Presentation on theme: "BY OSCAR M. OTELE DEPARTMENT OF POLITICAL SCIENCE AND PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION Human Resource Management (HRM) at Sub-National Level: Constraints and Contradictions."— Presentation transcript:
BY OSCAR M. OTELE DEPARTMENT OF POLITICAL SCIENCE AND PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION Human Resource Management (HRM) at Sub-National Level: Constraints and Contradictions in Kenyan Counties
Introduction HRM covers specific activities: recruitment and selection, training, promotion, performance appraisal and compensation, transfer and posting, and discipline and grievances. The success of public organizations in realizing their missions and visions depend on having the right persons with required knowledge, skills, abilities and experience (Siddiquee 2003). Devolution is one of the dimensions of decentralization and it entails transfer of political, fiscal and administrative power and authority from the center to semi-autonomous units.
Continued… The relationship between HRM and devolution lies in the type of HRM systems found at local/sub-national level: Integrated, separate and unified (Olowu & Wunsch, 2004; Mawhood, 1983). This article examined constraints and contradictions in the context of strategic HRM. HRM in the 47 counties operates within the constitutional and legal framework (Chapter 11 & Fourth Schedule of the 2010 Constitution, County Government Act of 2012). The Act establishes County Public Service Board (CPSB) the central personnel agency. Therefore the performance of county functions to a large extent depends on the extent to which CPBS gets the right persons.
Background to the Problem Generally public organizations should embrace principles of Weberian model of bureaucracy such as meritocracy, division of labour and specialization. However, in reality political, legal and financial challenges continue to militate against implementation of strategic HRM. This variance has attracted scholarly interests in developing countries. Despite this research on HRM in developing countries is largely underdeveloped, with notable exception(Budhwar & Debrah, 2004; Kamoche, 2004). Since 1994 World Bank and other donor agencies have spent considerable financial resources on public sector reforms with emphasis on decentralization, yet there has been little systematic study on the relationship between HRM and decentralization. Knowledge on the relationship between HRM and decentralization in Africa is particularly sparse, yet the framework continues to be adopted by several African countries as a solution to administrative inefficiency. Scholars are now responding to this knowledge gap (Phirinyane, 2009).
Theoretical Perspectives Contingency model, resource-based view model, path dependency theory with input from Kamoche (2001), & Jackson & Schuler (1999). The contingency model avers that organization’s HR practices thrive within its unique “culture, structure, history and traditions, and technology” (Dolan et al. 2005). Mismatch between HR strategy, and eternal & internal environment is likely to reduce the organization’s performance (Dolan et al.2005). Although this model postulates a link between individual goals to organizational goals, however, how this is achieved is not shown.
Continued… Resource-based view model highlights the importance of internal factors as offering competitive advantage for organization’s success (Wright & McMahan, 1992). Organization should be able to identify “heterogeneous and immobile” (Phirinyane, 2009:48) resources that create sustainable comparative advantage. Path dependency theory emphasizes on the “unique historical circumstances that give leeway to some factors that influence organization’s performance” (Barney,1991). The theory is helpful in disaggregating key factors such as “initial forces, contingency, timing and sequencing, and incrementalism within…political context” (Phirinyane 2009:68). It overlooks how the policy and institutions change
Continued… Kamoche’s Process approach shows how national and contextual factors influence HRM policy, practices and outcomes. Jackson & Schuler’s framework demonstrates how the external environment has a bearing on the internal environment comprising of technology, size, structure and strategy. This has implication on the kind of choice made and their influence on HRM and organizational performance. As an integrated theoretical framework both aspects of strategy formulation and strategy implementation are considered.
Methodology A sample of 30 out of 376 members of CPSB in 47 counties was interviewed. A full list of members of CPSB with their telephone numbers and addresses was obtained from CIC. Random sampling technique was used to select respondents. A structured interview schedule guided the interview. By the end of the interview the researcher had managed to collect data from 12 counties.
