Hospitals in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) face major workforce challenges while having to deal with extraordinary high burdens of disease. The effectiveness of human resource management (HRM) is therefore of particular interest for these SSA hospitals. While, in general, the relationship between HRM and hospital performance is extensively investigated, most of the underlying empirical evidence is from western countries and may have limited validity in SSA. Evidence on this relationship for SSA hospitals is scarce and scattered. We present a systematic review of empirical studies investigating the relationship between HRM and performance in SSA hospitals. Following the PRISMA protocol, searching in seven databases (i.e., Embase, MEDLINE, Web of Science, Cochrane, PubMed, CINAHL, Google Scholar) yielded 2252 hits and a total of 111 included studies that represent 19 out of 48 SSA countries. From a HRM perspective, most studies researched HRM bundles that combined practices from motivation-enhancing, skills-enhancing, and empowerment-enhancing domains. Motivation-enhancing practices were most frequently researched, followed by skills-enhancing practices and empowerment-enhancing practices. Few studies focused on single HRM practices (instead of bundles). Training and education were the most researched single practices, followed by task shifting. From a performance perspective, our review reveals that employee outcomes and organizational outcomes are frequently researched, whereas team outcomes and patient outcomes are significantly less researched. Most studies report HRM interventions to have positively impacted performance in one way or another. As researchers have studied a wide variety of (bundled) interventions and outcomes, our analysis does not allow to present a structured set of effective one-to-one relationships between specific HRM interventions and performance measures. Instead, we find that specific outcome improvements can be accomplished by different HRM interventions and conversely that similar HRM interventions are reported to affect different outcome measures. In view of the high burden of disease, our review identified remarkable little evidence on the relationship between HRM and patient outcomes. Moreover, the presented evidence often fails to provide contextual characteristics which are likely to induce variety in the performance effects of HRM interventions. Coordinated research efforts to advance the evidence base are called for.
- Health workforce
- Systematic review