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J Health Organ Manag. 2016 Nov 21;30(8):1284-1300.

Understanding human resource management practices in Botswana's public health sector.

Author information

Department of Health Policy Development, Monitoring and Evaluation, Ministry of Health, Gaborone, Botswana.
Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago , Dunedin, New Zealand.
School of Health Sciences at Canterbury University of Canterbury , Christchurch, New Zealand.


Purpose The purpose of this paper is to assess the management of the public sector health workforce in Botswana. Using institutional frameworks it aims to document and analyse human resource management (HRM) practices, and make recommendations to improve employee and health system outcomes. Design/methodology/approach The paper draws from a large study that used a mixed methods approach to assess performance of Botswana's Ministry of Health (MOH). It uses data collected through document analysis and in-depth interviews of 54 key informants comprising policy makers, senior staff of the MOH and its stakeholder organizations. Findings Public health sector HRM in Botswana has experienced inadequate planning, poor deployment and underutilization of staff. Lack of comprehensive retention strategies and poor working conditions contributed to the failure to attract and retain skilled personnel. Relationships with both formal and informal environments affected HRM performance. Research limitations/implications While document review was a major source of data for this paper, the weaknesses in the human resource information system limited availability of data. Practical implications This paper presents an argument for the need for consideration of formal and informal environments in developing effective HRM strategies. Originality/value This research provides a rare system-wide approach to health HRM in a Sub-Saharan African country. It contributes to the literature and evidence needed to guide HRM policy decisions and practices.


Botswana; Human resource management; Institutional theory; Public health sector

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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