Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Human Resource Management in Brunei Essay

Rousseau (1990) defines culture as a set of common values and understandings obtained through socialization (Noe, Hollenbeck, Gerhart, & Wright, 2008). As such, the Islamic laws define the fundamental customs and lifestyle of Bruneians. Nevertheless, culture is an elusive behavior, which can be refined and redefined as the macro-environment changes. We explore how attitudes and perspective can be changed, in order to better adapt to technologies through laws and policies, without contradicting the essentials of Islamic culture thus improving their economy. The General Order in Brunei provides employees with high social security and benefits; they are entitled to ‘lifetime employment’ (Dore, 1973). Thus leading to insufficient supply of jobs for the younger generation who makes up the largest percentage of the unemployment rate. Additionally, paternalism is evident in Brunei; superiors act as a father figure in the organization and employees show utmost respect for their managers. Thus illustrating the relationship between cultural influences and organizational behavior. Foreign investments and tourism in Brunei have been severely impeded due to their inflexible Islamic culture, hence affecting Brunei’s integration with the world. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Pakistan, the importance of ‘liberation of visa regulations’ will ‘boost tourism and trade opportunities’ (Ying Chua, 2010). However in Brunei, regulations on foreign investments must comply with the standard of their Islamic laws, which hinder growth. Thus, exemplifying that culture affects its economy as it set the boundary of Brunei’s business environment. It is difficult for Brunei to fully integrate their economy with western countries due to very differing culture. Nonetheless, she can aim to be the capital for the Islamic world. For example, it can be the financial capital for the Middle Eastern countries, or even the world main supplier for Halal food in the world. This acts as a double-edge sword for Brunei because Brunei will not compromise their rich culture for economical gains. However before attaining such standards, Brunei has to examine their technological infrastructure and whether Bruneians are ready to adapt themselves for changes. Bruneians pride themselves on their rich Islamic culture hence they are less receptive to changes that appear to be in conflict. The sultanate laws never inculcated the use of technology until the mid 21st century, the government through its education system (Ganske & Hamidon, 2006). However the older generation, which the workforce mainly consists, is less responsive to such drastic changes. Firstly, it is against their culture to voice differing viewpoints to their superiors as it is considered disrespectful therefore, severely curtailing their initiative thus breeding complacency and conformity. Secondly, the lack of formalization (Chan, Foo, Nelson, Timbrell, & Othman, 2010) contradicted the implementation of new technologies; ‘the announcement to embark on e-government (a B$1 billion project) was made in 2000 but it was not until 2003 that the actual planning started (Kifle & Cheng, 2009)’, this 3 years gap have left many Bruneians confused about the process and pro gress. Language is part of a country’s culture. (Bakar, 2008). Therefore any language differences, will significantly hinder Bruneians’ adaptation to technology. Brunei’s national language is Malay while new technologies developed are instructed in English. This sudden change in the use language has adversely impeded on their adaptation. Nevertheless, this is only applicable to the older generation as Brunei government has enforced bilingualism in their current education system. A shift in their language culture from solely Malay to bilingualism will enhance their adaptation to new technology hence fulfilling Brunei’s vision of becoming an e-government whereby all traditional manual paperwork are electronically done. It is indisputable that Brunei will always be ruled by a strict set of Islamic laws, which forms the core principle of the country. Nonetheless, the problems faced by Brunei can be corrected through prudent laws and policies that can be inculcated as part of their culture. Culture shapes the fundamental of the legal and political system in Brunei. The Sultanate laws favour the Brunei Malays because of their shared values and customs while indigenous minorities are viewed inferior (Braighlinn, 1992). This partial treatment could potentially jeopardies Brunei’s economy by distancing relationships with developed countries because of very differing culture and customs and these developed countries have valuable resources, which Bruneians can acquire from. For example, skilled professionals from other countries will be hesitant to enter Brunei’s workforce because they have slower social advancement and benefits. This can be improved on without changing the core principles of Islamism. Furthermore, it is because of their traditional principle of ‘strict essence of conformity and consensus’ (Kramar & Syed, 2012) that has tremendously thwarted their country’s global integration. Brunei’s doctrine, ‘does not allow organization or individual to challenge the government and its policies’, has adversely stunts employees’ initiative. The Majesty criticized their work indifference, working ‘just like a robot with no direction, initiative or common sense’ (Low, Zain, & Ang, 2012). Such inflexible and flaccid work-attitude, would only curtail individual’s motivation at work and more drastically, leading to colossal losses to the organization. To a great extent culture