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Workforce localization and HRM practices in the Gulf countries: a literature review

Waxin, Marie-France
Bateman, Rob
Published version
As members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates pursue localization as a government policy aimed at increasing the participation of national citizens in the private sector. Workforce localization programs can be described as the recruitment and development of national citizens to increase their employability, thereby reducing the country’s dependence on an expatriate workforce (Cave, 2004). Government legislation to enhance workforce localization has changed the human resources landscape in the GCC (Randeree, 2009) and made localization policy a significant staffing consideration for international businesses operating in this particular environment (Mellahi, 2007, Rees et al, 2007). However, there is a lack of academic research on HRM in emerging markets in general, and especially in GCC countries. Although anecdotal records and literature on workforce localization exist in most GCC countries, there is still a lack of academic research on such programs (Randeree, 2012) and the HRM practices that support them. Although several researchers have addressed particular HR practices with respect to localization, there has been no comprehensive study encompassing the key HR processes. This article reviews the literature on workforce localization programs in the GCC and on the HRM practices that facilitate the implementation of these programs.
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