An exploration and study of the human resource management practices in the Post-Soviet State of Latvia (public sector)
: A study of the journey of HRM from a command controlled politically motivated system of the cadre to present day

  • Caryn Cook

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This thesis investigates the public sector in Latvia and the research question is “what is the nature of transition of Human Resource Management ideologies and paradigms against the backdrop of larger scale dynamic development in Latvia?”

    The interest within this research is that of the contextual paradigmatic view of Human Resource Management (HRM) (Brewster et al., 2010; Brewster, 1999; Moreley, 2004) exploring the contextual factors, or surrounding antecedents of HRM (Brewster, et al., 2010). The research is a case study of the public sector within the State of Latvia for what became a journey through the complex history of this country revealing a state with a varied and dramatic past which has been subject to various invasions, occupations and subjected to the control and command society of the Soviet Union for a considerable number of years.

    The journey from Soviet control of the politically motivated ‘cadre’ system into independence has provided a rich source of research exploring how human resource management (HRM) has developed within the public sector. This was investigated as a case study since it is a ‘constant’ in relation to changes and a good indicator of attitudes to management from a national perspective.

    As well as past ‘models’ or attitudes to HRM from a Soviet perspective, various models of HRM have been explored and discussed, particularly in relation to the universalistic nature of Westernised typologies. The concept of a European model has been considered and discussed with consideration of various ‘clusters’ of practices which take into account cultural aspects, in particular national culture, as an important element within the study. Overarching this is the growing interest in convergence or divergence of HRM as the Central Eastern European states have developed post-independence (Brewster, 2004).

    The mixed methods approach used is firmly place within the qualitative field or phenomenological approach and explores aspects such as behaviour, perspectives, experiences and feelings (Atkinson et al., 2001; Marshall and Rossman, 2006). The research utilises grounded theory building (Glaser and Straus, 1967; Charmaz, 2014; Bryant and Charmaz, 2007; Strauss and Corbin, 1997; Glaser, 2002)) combining multiple data collection methods taking a pragmatic approach to research. The level of analysis explores the macro, meso and micro level environments of the Latvian public sector. The macro-level concerns interactions between state and society from a broad perspective, fundamentally this is the level where decision-making takes place, the meso-level explores individual ‘behaviours’ embedded in every day social practices shaped or constrained by material and infrastructural contexts and the micro-level of individual behaviour and action). Exploratory research has considered historical accounts along with what was sparse research within the area. A Soviet perspective was considered for the period immediately preceding independence. Elite interviews were carried out followed by a survey questionnaire. The opportunity to enter the organisation and undertake observations was thwarted by a change of government and therefore ‘access’ afforded to the researcher.

    The findings are integrated throughout this work as is the nature of grounded theory building, and given the paucity of research has become part of a wider social study of a system finding its identity through difficult times. The results and analysis takes into account not only elite interviews and the survey questionnaire but also background historical research. The result is a fertile breeding ground for investigation which offers many avenues for further research. Various questions for future research are raised within the thesis and remain an interest of the researcher to take forward.
    Date of AwardApr 2016
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorBrychan Thomas (Supervisor) & LYNDON MURPHY (Supervisor)


    • Latvia
    • Human Resource Management
    • Convergence Theory
    • Research
    • Independence
    • Post-Soviet
    • Public Sector

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