Confused in Abu Dhabi: Do MBA Textbooks Actually Matter?


This is a short case about human resource practices in an American company operating in the Gulf. It is often the case that Human Resource Management (HRM) is a secondary or even tertiary matter for firms, though this can vary by company, geography, industry, etc. This is often because many managers think of it as an impediment to flexibility and even profitability. It is this notion that this case examines, weighing financial and operational priorities against personnel concerns.

Best practice of Human Resource Management (HRM) dictates that alignment must exist across recruitment, performance management, and training and development. The underlying discussion that this case provokes is whether firms in general and HRM in particular can be successful if this alignment is lacking. In this case, which concerns an oil company headquartered in Houston, but operating in Abu Dhabi, can the ‘People Strategy’ be insufficiently supported and the company still be successful longer term as it gains more international acclaim?

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