sets the tone of how a country should be governed by defining the boundaries of their operations. However, we can no longer say that a country’s culture is a separate entity from its political system or from its economy or even their adaptation to technology. Culture orientates the parameters of one’s laws and policies, which in turn affects the growth of its economy. Likewise, a technologically cultured country brought about through good policies, could bring about many benefits to its economy. All these factors are intertwined and together they work as a whole system as to how a country, whether private or public companies, should be run. However there are certain strategies which the government can undertake to help individual adapt to the technology. The Government Employee Management System (GEMS) is a project, which aims in achieving an interactive and integrated public service. (Brunei Government Prime Minister’s Office 2010) Human Resource Management (HRM) consists of 2 main functions; the process of managing people in the organization in a structured and thorough manner, e.g. hiring people and retention of people. Secondly, the management of people within an organization e.g. managing relationship between management and employees. Critically, HRM requires the use of technology-based platforms to ensure efficiency and high-productivity of an organization. Thus, the importance of implementing GEMS and ensuring success to facilitate HRM better. Introduction of the use of technical system for HRM Government Employee Management System (GEMS) is a web-based system that enables, â€Å"efficient data input and greater transparency, which allows better management of HRM practices such as recruitment, compensation and benefit.† (Brunei Government Prime Minister’s Office 2010) To achieve greater effectiveness, GEMS will automate a significant number of tasks that were previously done manually. Employees’ information will now be kept in a database accessible to all departments, and it will be easily attainable. It would fasten decision-making because information would be readily available whenever required. Responses of Advancement of technology in HRM However, GEMS was not well received by employees. The Majority of the population belongs to the Malay community, thus finding it difficult to adapt to the English web-based system. Strategies that involve Human Resource enable individual employees to adjust themselves to technological changes Re-training of Employees GEMS was found as a complex system, training is thus, crucial to assist staff and officers to adapt and operate GEMS effectively. Training will greatly assist employees to better manage GEMS, as employees would be able to constructively operate the new system independently. Further mentoring is needed to ensure employees have fully comprehended the use of the system. At the same time creating a sense of achievement and often boost employee’s morale. However, there are several disadvantages and cost to re-train employees. Firstly, the large amount of people in an organization makes it difficult to schedule trainings (N Nayab 2010). Secondly, training requires a lot of time and ample resources, which could be economically disadvantageous in the short run. Hence, organization should thoroughly consider the pro et contra before sending employees for re-trainings. Motivating of employees Another key approach to assist staff and officers to adapt effectively to such changes is through motivation. Rewarding Employees A reward system can be created to encourage the use of technology. A good strategy to ensure adaptation for employees would be the use of monetary benefits. For example, HRM could implement an incentive plan by recognizing its employees for its efforts to adapt and use new technologies. It aims to acknowledge good performance and address the gap between the organization goals set for employees and the final outcomes. Increase job satisfaction of employee The more contented an employee is with its job, the higher possibility an employee would be adaptive to changes. (Richard W. Scholl 2003) Employers can consider satisfying employees’ job satisfaction, such as pay, working hours and job security. With job satisfaction, employees would be more adaptive to changes and the willingness to ensure effective operation of GEMS, which in result beneficial to the company in the long run. However, motivation is subjective. While it can empower employees and employers, its effect may be short term. Therefore, effort must be made consistently, for it will not be able to fulfil its long term effect of adaptation towards new organization goals. Strategies by Singapore Government A country’s adaptation towards technology is nurtured over time, and Singapore is a good example for Brunei to help individual adapt to technology. Singapore encourages technology development in its bid to become the next Silicon Valley (Gregory Gromov 1986). Singapore Government has created schemes and funding, which include cash grants, tax incentives and debt financing (AsianOne 2009). Brunei Government could also implement special schemes and grants dedicated to attract setup and ensure success, encouraging entry of foreign technology investors. This will subsequently, benefit Brunei as it helps risk reduction, in terms of investment in the long run. To further encourage the development of new innovations, SPRING Singapore has a special Technology Innovation Programme (TIP) for those who are able to develop new inventions or improve existing ones (SPRING Singapore 2012). Such programs and campaigns could be implemented in Brunei, encouraging Brunei to be exposed to the latest technology available, resulting in the