Results and Analysis External Environment In some counties, national government institutions are seen as the main threat to the HRM. Although Transitional Authority (TA) facilitated transfer of employees from former Local Authorities, it placed some employees in sensitive positions without following due process. Interference from the cultural groups like council of elders who indirectly influence who is to be employed in the county. “Our own graduates have to be employed in the county is common in the counties”. Socio-cultural stereotypes continue to affect attainment of one-third gender rule and adherence to ethnic diversity. Opinion is divided whether the national government guarantee autonomy. In some counties there is a feeling that national government does not guarantee autonomy to the county government especially on financial matters.
Continued… In terms of labour, there is acute shortage of skilled labour in majorities of sampled counties. Majorities of job applicants are holders of social sciences or general science degrees. There is lack of technical skills and professional skills. There is still competition from private sectors and NGOs. Some experienced applicants are turned away by the little salaries on offer. Internal Environment Strengths: Inherited structures (e.g. experienced staff )from the defunct local authorities. A few boast of educational record and experience, zero interference from the office of the governors. Weakness: Problem of putting in place the organizational structures as required by the constitution; inadequate funding and late disbursement of the funds from the national treasury; interference from MCAs, CPSBs are running a payroll without a clear HRM policy, struggle over control of key resources, budget ceiling, lack of visionary leadership in the country.
Human Resource Practices Recruitment and Selection In most counties, CPSBs advertise the vacancies in one of the leading newspapers. Candidates are then shortlisted and interviewed. The CPSBs the prepare the list of successful candidates in order of merit but subject to quota system. The list of the CPSB is then sent to the relevant department with recommendation for appointment. However, the quota system as required by the law has compromised quality and merit. The recruitment process is highly subjective based on the judgment of the panelists on the day of interview. Some respondents noted that the recruitment exercise does not afford the panelists an opportunity to assess analytical capacity, intelligence and readiness of the candidates seeking for employment.
Continued… Training Some counties have prioritized training through several institutional arrangements, e.g. through partnership with Kenya School of Government and The Center for Parliamentary Studies Some counties have entered into arrangement with some universities. In majorities of the counties, training is managed by a technical committee comprising of all members of CPBS, Heads of Departments and County Secretary. Weakness: Training programs conducted without proper assessment of the training needs in the counties. Those who attend training are selected haphazardly. Curriculum is outdated and determined by the institutions and ability of the trainers to interact with trainees, lectures with assignments are the most frequently used methods. Case studies are rarely used. Training kits are prepared without inputs of the needs of various counties.
Promotion Governed by Section 70 of the County Government Act. The HoDs send the names of candidates eligible for promotion to CPSB. However, majority of respondents cited skewed criteria for promotion which make employment in several counties unattractive. There is a growing perception that county public service is a dumping ground for those not keen on career advancement. One respondent observed that were it not for bureaucratic hurdles associated with promotion in the county, promotion process could be used as a strategy to reward performance in the counties. In some counties the criterion used is merit-cum-seniority.
Performance Management In sampled counties there are no systems of routine evaluation of the performance of county employees. In some counties HODs have designed their own tools of evaluation. The process is conducted by someone who is senior than the employee being evaluated- Subjective, perceived as ritualistic. Those that have attempted, this system has reported several contradictions which complicate county government decisions regarding promotion, training and rewards. In some counties, members raised need for performance appraisal tools, at the same fear raised that such tools could be used to victimize some employees:- Likely to shield underperformance in many departments. Other suggested that performance management should be left within the view of independent firms.
Conclusions and Implications Political, socio-cultural and economic factors as the main threats in the external environment, limitation in constitutional and legal framework, and inadequate financial resources as the main weaknesses in the internal environment. These threats and weaknesses constrain the ability of the CPBS from getting the right persons in the counties so that efficiency in service delivery can be realized. Internally, practical operation of HRM suffers from a host of anomalies and contradictions. Interrogating these findings further one may conclude that county governments have devolved traditional practice found in the mainstream civil service. Unless the county government divorce themselves from these practices then the objects of devolution would not be achieved. Moving forward county government should prioritize merit as the principle of recruitment and selection. By implication the quota system should be abolished gradually. Training methods should be improved and CPSB should develop appropriate promotion system that would be able to assess performance of the county employees. Finally, despite variation in socio-economic and political systems, Kenya counties may possibly look at success stories in countries such as United States, South Africa and India.