Margaret Huebner: Building the Human Resources Function at Oman’s Port of Salalah

by: Dana Sumpter, Mona Zanhour

Publication Date: July 14, 2020
Length: pages
Product ID#: 7-901-521

Core Disciplines: Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, International Business, Leadership/Organizational Behavior, Strategy & Management

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Second place winner in WDI Publishing’s MENA Case Writing Competition “Doing Business in the Middle East North Africa Region,” sponsored by Michigan Ross Executive Education.

This case describes how consultant Margaret Huebner successfully updated the human resources (HR) function for the emergent Port of Salalah in the Sultanate of Oman in the early 2000s. The Port was at a promising stage of development when Huebner arrived and aspired to grow into a world-class shipping hub and employer of choice for Oman. However, its HR procedures were barely existent. The Port needed to hire hundreds of new employees, and its rapid growth was outpacing its compensation structure, job design, and communications system. The case provides an overview of the Port’s business and workforce and then details the contextual features of the organization and nation, including the country’s Omanization efforts to hire and retain local employees in key leadership positions and the role of women in the workforce. The strategic, business-oriented approach Huebner employed can serve as an example of how expatriates can affect organizational change while being respectful of local culture.

How can Huebner exit her consulting role while ensuring the programs she built continued to thrive? What key points of concern must she address in terms of continuity and local acceptance? Which programs are most critical for the Port to maintain the organizational changes Huebner helped induce?

Teaching Objectives

After reading and discussing the material, students should:

  • Understand cultural business differences and strategies for working with a diverse employee group to build effective organizational functions.
  • Identify strategies for working with key formal and informal organizational leaders across cultural differences.
  • Analyze the effectiveness of HR processes, considering both organizational strategy, cultural norms, and labor laws.
  • Plan for succession when departing from a business consulting project.