Human resource management practices in a transition economy: Challenges and prospects

John O. Okpara (Department of Management, College of Business, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, USA)
Pamela Wynn (Department of Management, College of Business, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, USA)

Management Research News

ISSN: 0140-9174

Publication date: 1 January 2008



The purpose of this study is to examine the extent to which organizations in Nigeria use various human resource management (HRM) practices, and the perceived challenges and prospects of these practices.


A combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods was employed to gather information. Specifically, data were collected from 253 managers in selected firms. Descriptive data analysis is presented with respect to the use and execution of HRM practices such as recruitment, selection, performance appraisal and training and development. In addition, information was collected and analyzed with regard to the challenges and prospects of HRM.


This study provides significant current information on HRM knowledge and practices in Nigeria. The findings reveal that HRM practices, such as training, recruitment, compensation, performance appraisal and reward systems, are still in place. However, issues of tribalism, AIDS, training and development and corruption are some of the challenges identified that need to be addressed.

Research limitations/implications

The study was limited to 12 companies in ten cities. A broader geographic sampling would better reflect the national profile. Another limitation could stem from the procedure used in data collection method (drop off and pick up). However, extreme measures were taken to protect the identity of the respondents.

Practical implications

The study identified challenges and prospects of HRM in Nigeria. Organizations should employ requisite HRM practices to achieve excellent organizational performance. Furthermore, the government may create policies to promote the above practices, since, in the long term, achieving organizational excellence will reflect positively on the economy. All these may be facilitated through proactive organizational and national human resource development initiatives.


The significance of the present study stems from the fact that very few studies have explored the impact of human resource challenges and prospects in Nigeria. The results provide additional insights into HRM practices in Nigeria, a sub‐Saharan African country. A region that has been neglected by management researchers and has therefore been less researched. Also, the insights gained from this study contribute to the future development of this line of research, particularly in a non‐Western country like Nigeria.



Okpara, J.O. and Wynn, P. (2008), "Human resource management practices in a transition economy: Challenges and prospects", Management Research News, Vol. 31 No. 1, pp. 57-76.

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