Human resource development programs have become very common in both private and public sectors in the Sultanate of Oman. There is a general effort to improve the output of employees within the private and public sectors. Studies conducted by various organizations and independent researchers have confirmed that quality of output of the workforce in this country has been improving consistently over the past two decades.
This has been partly attributed to the improved academic system in this country. However, some of the researchers have attributed this to human resource development programs at various institutions in this country. It is would be interesting to understand the effectiveness of human resource development programs in public and private sectors in Oman. Although research confirms that human resource, development programs have been effective in both public and private sectors, other studies have claimed that, its effectiveness has been stronger in the private sector.
Human resource is one of the most important resources within any organization that is needed to ensure that there is a normal running of various activities. The importance of human resource has created the need to ensure that its capacity is enhanced in order to improve the performance of organizations. Jeffreys (2012, p. 81) notes that under the leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the Sultan of Oman, this country has experienced massive development in various sectors of the economy. Both the private and public sectors have played major roles in the development of the country’s economy (Reid 2004, p. 51).
However, there has been a worrying trend where most of the large multinational firms in this country prefer hiring third country nationals (TCN) instead of host country nationals (HCN). The claim has been that despite presence of reputable higher institutions of learning in this country, the local workforce still lack capacity to handle some technical issues at the top management and other levels within organizations (Taylor 2005, p. 73).
This has created concern among the stakeholders in both private and public institutions in this country. Oman has a small population, and if it is to succeed in various sectors of the economy, it must be able to train its employees to be very effective in managing various sectors of the economy. In developed countries, especially in the United States and Europe, human resource development programs have been used to enhance the capacity of employees (Swarajyalaxmi 2005, p. 89). This is a generally new concept in many organizations in this country. Many scholars have defined human resource development programs differently.
Stewart (2001, p. 91) says that human resource development refers to a planned effort to enhance the potential of individual employees in the workplace through formal, and informal learning, knowledge sharing processes and experiences. This concept has been in use in some of the public and private sectors in this country. Researchers have given their thought about the effectiveness of this concept in improving the competency and capability of employees in various sectors (Powell 2003, p. 30). This research will focus on how well this concept has helped in ensuring that the capacity of the workforce is improved within this country. To achieve this, the research will evaluate the effectiveness of human resource development programs in public and private sectors in Oman.
Significance of the study
According to Walsh (2010, p. 73), research as a process consumes a lot of time and resources in order to be completed successfully. It is therefore, important to state clearly the significance of the research in order to justify the need to spend these resources on it. As mentioned above, human resource is one of the most important resources to any organization. Success or failure of an organization always depends on the type of human resource hired at different positions (Al-Maawali 2000, p. 96). Oman is a small country with a relatively small population. The country has made massive strides towards development, especially in the last two decades.
This success is largely attributed to the committed local workforce in this country. However, the world is changing, and with this come many changes (Parnes 2006, p. 53). Competition is very high in various sector of the economy, and the liberalization of the borders due to forces of globalization has made this competition even stiffer. Firms are under massive pressure to improve their performance in order to manage this competition.
Some of the large companies operating locally have considered hiring third country nationals (TCN) instead of host country nationals (HCN). They have stated that the local workforce still lack the capacity to run these firms in the current competitive business world (Wellington 2009, p. 71). Some researchers have stated that the best way in which the capacity of the local workforce can be improved is through human resource development programs.
Some institutions have started this program to help improve the capacity of their employees. This research will help in determining the effectiveness of these programs in the institutions that have implemented the policies. This way, the research will be able to offer a comprehensive report on the effectiveness of human resource development programs in public and private sectors (Metcalfe & Mimouni 2011, p. 42). This will help stakeholders make a decision on how this concept can be used to improve the performance of the local workforce in this country.
Research questions and hypotheses
According to Sloman (2002, p. 61), it is important to set clear research questions that would be used in the process of collecting data. When one sets to conduct a research on a particular issue, he or she would be exposed to a large volume of information in the field, and in other secondary sources of data. Most of these massive data are always irrelevant to the specific topic under investigation, though some of them can be very interesting (Muncherji 2009, p. 58).
