Al Sakka, FAM
Human capital development in special economic zones the case of Dubai
, PhD thesis, University of Salford.
The notion of human capital as an economic asset was first emerged in 1961 when Theodore Schultz coined the phrase. In the current most serious economic crisis since the 1930s, strategists and analysts in governments and commercial institutions are turning to people as being the most important asset in regaining economic stability and growth.
This study aims to establish a framework to measure the impact of special economic zones on human capital accumulation within the context of Dubai. This framework will help decision makers to set up effective policies for future economic zones and to focus resources on key factors to accelerate the development of local human capital which is vital for the city’s economic growth. The specific research questions were: To what level does human capital accumulation occur within Dubai SEZs? What characterises human capital development in SEZs? What are the drivers of human capital development in Dubai SEZs?
The research was carried out in three phases. The first phase was an exploratory study used to localise the variables, introduce adjustment, validate, verify, discuss variables obtained from the literature review, and to present the conceptual framework. The second phase measured the impact as well as the relationship of each variable on human capital development, to explain how human capital is developed within special economic zone firms, to gather more data and information about the localised variables influencing human capital development, and to collect data to build up a Human Capital Index. The third phase compares the impact of special economic zones on human capital in a cross comparison of firms’ development.
An in-depth literature review was conducted on human capital and special economic zones. By focusing on the macro and micro levels, the study shed light on the factors that drive human capital development. The study established a framework to measure the impact of special economic zones on human capital accumulation within the context of Dubai. The proposed framework is characterised by education level, years of experience, the level of continuous knowledge accumulation, employees’ ability to build competence, and the application of the learnt education, knowledge and practice. The framwork proposed that human capital development is driven by the firm’s type, size, financial performance, free zone level of clustering, culture of avoidance and collectivness, and finally, the level of technical know-how spillover.
The research concludes that human capital development does take place in Dubai special economic zones but at a moderate level. Human capital development is affected by the firm’s type, its financial performance, the level of clustering in the free zone, and what level of technical know-how spillover has influenced human capital development within Dubai free zones. In contrast, the culture of collectiveness is realised to have a minor effect on human capital development within free zone firms, while an avoidance culture is recognised to have no impact whatsoever.
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