Original Research

Greening is not a priority for human resource: Insights from human resource practitioners

Vuyokazi N. Mtembu
Acta Commercii | Vol 18, No 1 | a577 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ac.v18i1.577 | © 2018 Vuyokazi N. Mtembu | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 November 2017 | Published: 28 August 2018

About the author(s)

Vuyokazi N. Mtembu, Graduate School of Business and Leadership, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa


Orientation: In the 21st century, human resource (HR) practitioners are expected to be agile, transformative and environmentally conscious. HR operations are required to be aligned with the current environmental trends to ensure business sustainability and profitability.

Research purpose: The aim of this study is to determine whether the implementation of green human resource management (HRM) practices in organisations is a priority or not, and also to investigate the perceptions of HR practitioners on the implementation of green HRM in organisations.

Motivation for the study: Although green HRM studies have been conducted on various continents, there is a paucity of information on green HRM on the African continent. The researcher was motivated to investigate the status of green HRM in the African context considering socio-economic development challenges and other pressing priorities that developing African countries and organisations are facing.

Research design, approach and method: Qualitative research method was employed in the study. Twenty human resource managers and senior practitioners from higher education institutions formed the population interviewed. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data collected.

Main findings: Results revealed that the majority of HR practitioners have a perception that greening activities should not be in a list of priorities for the HR division. The results also revealed that HR practitioners are not experts on greening issues and that there were no green HR policies in the institutions surveyed. As a result, the HR division plays little to no role in greening initiatives within the institutions.

Practical/managerial implications: Information from the study can be used to advise managers and HR policymakers on the importance of infusing an environmental sustainability concept in HR policies, and also on how green HRM can be implemented effectively within organisations.

Contribution/value-add: This study extends green HRM discourse by investigating the importance of green HRM implementation in an African institution.


green human resource management; resource efficiency; sustainability; environmental organisations


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