An examination of human resource management practices in Iranian public sector

Hamid Yeganeh (Winona State University, Winona, Minnesota, USA)
Zhan Su (Laval University, Québec City, Canada)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Publication date: 8 February 2008



The purpose of this paper is to analyze HRM practices in Iran in view of underlying cultural, political and economic factors.


The paper is organized in three major parts. The first part deals with HRM concept and Iranian social context. The second part presents methodology and data analysis. The third part discusses results and illustrates HRM practices in Iranian organizations. The study involves in‐depth interviews with four Iranian managers and data collected from 82 respondents through Likert‐type questionnaires (n=82, rate of response=44 per cent).


The findings in the paper shed light on the main HRM functions in the Iranian public sector. Staffing is marked by pervasiveness of networking, entitlement, compliance with Islamic/revolutionary criteria and high job security. Compensation is described by features such as fixed pay, ascription/seniority‐based reward, and hierarchical pay structure. Training and development programs are found to be unplanned and spontaneous. Finally, the paper shows that the appraisal function receives little attention and tends to be based on subjective and behavioral criteria.

Research limitations/implications

The paper shows that the study is limited in terms of HRM functions, sector and sample size. Further research may make comparison between large/state‐owned and small/private organizations.

Practical implications

The findings in the paper might be valuable for MNEs, NGOs, international negotiators, expatriate managers, investors and those who are concerned with this part of the world.


The paper presents a convenient approach in assessing HRM variations. The combination of qualitative and quantitative data provides a thick description of HRM enriched by secondary data and previous research. Given some commonalities between Iran and other developing countries, the findings might be of potential interest in comparative studies dealing with management transferability.



Yeganeh, H. and Su, Z. (2008), "An examination of human resource management practices in Iranian public sector", Personnel Review, Vol. 37 No. 2, pp. 203-221.

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Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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