increase of tech savvy consumers over the years. The above are just some strategies, which Brunei can adopt to help individual adapt to technological changes. There are many other strategies and prudent policies which Brunei can mirror, modeled by the western countries without compromising its core principle of Islamism. HRM is not culturally neutral. The nature of the scope is linked with local institutions, labour laws, corporate strategies and industrial relations vary greatly across national borders. Social Rights Bruneian adheres to the MIB ideology, a set of guiding values with the incorporation of the importance of Islam as a religion. This strict rule over the country means there are limitations to the freedom of speech, freedom of associations and collective bargaining (Kramar & Syed, 2012). However, despite the strict conformity, the government has adopted flexible and family-friendly policies (Kramar & Syed, 2012). For instance, General Order states that one should work no more than 8 hours and there are flexibilities when family responsibilities arise. America offers a much higher degree of freedom to its people. In the case of her stipulated law, â€Å"employees shall have the right to organize and to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and shall be free from the interference, restraint, or coercion of employers†¦. in the designation of such representatives.† (Stough, 1933). This leads to the formation of Labour Unions, which give the workers’ rights to negotiate terms with the management. The political system of the two countries sets them apart. In Brunei, HRM has to adhere to the country’s strict conformity, affecting multiple HRM issues such as appointments, discipline, work etiquette and appointments. Its people have little or no say over what is decided for them, unlike America. This social rights has seen the formation of Labour unions; an idea in which the government of Brunei will never tolerate. Sociocultural Individualism vs. Collectivism Brunei is more of a collectivist – the working environment culture is such that the people who work together are closely knitted, like a big family (Salleh & Clarke). Supervisors and officers are treated with respect like that of a parent (Kramar & Syed, 2012). Employees have no qualms sharing any problems and issues with their managers. Such informal relationship leads to total loyalty to their group; it gives the workers the sense of belonging and security. America, on the other hand, is represented by individualism (Gorrill, 2007). The need to develop personal relationships is less significant in comparison to Brunei. Individual performances are, instead, highly valued in American culture; managers are only approached for help in essential situations (Gorrill, 2007). The American corporations subscribe to formal corporate planning procedures and are generally viewed as unconcerned with promoting long-term loyalty to the organisation (Beechler, Najjar, Stucker, & Bird, 1996). Thus, a highly competitive work ethic is cultivated, leading to less job security Low vs. High Power Distance With a hierarchical relationship in place, Brunei is thought to possess a high power distance. However, it is not the case. The nurturance and care provided to the subordinates by their superiors imply that a paternalistic relationship is present (Aycan, et al., 2001). In return, the subordinate are loyal to their superior. The relationship positively impacts on the employee participation rates in decision making and problem solving. Evidently, it lowers the power distance between managers and their subordinates. Western cultures are, more than often, represented with a low power distance, thus a certain degree of informality is present. However, in America, an authoritative and organisational hierarchy is very much accepted and entrenched in its business culture (Dana, 2010). In other words, decisions are made from the top. The hierarchical chain of command often supersedes personal relationship and clear distinctions are made between work colleagues and friends (Gorrill, 2007). These leads to a significant power distance between managers and employees. Economy The economic context of a country is hardly predictable and stable, but it is most likely to have long-term consequences for HRM (Kramar & Syed, 2012). The supply and demand of labour forces vary accordingly to the country’s unemployment level. Supply and demand of labour force The benefits offered by the Brunei’s public sector, coupled with the family-style work culture, create a stable and secured work environment. As such, a job position will, almost, only be available when someone retires or resigns (Kramar & Syed, 2012). This brings about minimal turnover and thus, leads to an oversupply of labour force. America also faces unemployment issues but however, causes and implications are different and unlike Brunei, the issue is not a long term one. In the States, companies are unconcerned with long time loyalty and retrenchment may occur due to poor performances, intensifying job competition (Gorrill, 2007). Despite facing similar unemployment problems, HRM from the two countries has to tackle the problem very differently. When 1,000 applicants apply for a job with only 4 vacancies, HRM in Brunei has to ensure the right people are hired for the jobs (Kramar & Syed, 2012). (Salleh & Clarke)While in America, HRM faces the challenges of recruiting people for jobs because intense job competitions bring about a lack of job security. Bibliography AsianOne (2009), Singapore Press Holdings Ltd., Singaporeans second most tech savvy in the world, viewed 15 February 2013 . Aycan, Z., Kanungo, R. 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