Original Research

An assessment of the moderating role of employees’ cultural orientations amongst foreign manufacturing multinational companies in Kenya

Beatrice A. Dimba, Robert Rugimbana
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 11, No 1 | a453 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v11i1.453 | © 2013 Beatrice A. Dimba, Robert Rugimbana | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 January 2012 | Published: 11 September 2013

About the author(s)

Beatrice A. Dimba, Faculty of Management and Commerce, Strathmore University, Kenya
Robert Rugimbana, Faculty of Economics and Finance, Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa, South Africa

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Orientation: This article investigates the question, of whether culture really matters in implementing international strategic human resource management (SHRM) practices.

Research purpose: Specifically, this study sought to investigate the extent to which employee cultural orientations moderate the link between SHRM practices and firm performance in large foreign manufacturing multinational companies in Kenya.

Motivation for the study: Large foreign multinational companies have generally applied SHRM practices without adaptation when trying to improve employee performance even though resource based perspectives argue for the consideration of employees’ cultural orientations.

Research design, approach and method: SHRM practices were conceptualised as independent variables measured through distinct practices. Organisational performance as a dependent variable was measured using constructs of image, interpersonal relations, and product quality. Cultural dimensions adopted for this study were power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism or collectivism, and masculinity or femininity. The above conceptual framework was tested by the use of both quantitative and qualitative techniques with data from fifty (50) large foreign multinational companies operating in Kenya.

Main findings: Findings indicated that the relationship between SHRM practices and firm performance depend to a greater extent on employee cultural orientations when power distance is considered. Power distance (PD) refers to the extent of people accepting that power in institutions and organisations when distributed unequally. The greater the PD, the greater the acceptance of this inequality.

Practical/managerial implications: The study supported the notion that the relationship between SHRM practices and firm performance is moderated by power distance through motivation but not by the other three bipolar dimensions namely, Uncertainty Avoidance, Masculinity or Femininity and Individualism or Collectivism.

Contribution/value-add: This is the first large-scale empirical article that has focused on the moderating role of employees’ cultural orientations in large foreign manufacturing companies operating in Kenya.


Human resource strategies; Organizational performance; multinational companies; developing countries; resource based view; cultural orientations, foreign direct investment; work practices; Kenya


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