This means that if the researcher lacks a yardstick that would guide him or her in the field during data collection, it is possible to be swayed off the topic of the research. This means that it is important to ensure that there is a clear guide that would help the researcher determines the specific data needed from the field. Research questions acts as the guide that would help the researcher in determining the appropriateness of the data being collected (Scannell 2006, p. 73). The following are research questions that will be used in this research.
- How effective are Human Resource Development Programs in public and private sectors in Oman?
- What is the current state in application of Human Resource Development Programs in this country?
- Is there any significant difference in the effectiveness of Human Resource Development Programs between public and private sectors in this country?
- Has the society accepted human accepted Human Resource Development Programs as a way of improving the capacity of the workforce in this country?
- What are some of the Human Resource Development models that are currently used in public and private sectors in Oman?
- What is the trend and possible future of human resource development programs in Oman?
The above questions will guide this research during data collection process. They will also form the basis of research hypothesis. The following research hypotheses were developed based on the research questions set above.
- H1o. Human resource development program is not effective in public and private sectors in Oman.
- H1a. Human resource development program is very effective in public and private sectors in Oman.
- H2o. The current state of application of human resource development programs in this country is not satisfactory.
- H2a. The current state of application of human resource development programs in this country is satisfactory.
- H3o. The society has not yet accepted human resource development programs as a way of improving the capacity of workforce in this country.
- H3a. The society has accepted human resource development programs as a way of improving the capacity of workforce in this country.
The researcher seeks to conduct a research that will help in accepting or refuting some of the hypotheses that have been developed at this proposal stage. Both the primary data and secondary data will be used to help confirm or reject these hypotheses.
Scope and limitations of the research
In every research, it is always important to define the scope and limitations in order to make users understand the relevance of the report (Weiss 2011, p. 52). As Panagariya (2008, p. 49) observes, a piece of research may be used by various stakeholders, and for different reasons. It is important to define its scope in order to inform anyone who may find it important, its relevance based on different contexts. In this research, the scope of primary data collection is limited to the two institutions chosen for this research as defined in the methodology section. The research is based on Oman, and the socio-political and economic factors are unique to this country (Surtees 2004, p. 67).
The application of the information as analyzed in chapter four of this research should be done with a clear understanding of the environmental factors of this country. Although the two institutions chosen for the primary data collection are of higher learning, the data gathered can be generalized on any other public or private institution in this country. Secondary data collection will be from books, journals, and other online sources that are relevant to this study. Although the secondary data sources will be talking about this topic in different countries around the world, the research will make an effort to capture their relevance to the country under investigation (Rothwell 2008, p. 38).
The researcher expects some limitations in this research, especially at the data collection stage. The first limitation is on time (Snell & Bohlander 2013, p. 92). The researcher understands the importance of completing this research within the time constrains that will be provided. The financial limitations such as the costs of travels to deliver and receive back the questionnaires from the respondents, the cost of processing the data and the final documentation will also be factored in at the planning stage of this research.
Human resource development programs in public and private sectors in Oman
According to Maloney (1998, p. 81), firms are currently under pressure to ensure that their human capital have the capacity to meet the ever changing environmental needs in order to remain competitive in the market. Technology is leveling the field of business, and firms are turning to their human resource to gain competitive advantage over their competitors. According to Barney (1991, p. 119), Microsoft has been able to reach its current prestigious position in the software industry because of having a team of dedicated, committed and well-educated employees who understand the changing environmental needs.
In Oman, the need to have competent employees is a fact that is obvious to different stakeholders and therefore, must be addressed. According to Campos and Root (1996, p. 56), many theories exist about human resource development programs in other countries, especially the United States and other European countries.
Cenzo (2006, p. 86) observes that there has been a concerted effort from different stakeholders, especially large firms and institutions of higher learning, to improve the capacity of human capital in this country. This scholar further states that both public and private sectors have come up with human resource development programs that are focused on improving service delivery of the workforce. Although the effort to implement these programs have been almost equal in both sectors, Miller (2011, p. 38) says that the effect on the private sector has been considered as more positive as compared to the public sectors.
