The European Journal of Development Research

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 235–252 | Cite as

How Strategic are Resource-Dependent Organisations? Experience of an International NGO in Kenya

  • Carol BruntEmail author
  • Kunle Akingbola
Original Article


Organisations that strategically align their human resources with organisational objectives can benefit from competitive advantage in contrast to transactional human resource management (HRM). While the performance benefits associated with this theory are acknowledged in the for-profit sector, the underlying logic might be transferable to the resource-dependent non-profit sector. Nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) depend on effective resource management to achieve program outcomes. We know little of the HRM practices of NGOs. This article examines the case of an international NGO that adopted a strategic approach to HRM. The results of our study reveal trade-offs in resource management choices. While strategic HRM provides a powerful management theory as a basis for management decision-making, financial constraints impose a complex series of trade-offs. Drawing on the experience of this organisation, the authors suggest that pursuance of a “growth strategy” may maximise resource utilisation for organisations similar to the one examined here.


Strategic human resource management International NGO Donor agencies Kenya Resource dependency 

Les organisations qui alignent leurs ressources humaines avec leurs objectifs organisationnels de façon stratégique peuvent bénéficier d’un avantage compétitif, contrairement à la gestion transactionnelle des ressources humaines (GRH). Bien que les avantages en matière de rendement associés à cette théorie soient reconnus dans le secteur à but lucratif, la logique sous-jacente pourrait s’appliquer au secteur à but non lucratif, qui dépend de ressources externes. Les organisations non gouvernementales (ONG) se reposent sur la gestion efficace des ressources pour atteindre les résultats du programme. Nous ne connaissons que peu les pratiques de gestion des ressources humaines (GRH) des ONG. Cet article étudie le cas d’une ONG internationale qui a adopté une approche stratégique de la GRH. Les résultats de notre étude révèlent que des compromis ont été faits dans les choix de gestion des ressources. Tandis que la GRH stratégique fournit une théorie de management puissante comme base pour la prise de décision managériale, les contraintes financières imposent une série complexe de compromis. S’inspirant de l’expérience de cette organisation, les auteurs suggèrent que la poursuite d’une “stratégie de croissance” peut maximiser l’utilisation des ressources pour des organisations similaires à celle examinée ici.



The authors are grateful to staff and management of NGOs in Kenya that contributed to this work. An earlier version of the article was presented at the 75th Annual Conference of the Academy of Management in Vancouver, Canada, August 8th, 2015.


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Copyright information

© European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Management, College of Business and EconomicsUniversity of Wisconsin-WhitewaterWhitewaterUSA
  2. 2.Faculty of Business AdministrationLakehead UniversityOrilliaCanada

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