Labour market localisation policies and organizational responses: an analysis of the aims and effects of the Saudi Nitaqat reforms

Basahal, A., Forde, C., Mackenzie, R. (2021) International Journal of Organisational Analysis

The aim of this paper is twofold. First, to understand the degree to which the intended outcomes of Saudi’s Nitaqat labour market policy corresponds to the actual responses from private companies. Second, to investigate how these gaps between policy intentions and actual outcomes have informed recent changes to Nitaqat policy. This paper uses a qualitative approach with a case study design and thematic analysis procedures. Data were obtained from the following three sources: semi-structured interviews completed during the early stage of Nitaqat in 2013–2014 with nine policymakers and 44 key stakeholders from six private Saudi companies; policy documents and gray literature on the aims and effects of the Nitaqat program; and available peer-reviewed literature on the subject. This paper sets out and analyses the following four main goals of Nitaqat: First, to increase the Saudi national employment rate, second, increase company efficiency, third, improve human resource capabilities, and fourth, increase female labour participation. This paper reveals that although Nitaqat has certainly resulted in a positive change in some of these areas, in other areas, there remain gaps between the intentions and the actual effects of Nitaqat. This paper analyses recent changes to Nitaqat and argues that further changes may be needed to achieve the full goals of Nitaqat. This paper’s originality lies in its analysis of the aims of labour market policies and organisational responses. It highlights the reasons for disconnections between the policy aims and organisational practices and explores how policymakers react and respond to these implementation gaps.

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