented and motivated individuals, and retain high-fliers who would have exited due to frustration”. Chukwuma Okonkwo-Abuja, Nigeria



%d bloggers like this: