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Transferring Western HRM practices to developing countries: The case of a privatized utility in Jordan

Faten Z. Baddar Al‐Husan (Middlesex University Business School, Hendon, UK)
Ross Brennan (Middlesex University Business School, Hendon, UK)
Phil James (Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Article publication date: 6 February 2009



This paper seeks to explore the nature of the human resource reforms introduced by a French multinational into a privatized Jordanian utility and the impact of these reforms on worker experiences, attitudes and behaviour.


The approach takes the form of a single‐company case study using longitudinal interview data (44 interviews over a period of two and a half years) and a staff survey (202 completed and usable replies).


Employees had experienced changes as a result of the HR reforms and these experiences were, at the aggregate level, associated with a number of positive attitudinal and behavioural outcomes. There were marked differences between different categories of staff in these respects, with more senior staff and those with higher educational qualifications being those most likely to report positive attitudinal and behavioural outcomes.

Research limitations/implications

Studies of the transfer of Western management techniques to developing countries cannot treat the workforce as homogeneous. There are likely to be important differences between groups based on demographic criteria such as education, job category and length of service. However, this project used a single‐company case study and so is capable of only limited generalization.

Practical implications

The differences between employee groups in attitudes towards the HR reforms are best seen as the outcome of “deliberate intent” on the part of the French MNC rather than intra‐organisational variations in “cultural receptivity”. They indicate that, to some extent, MNCs can successfully pursue different human resource approaches in respect of different categories of staff. However, some employees felt that they were adversely affected by the reforms.


The paper contributes an in‐depth empirical study to the important but relatively under‐researched area of the transfer of management techniques by MNCs to companies in developing countries.



Baddar Al‐Husan, F.Z., Brennan, R. and James, P. (2009), "Transferring Western HRM practices to developing countries: The case of a privatized utility in Jordan", Personnel Review, Vol. 38 No. 2, pp. 104-123.



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