Human resource management in Africa: current research and future directions–evidence from South Africa and across the continent

Geoffrey Wood, Christine Bischoff

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9 Citations (SciVal)


This review article supplements and extends earlier reviews on the state and practice of HRM and employment in Africa, encompassing earlier landmark empirical studies. Work published from 2014 is reviewed and concentrated on. Recent empirical concerns have centred on MNE HR practices, and ones from emerging markets; this reflects changing patterns of FDI and the decline of African large firms. There has been persistent interest in indigenous modes of management. The study accords particular focus to South Africa, given the relative volume of work published on that country. In theoretical terms, there has been an interest on comparative institutional analysis, and how this explains similarity and diversity in HRM; we explore present theoretical controversies and future research directions. The conclusion is that recent literature on HRM, and work and employment in Africa remains fragmented in scale, scope, and in terms of reaching distinct scholarly communities; the article argues for theoretical synthesis, and increased dialogue between different disciplines. Despite the undeniable heterogeneity of studies, a key divide at theoretical and applied levels is between studies that focus on unique contextual features, encompassing culture and material circumstances, and those that locate HR in Africa within broad trends in the global political economy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)444-471
Number of pages28
JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
Issue number3
Early online date23 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2022


  • Africa
  • comparative HRM
  • cross cultural management
  • HRD
  • indigeneous management
  • industrial relations
  • institutional theory
  • trade unions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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