Original Research

The Human Resource function contribution to human development in South Africa

Penny Abbott, Xenia Goosen, Jos Coetzee
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 11, No 1 | a408 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v11i1.408 | © 2013 Penny Abbott, Xenia Goosen, Jos Coetzee | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 September 2011 | Published: 18 September 2013

About the author(s)

Penny Abbott, Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
Xenia Goosen, Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management, University of Johannesburg
Jos Coetzee, Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

Abstract

Orientation: This article discusses the extent to which human under-development in South Africa and the consequent societal problems of poverty and inequality are addressed by the work of HR practitioners.

Research purpose: The purpose of the study was to provide empirical evidence of the appropriateness of current HR practice in South African socio-economic conditions and to make suggestions for improvement.

Motivation for the study: Societal problems caused by human under-development are impacting more and more on organisations in South Africa. It is currently not known to what extent and in what way HR work contributes to the improvement of this situation.

Research design and method: An interpretive approach was adopted. Qualitative methods within a basic qualitative study strategy were used, including interviewing and a focus group. A sample of 50 individual HR practitioners at various organisational levels was interviewed. Data were analysed by means of thematic analysis.

Main findings: Societal problems caused by human under-development impact tremendously on the daily work of HR practitioners. Many HR practitioners do play an Employee Advocate role within the workplace but do not see this role as extending further to any degree. Some role models of more strategic responses were found.

Practical/managerial implications: HR practitioners would better fulfil their mandate to work for the success of their organisation if they took pro-active steps to accelerate human development outside their organisations.

Contribution/value-add: Empirical evidence is presented to support efforts to broaden the focus of HR work to human development. This linkage has not previously been researched.


Keywords

Employee Advocate; outside-in; qualitative

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