Bešić, A; Hirt, C. & Rahimić, Z. (2022). "We are quite well prepared" – Developing HR systems in response to the Covid-19 pandemic in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In: Wieczorek-Kosmala, M; Gurkov, I. & Steger, T. (Eds). Challenges of Management in the COVID-19 Reality. Journal of East European Management Studies (JEEMS). Special Issue. Baden-Baden: Nomos: 28-48. DOI: 10.5771/9783957103987
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The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a worldwide crisis and profoundly affected businesses. Since governmental support is limited, companies in transition economies are particularly vulnerable to crises. In our study, we address the question of how companies from the banking sector in the transition economy of Bosnia and Herzegovina utilise their HR practices to deal with the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic. Postulating the need for a strategic approach, we assume that HR systems can help banks to face the challenge: sink or swim through the pandemic. Based on strategic human resource and crisis management, we exploit group interviews with six banks to identify HR practice bundles. Contrary to traditional crisis management, we identify HR practices which aim at stabilising instead of downsizing in order to survive. Our findings show a positive development in Bosnian banks towards a more strategic HR; however, with only rudimentary HR practice bundles which focus on employee engagement, strengthening company culture and digitalisation to achieve a horizontal fit. We discuss implications for HR practitioners and suggest actionable principles to help HR managers respond to future crises. Future research can benefit from further exploring horizontal HR practice fit in a dynamic environment.