It is important to understand some of the theoretical and conceptual framework concerning human resource development in order to be in a position to understand how this can be applied successfully in the context of Oman socio-political and economic structure (Perkins 2013, p. 152).
Theoretical and Conceptual framework
Murioch (2012, p. 11) notes that it is important to understand some of the theories that support human resource development programs in order to understand the relevance of the concept to this country. Various scholars have analyzed human resource development practices under different contexts. According to Sims (2006, p. 61), there has been a big challenge in this field over the best theories that should be used in different social and economic contexts.
Majer (2011, p. 45) says that there has been a dilemma on whether to use well-established existing theories which were basically developed and tested in the United States, or to developed completely new theories based on the existing environmental factors of a particular country under investigation. It is apparent that the society has preferred using the existing theories, trying to make the environmental factors be as close to that of the United States as possible (Southworth 2009, p. 88).
King (2009, p. 73) says that one of the most important factors that some of the employers have identified as lacking in some of the local workforce is the ability to make accurate decisions on behalf of a firm when faced with such a scenario. According to McGregor’s Theory X, some leaders have developed a feeling that employees are people who are lazy, and must be pushed around to achieve good results (Krishnaveni 2008, p. 59). These employers suffer from this syndrome, and they have spread it to their employees who feel that they lack the capacity to deliver. This slows affects their service delivery (Chandra 2007, p. 42).
Human resource development programs should therefore, be developed to focus on both the employers and employees on how to offer leadership. They should be made to appreciate the other positive McGregor’s Theory Y, which holds that employees are always committed to delivering the best service to their employers. When employers develop this attitude, they will feel relaxed allowing employees to make decisions on behalf of the firm. Dane (2010, p. 38) says that when employees are given the responsibility of making decisions, they always feel responsible, and this improves their performance. They will develop the feeling that success of the entire firm rests on their individual output (Aryee 1994, p. 68). This is partly what is missing in the current workforce in Oman (World Bank 1994, p. 2).
Rensis Likert’s Participative Decision Making Theory is another theory that can be very relevant when evaluating the effectiveness of human resource development programs (Ahuja 2008, p. 127). According to Wilson (2005, p. 93), “This model has four systems that are based on effectively functioning groups that are related throughout the organization, hence Likert felt that with accurate understanding of human performance in variability and contrasts, organizations could be more productive.” There is need to make employers in this country feel satisfied with the quality of the current workforce within this country (Edwards 2003, p. 29).
For this to be possible, effective functionality of these employees must be ensured, when either working in groups or as individuals. This theory supports human resource development programs as means through which capacity of employees can be enhanced. For this reason, when developing the conceptual framework that would help confront the issue, it is important to focus on strategies that would empower employees. Hirschey (2004, p. 56) says that employees empowerment in terms of allowing them to make decisions, or assigning them various responsibilities is the first step towards improving their output. The conceptual model below can be used to evaluate effectiveness of Human resource development programs in both public and private sectors in this country.
This chapter will focus on various aspects of research development. It includes methods of data collection, its analysis, and presentation procedures. Every research project applies a certain research method to achieve its objectives depending on its goals. The research methods that are proposed will be used in developing the dissertation of this research (Andrzej & Buchaman 2007, p. 34). This is so because the project proposal shall have to be approved as workable before it is put into application. In research, design deals primarily with aims, uses, purposes, intentions, and plans within the practical constraints of time, location, money, and availability of staff (Bell 2005, p. 112).
In this study, respondents will be briefed in advance. This is necessary to ensure that respondents are prepared psychologically for the task ahead. This would also help in ensuring that response that will be given will be timely and well informed. This research seeks to compare effectiveness of human resource development programs in public and private sectors in Oman. For this reason, the researcher will collected data from one public institution and one private institution. The researcher chose Royal Guard of Oman Technical Collage as the public institution, and Oman Medical College as the private institution.
