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Based on a robust structured literature analysis, this paper highlights the key developments in the field of human resource management (HRM) in the Middle East. Utilizing the institutional perspective, the analysis contributes to the literature on HRM in the Middle East by focusing on four key themes. First, it highlights the topical need to analyze the context-specific nature of HRM in the region. Second, via the adoption of a systematic review, it highlights state of development in HRM in the research analysis set-up. Third, the analysis also helps to reveal the challenges facing the HRM function in the Middle East. Fourth, it presents an agenda for future research in the form of research directions. While doing the above, it revisits the notions of Buniversalistic^ and Bbest practice^ HRM (convergence) versus Bbest-fit^ or context distinctive (divergence) and also alternate models/diffusion of HRM (crossvergence) in the Middle Eastern context. The analysis, based on the framework of cross-national HRM comparisons, helps to make both theoretical and practical implications.
With the growing business interest in the Middle East, both academics and practitioners are interested in finding out about the kind of HRM systems suitable for the region. As highlighted above, the challenges facing HRM in the Middle East are complex and unique. There is emerging evidence that HRM is undergoing transformation in the region, but it is unclear what the outcome of this transformation would be. Possibly, a hybrid system (based on a mixture of both traditional Middle Eastern characteristics and Western rationalized system) would emerge. In order to highlight the dynamics surrounding the evolving patterns of HRM in the region, although a variety of theoretical frameworks can be adopted (e.g., the resource-based view of the firm, human capital and role behavior theories; for details see Jackson & Schuler, 1999), however, considering the significant above discussed socio-cultural and institutional influences on HRM in the Middle East, we believe both institutional (e.g., Scott, 2004, 2008) and indigenous theories would be a useful starting point (e.g., Leung, 2012; Saini & Budhwar, 2008). The adoption of institutional theory for our analysis has been helpful to understand the context-specific nature of HRM and its development to present state. Further, the analysis focusing on the key contextual/institutional (e.g., economic, social, political) forces as the key determinants of developments of HRM and the resultant challenges facing the HR function in the Middle East has been helpful to not only highlight state of HRM in the region but also to set the agenda for future research.