Managing the human resource in Indian SMEs: The role of indigenous realities

Debi S. Saini, Pawan S. Budhwar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper discusses how issues of people management are addressed in Indian small and medium enterprises (SMEs). It also highlights the indigenous approaches to human resource management (HRM) that have surfaced in the Indian SME context. The research formulation has been built on the mapping of people-management practices in two SME case studies, one of which is also a family-based organization. The analysis shows that indigenous realities in HRM in Indian SMEs relate mainly to the provision of financial, emotional and social support to the workforce; employee involvement (EI) practices; recruitment; skill development; managing employee relations; and managing vis-à-vis labor law framework. The paper argues that in the sphere of people management in SMEs, the willingness to innovate and formalize the HR systems is constrained by a kind of bounded rationality, i.e., the owners of SMEs mostly believe that they are already doing what is humanly possible in this regard. The analysis has an important message for concerned practitioners—in order to realize their full potential and to progress towards fulfilling their vision; SMEs eventually have to intertwine indigenization and formalization for their people management approaches.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-434
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of World Business
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008


  • HRM
  • SMEs
  • India
  • industrial relations
  • indigenous practices


Dive into the research topics of 'Managing the human resource in Indian SMEs: The role of indigenous realities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this