Retaining skilled workers in a conflict setting: a study of human resource management approaches in international non-governmental development organizations in South Sudan

Bunny, A 2017, Retaining skilled workers in a conflict setting: a study of human resource management approaches in international non-governmental development organizations in South Sudan, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Management, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Retaining skilled workers in a conflict setting: a study of human resource management approaches in international non-governmental development organizations in South Sudan
Author(s) Bunny, A
Year 2017
Abstract While a number of studies have been conducted on staff turnover and staff retention, there is as yet no clear agreement on the most appropriate management approaches for retaining skilled workers in war and conflict zones. To date there are only a handful of studies which have studied the skill retention challenges that conflict settings present for HR managers and their responses to this situation. The overwhelming focus of research on skills retention has been conducted in non-conflict settings where the organizational environment is largely taken for granted. What is known from the literature is that management has sought to address retention challenges through a range of employee retention approaches such as providing satisfying working conditions, higher salaries and better benefits. However, skills retention is affected by both external and internal environmental factors and when it comes to conflict settings the external environment cannot be easily ignored or taken for granted given the risks to people’s safety. This is particularly true for organizations such as those involved in humanitarian, peacekeeping or development work.

This is the focal point for this study. It examines the skill retention challenges for INGDOs operating in the conflict society of South Sudan and the approaches adopted by HR managers to retain staff in this difficult environment. The study adopts an interpretivist qualitative approach involving semi-structured interviews and focus groups with INGDOs managers and employees working for INGDOs in South Sudan as well as expert practitioners familiar with the sector. Results of interviews with managers, skilled workers, and experts identified health and safety, and security concerns, poor living/working conditions, employment contract conditions, tensions between locals and expatriates, as the major factors influencing decisions of skilled workers to leave the INGDOs sector. On the positive note, the results revealed that some workers, especially local workers, may be influenced to continue working in the sector as opportunities for better salaries and medical benefits, training and professional development, career progression, performance feedback, effective communication, and staff empowerment opportunities, are available. Therefore, this study provides empirical evidence and contributes to a better understanding of factors influencing staff retention in a conflict context, while contributing to management literature and debate.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Management
Subjects Organisation and Management Theory
Organisational Planning and Management
Human Resources Management
Keyword(s) Staff Retention and staff turnover in International NGOs
HRM approaches for retaining skilled workers in a conflict setting
Development NGOs Sector in South Sudan
Attraction and Retention of Professional Aid Workers in unstable environment
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Created: Fri, 04 Aug 2017, 11:25:24 EST by Denise Paciocco
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