The officials of Royal Guard of Oman Technical College and Oman Medical College will be given relevant notice by the researcher. The study population will also be amicably informed in order to get prepared for the study. Briefing will be important because it would enhance reliability of the study. It is also ethical to inform people before researching on them (Badenhorst 2007, p. 38). The findings will be made public to the researched as one way of ensuring morality in the study. Furthermore, the researcher will observe researcher-researched ethics by keeping away from criticism. This chapter will give an overview of the purpose of collecting and analyzing data and the basic questions used to gather the desired responses.
In this chapter, research hypothesis will be focused on as a way of guiding the process of data collection. This is important because it is at this stage that the researcher goes into the field to gather information. It is therefore necessary that the research hypotheses be brought to focus because they would be the guiding light in the process of gathering data (Baily 2006, p. 115). The researcher will be trying to confirm the hypotheses. In order to eliminate criticism, this chapter clearly states the scope of the study. There are limits beyond which this research may not hold because of the method used in data collection and analysis. It is therefore important that limitations be clearly stated to make it clear to readers of this material how far this research reveals what it purports to.
Since the main method of data collection will be primary source, the questionnaire is the main instrument that will be used to collect data. This chapter will bring out the questionnaire format, reasons for choosing this format, its advantages and disadvantages. In a research process, sampling is very important because certain population can be too big to facilitate a study of the whole population (Bell 2001, p. 56). This chapter will discuss sampling theories, importance of research design, and methods of sampling- giving their advantages and disadvantages, and the determination of the sample size. In addition, data analysis technique will also be given focus in this section.
In so doing, the researcher hopes to bring to focus the channel through which data will be collected. This is not only meant to bring clarity to this research but also help young researchers who will be interested in furthering research in this field to know the steps necessary to reach the desired results in a given research. The researcher has ensured that the methodology is not only important to the professionals in the education sector, but also to other related sectors.
Scope of Data Collection
Primary data for this research will be collected from the students and teachers of Royal Guard of Oman Technical College and Oman Medical College. This data will be collected with the help of a questionnaire. The scope of data collection is limited to the two categories of individuals. This is because of the time that is available for the research. Because most of the students and teachers were Omani nationals, they clearly understood the social structure of the institutions of higher learning and therefore, were in a position to respond appropriately to questions regarding effectiveness of human resource development programs at the two institutions.
They also understand how this affected the performance of the two learning institutions. The level of accuracy needed in this research can be achieved within this scope. Secondary data will be gathered from existing literature about the effectiveness of human resource development programs in learning institutions, and other related institutions in this country.
There will be two key methods to be used to gather information in this research. The first one will be through a questionnaire, which will be physically delivered to the sample population at the two institutions at their main campuses. The questionnaire seeks to capture various attitudes of students and members of staff of regarding effectiveness of human resource development programs in public and private sectors in Oman (Sofo 2007, p. 36).
The second source of information that will be used for the research is a review of literatures on various aspects of human resource development programs in general, and the operational activities that takes place within these two institutions about this issue. The focus of the literature review will be to find information on the application of motivation techniques within the workplace and to determine the current state of research in relation to the use of human resource development programs at the two learning institutions (Werner & DeSimone 2012, p. 89). The questionnaire will have four parts.
The first part will seek to capture the background information of respondents. The second part will deal with the demography and gender of the respondents. This is to ascertain the prevalence of views in various categories in order to ensure that if any differences came about, then they would be captured in their demographic space. The third part will deal with academic credentials and work experience of the respondents. The motivation for this section comes from the understanding that different sections of population respond differently to issues, based on age and academic credentials. The fourth part will dwell on the specific issues relating to effectiveness of human resource development program in public and private sectors in Oman with focus on the two institutions of higher learning.
The questionnaire will also employ a mix of open and closed ended questions to capture different aspects of issues studied. Open-ended questions will be used because they give respondents more time to figure out their opinions, which would make them volunteer more information related to feelings, outlooks, and comprehension of the subject (Murray 2006, p. 47). This will allow the researcher to understand the position of respondents as regards to feelings.
Open-ended questions also minimize some errors that could have been created in the course of research. Respondents rarely forget answers if given an opportunity to respond freely. Furthermore, respondents cannot ignore some questions because they must go through all of them. Open-ended questions generate data that can be used in data analysis by other researchers. In other words, they allow secondary data analysis. On the other hand, closed-ended questions are analyzed easily. That is why they will be used in this study (Taylor 2005, p. 116).
