Building knowledge absorptive capacity in South African public companies through recruitment practices


  • Malefetjane Phaladi Durban University of Technology



knowledge management, knowledge risk management, human resource management, recruitment practices, tacit knowledge loss, state-owned enterprises, knowledge absorptive capacity, south africa


Most state-owned companies (SOCs) in South Africa are in a perpetual struggle to recruit human resources and replenish their intangible knowledge asset losses that are largely due to high employee turnover. The study is interdisciplinary in nature, presenting a strong link between recruitment practice, employee turnover, knowledge loss and knowledge absorptive capacity. The research project used a mixed methods exploratory sequential design by gathering in-depth qualitative data through interviews with 20 human resource managers in 9 SOCs. Survey data was collected from a 25% response rate to the 585 distributed questionnaires. The survey instrument was tested for reliability with a Cronbach’s alpha at 0.94. The qualitative data extracted through the interviews were analyzed thematically using Atlas.ti software, whilst the quantitative data were analysed using Statistical Analysis Software (SAS). The findings revealed that due to increased human resources mobility, human resource management (HRM) establishments in many SOCs were in a perpetual struggle to fill vacancies in mission-critical areas. Knowledge-loss induced by human resource attrition was a serious challenge in most SOCs. On a positive note, the study revealed that recruitment practices were knowledge-driven, largely because they supported SOCs in the sourcing of the required company-specific human and knowledge resources, albeit some extant challenges. The study concluded that HRM recruitment practices build knowledge absorptive capacity in South African SOCs.