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IMPACT OF GLOBALIZATION ON THE HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT FUNCTION IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES: A CASE STUDY OF KENYA PUBLIC CORPORATIONS Hazel Gachoka Gachunga1 Abstract Globalization has a major impact on the management of human resources in developing countries including Kenya. It has led to homogenization and convergence in organization strategies, structures and processes as well as in consumer choice. With accelerating globalization, organizations have had to change and new trends have set in even in the management of human resources. Globalization has led to changes in organization design and organization structures are leaner thus improving efficiency but having a negative impact on staff numbers which have had to be reduced. This means employees have been retrenched in many sectors like telecommunications, the Kenya Railways and the Kenya public service sectors in order for those organizations to gain competitive advantage. Reward management systems have changed and even the human resource planning strategy is to have a leaner staff in the core areas and to hire part time workers in a bid to reduce costs and to enable the business to run profitably and efficiently. The non-core jobs have been outsourced which has led to an increase in independent contractors to service industries. However, the homogeneity that results from globalization has had a major effect in developing countries because of brain drain. Globalization can therefore be said to have had a phenomenal impact on a developing economy like Kenya that is both positive and negative as explored in the paper.

INTRODUCTION Globalization was defined by Giddens (1990) as the ‘intensification of worldwide social relations which link distant localities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events occurring miles away and vice versa’. This definition embodies some interrelated ideas, of “accelerating interdependence” (Ohmae, 1989), of “action at a distance” (Giddens, 1990) and of “time–space compression” (Harvey, 1989). ‘Accelerating interdependence’ is understood to be the growing intensity of international enmeshment among national economies and societies, such that developments in one country impacts directly on another country. ‘Time space compression’ refers to the manner in which globalization appears to shrink geographical distance and time. In a world of near instantaneous communication, distance and time no longer seem to be major constraints on patterns of human organization and interaction (Held, McGraw, Goldbat and Perraton, 1999). Globalization is leading to homogenization and convergence in organizations’ strategies, structures and processes and in consumer choice, along with a new global division of labor that widens the income gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ both within and between societies. Today’s world is organized by accelerating globalization, ‘which is strengthening the dominance of a world capitalist economic system , supplanting the primacy of the nation state with transnational corporations and organizations, and eroding local cultures and traditions through a global culture (Kellner, 1989). Hazel Gachoka Gachunga is a lecturer in human resource management in the School of Human Resource Development at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. 1


The emergent global economy and culture can be described as a ‘network society’ which is grounded in new communications and information technology (Castell, 1996, 1997, 1998). Some view globalization as the continuation of modernization and a force of progress, wealth, freedom, democracy and happiness. Others view it as another form of imposition. Its critiques view globalization as harmful and perceive it as a force that brings about increased domination and control by wealthier and overdeveloped nations over the poor and underdeveloped countries. They feel that it widens the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ (Castell, 1996). From the social theory...
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