Each response can be coded for statistical interpretation. Nonetheless, closed-ended questions are compatible with computer analysis package. The technique is more specific, meaning that its answers are consistent in all conditions. This aspect is impossible with open-ended questions because each respondent is allowed to use his or her own words. Finally, closed-ended questions take less time to administer unlike open-ended questions, which are detailed hence time consuming.
The questionnaire will be sent to respondents using drop and pick method. The researcher arrived at this decision after considering time and resources. The method is time consuming, but very effective. Furthermore, the method allows respondents to reflect on the questions and answer them accurately (Andrzej & Buchaman 2007, p. 81). Moreover, the method is not affected by the respondent’s level of literacy. One big advantage of the technique is that there is interaction between the researcher and the researched. This means that respondent’s reactions are easily captured. Reactions are important because they give more information regarding the feelings of respondents.
The literature that will be collected will provide information regarding various theories related to human resource development programs, which is spread across the last century. The body of literature will avail a number of theories dealing with sampling and sample designs in the field of education, and performance issues in the context of human resource development in the education sector. Royal Guard of Oman and Oman Medical College fit well within this parameter.
Finally, the literature will provide information on the state of research on the field. Various researchers have conducted studies on various elements of social integration and human resource development programs, and their effects on motivation (Kumar 2004, p. 35). This will give the study a sound academic backing and a strong basis for drawing comparisons and conclusions.
The use of the questionnaire will make it possible to capture issues that are unique to the two institutions of higher learning, and determine ways in which this can be generalized to other public and private sectors in this country. This is because there are limited literatures with required degree of relevance to the subject matter on the two institutions chosen for this research (Gilley 2002, p. 22). The targeted staff and students will respond to the questionnaires, which will be physically delivered to them.
The availability of staff influenced the choice of this method because it is not possible at any one time to find all of them in one place. Physical delivery of the questionnaire will increase the accuracy of data collected, as there will be interactivity (Leedy 2010, p. 117). After collection, the data will go through analysis, which will culminate into observations and conclusions that will be discussed in chapter four and five of the dissertation respectively.
Sampling method used for this survey
There are some factors that should be put into consideration when choosing the right method of sampling in any given research project. In this research, precision is needed. The best method that would lead to the desired results is stratified sampling (Calabrese 2006, p. 45). As stated above, this method is simple to use and it is appropriate when one intends to use data quantitatively. The researcher settled on this method because the research population can be divided into subgroups for clarity purposes. The sample can then be divided into subgroups so that each group gets equal representation (Massey 2009, p. 72). Having identified the two strata as students and staff of Royal Guard of Oman and Oman Medical College, the staff will be given more weight because of the significance of their answers to this research.
Methods of data analysis
Data analysis refers to the process of transforming raw data into refined useful information that can be of use to people. Glatthorn (2005, p. 52) advises that before settling on a method of data analysis, it is important to set the approach to be taken by the research. The research can take quantitative, qualitative, or categorical approach. This research will take a quantitative approach. Depending on the type and accuracy needed, data analysis can take a simple descriptive form, or a more complex statistical inferencing (Creswell 2009, p. 61).
The technique used in the analysis can be univariate analysis, bivariate analysis or multivariate analysis. In selecting the appropriate method, a researcher should ensure that assumptions relating to the method are satisfied (Dunleavy 2003, p. 27). In analyzing the collected data, the researcher will use appropriate statistical data analysis tools such as descriptive and inferential statistics in analyzing quantitative data.
In relation to the quantitative analysis, Miller (2011, p. 118) argued that the most commonly used sets of statistics include mean, frequencies, standard deviation, median, and percentages. The researcher will code and enter the quantitative data into Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS version 20). Using SPSS, the researcher will use cross tabulation to compare effectiveness of human resource development programs at Royal Guard of Oman Technical College, and that in Oman Medical College, and use this data to make a generalization about effectiveness of human resource development programs at public and private institutions in Oman (Martin 2006, p. 56).
The researcher will also use descriptive statistics such as mean, standard deviation, percentage, and frequencies to describe the properties of the target population. Further, the researcher will use tables, figures, and charts to present the findings of the study. Because the research entails comparison of the performance of the two institutions of higher learning, the researcher will employ correlational analysis to bring to enhance clarity.
Therefore, chi-square tests will be used to test the hypotheses. Inferential statistics like chi-square tests help to test whether the observed relationships between the variables are genuine or due to chance. The statistical significance level used in the research is 0.05 indicating whether the observed association occurred by chance in 5 out of 100 results (Rowntree 2008, p. 72). Chi-square is the most widely used measure of association in social science research, being suitable for use on nominal, ordinal, interval, and ratio data (Walsh 2010, p. 71).
Reliability and validity of the method
Validity means appropriateness, applicability, and truthfulness of a study. It refers to the ability of research instruments to produce results that are in agreement with theoretical and conceptual values (Tanke 2000, p. 43). In this study, internal validity will ensured through checking the representativeness of the sample. The researcher will ensure that the sample used capture all the important characters at the two learning institutions as the target institution, and the Omani business environment, especially the environment in and around Muscat city, as the immediate environment of our study. During data collection process and in analysis, the researcher will steer away from any form of bias.
All the respondents will be picked randomly, without any preference. Moreover, the response that will be received from the teaching staff and students of these two learning institutions, and other stakeholders will be assigned a similar weight, depending on their category without giving any priority to any of the two institutions. This will ensure that data that is collected is not in any way, influenced by the opinion of the researcher (Rowntree 2008, p. 124).
External validity will be ensured through triangulation that is, the researcher will use more than one technique in collecting data. This is necessary to ensure that bias from one end is countered effectively by other techniques. As Delving (2006, p. 65) said, respondents are human beings with weaknesses when it comes to giving views freely. They would always exaggerate or underrate things when they make statements. Working with this in mind, the researcher will design a formula to moderate data gathered from the field to balance off the two extremes. The researcher will find literature review to be very important in this part because the opinions they have are already moderated. External validity will also guaranteed by asking respondents to give their views. This will give them freedom of some sort, to provide information based on their own experience and views.
Reliability means that the study is consistent and lacks any ambiguity. It refers to the ability to trust something to provide an information that addresses the issue at hand. Dane (2010, p. 78) explains that it is related to the accuracy of instruments that is, how accurate the measuring device is in measuring what it claims to measure. In this study, it will be achieved through increasing verifiability of the perspective and using statistical tools to verify reliability. The researcher will adopt the principles of coherence, openness, and discourse in order to guarantee reliability.
According to Clement and Henry (2010, p. 61), it is very important to maintain ethics in any piece of research. In this study, the researcher will be keen to maintain a high degree of ethics in order to achieve the desired result without compromising the quality of the data or their sources. The researcher will ensure that all the respondents in this research remain anonymous. This will ensure that they are not exposed to any form of prejudice because of the information they give during this research. The researcher will not reveal their names or addresses that can make them be exposed to third parties to this research.
The researcher will avoid any form of bias on gender, race, religion, or any other social and affiliations. All the secondary sources of data used will be cited as appropriate, and this research will steer away from any form of academic malpractices. The research will avoid any controversial issue that has not been proven through empirical research, and will treat such information as rumors. Appropriate primary data will be used to empirically support the arguments of the researcher, and to back up the secondary data gathered through the review of literatures. This would further enhance the validity of this research (Murray 2006, p. 118).
Timeline of the research
It is important to have a clear plan on how the available time will be used to ensure that this research is brought to a successful completion. At this planning stage, it is necessary to draw a timetable that would define all the activities that will be undertaken in this research, and the time that would be needed to complete them. This will help in predicting the possible completion time of the research. The researcher can use this timetable to set out all the activities and know how to arrange all the actions needed at every stage of the research. Defining the activities will also help in identifying some of the challenges that can be met in the research, and how they can be mitigated.
The research will also be able to factor in time that would be consumed while mitigating these challenges. This research is expected to take a period of three months. The Gantt chart below specifies the activities that will be carried out in this project
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