Human resource management is a department in an organization concerned with the affairs of the people working in that organization (Ahmad 12). According to Siddique (15), it is concerned with recruitment, management and guiding of the employees. Some of the employees’ issues that it tackles include remuneration, training, performance, promotion among others (Ahmad 13). In the current management, it forms part of strategic management within an organization. This resulted from the interest to managing human resource from both an academic and practical interests (Budhwar and Debrah 16). There are various observable differences between human resource management in a rich country and poor country. This results from different development stages of between two countries. In the rich country, there is much development in terms of technology which eases the management of human resource while in the poor country; there is a lot of backwardness in terms of management (Brewster 85). In this paper, we are going to consider at a case study of two countries; United Arab Emirates which is a rich country in comparison to Sudan which is a poor country.
United Arab Emirates (UAE) is located in the Middle East part of the globe. It comprises of several states that united together to form a single state. These countries include Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharja, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras Al-Khaimah and Umm al-Quwain (Budhwar and Debrah 26). It has one president who leads the whole country. The capital city of the state is Abu Dhabi. According to Siddique(5), the state is led by a constitution founded in 1971 after the independence, but this does not hinder ruling of individual states. The main economic drive of UAE is petroleum mining and export followed by manufacturing. It has a population of about 8.9 million people (Siddique 6). The main religion is Islam, with English and Arabic being the main languages.
Sudan is located in the African continent. It borders various countries such as Ethiopia, Chad, Eretria, Egypt, and Libya among others (Siddique 12). It is located on the northern part of Africa stretching to the Red sea shore, and thus it is sometimes considered to be in Middle East (Budhwar and Debrah 31). There was a split of the former Sudan country into the Republic of Sudan and Republic of South Sudan (Siddique 16). Its main religion is Islamic and the national language is Arabic. The capital city of Sudan is called Khartoum. The main economic activity is oil mining. Therefore, for the purpose of this paper, we will review the Republic of Sudan which is located in the northern part.
According to Budhwar and Mellahi (62-65), the political system of most Middle East countries is Islamic with many of them using the traditional Islamic form of leadership. This is the same case in countries such as United Arab Emirates and Sudan. They both have Islamic governance with Sudan being led in armed forces government. UAE has an Islamic government although it is more advanced in accepting modernization than other countries of Middle East countries (Ahmad 43). This strategically placed country in the Middle East supports free market system with current large attraction of foreign firms from Europe and America to have part of the market share (Budhwar and Mellahi 72). UAE government has shown a lot of interest in current HRM system. As noted by Budhwar and Mellahi (73-75), it has taken the role of training managers on HRM to increase output of employees.
In Sudan, there has been a high number of unemployment. Majority of the people are youth and children. The economy has not been performing well due to continuous wars that have been going on in the southern part (Budhwar and Mellahi 219-222). Therefore, human resource has not been endorsed in the country. Women are barred from working by the Islamic sharia law which categories them as minor members of the society in comparison to men (Siddique 10). Human resource has not been well practiced within the country.
UAE labour market is developed more in the private than in the public sector. Many firms have been sprouting in the country due to the enlarging market and dependable HRM that has been empowered by the government through trainings (Budhwar and Mellahi 60). There is low unemployment although the number is predicted to increase in the future if proper measures are not put in place. The government came up with stringent rules of “emiratization” recently with an aim of increasing the number of employment (Budhwar and Debrah 78). Every firm is to employ a defined number of employees every year. The law is strictly followed as failure to follow the law would lead to severe penalties and fines from the government (Budhwar and Mellahi 66-68). The private sector is the largest employer in the country.
This constitute of both local and foreign firms. UAE form of employment is different from most of other Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran. Its firms employ experts while the other countries employ non-skilled workers. They are trained on the job and are paid like expatriates. The increase in the number of foreigners in the country has resulted in multicultural diversity in the country. This is a mixture of western modernization and Islamic which promote healthy working environment (Budhwar and Debrah 26; Budhwar and Mellahi 74). The country has embraced electronic HRM. According to Budhwar and Mellahi (77), many firms use the technology to connect various HRM departments to the financial data of the company.
According to Budhwar and Mellahi (221-225), Industrial relations have been poor in Sudan. Despite the suffering of employees in the work places, their grievances have not been heard. The government has been more involved in maintaining peace in the country and thus less concerned with the sufferings of employees. In terms of technology, the country is less developed among the Middle East countries although it is rich in oil. There is a high number of unemployment in the country.
Education and Training
UAE government has a role of providing better education for the people. Many of the people in the country are educated as there is proper education system in place (Brewster 106). Employees are trained on various job experiences that are required in the country. Ministry of education has been on the forefront in adopting modern teaching techniques. This has been influenced by the high demand of well skilled workers in the employment sector especially the private sector. Budhwar and Mellahi (76), observes that foreign firms in UAE prefer employing high skilled workers different fields. The education facilities have been increased and expansion of the existing ones to increase enrolment of students.
The firms together with the government are involved in training employees to sharpen their skills. Vocational trainings are offered to employees where they acquire various skills that improve their output. Budhwar and Mellahi (77) further notes that, there has been observable improvement in management where managers have been attending workshop trainings on current management methods such as HRM and corporate social responsibility in UAE. In Sudan, there has been little investment in the education sector. This has been hindered by the civil wars which have hit the country for a long time. The ruling government of Omar El Bashir, is an army government which is run from the armed forces perspective rather than the economic perspective which would increase investment in the economy (Budhwar and Debrah 78). Many of the employees do not have the required education skills in their areas employment. According to Budhwar and Mellahi (224-227), non-skilled employees are employed, trained on how to perform various activities and are paid as experts. This is as a result of little education and training facilities in the country. There is little foreign investment which perhaps would have encouraged investment in the education sector except for oil firms.
National Culture and Human Resource Management
The culture of UAE and Sudan has a significant influence on the HRM. The culture of the two countries is mostly based on the Islam. This is because most of the citizens are Arabs of Islamic religion with few foreigners bringing a little diversity into the culture (Budhwar and Debrah 26). In UAE, most of the foreigners affect the culture of the country through their different religions such as Christians, Buddhist and Hindus (Budhwar and Mellahi 72).This is as a result of influx in the number of visiting foreigners who later settle or work there.
In both countries, Islamic laws especially sharia law and values influence the management systems of local firms (Budhwar and Debrah 26). Most managers tend to follow the rules and principles set in the holy book, Quran, in their management (Budhwar and Mellahi 58; Siddique 76; Brewster 199). This affects employment of women in the country and management practices in human resource management. Regardless of the high empowerment of women in UAE to enroll for education and employment opportunities, the number still remains extremely low. There is low contribution of women in the economic and social development (Budhwar and Debrah 36). This has been caused by the strict religious beliefs that define women jobs is taking care of homes (Budhwar and Mellahi 74). In the education system, women also do not take up the challenge of high paying jobs such as engineering, law, medicine among others. They take lesser courses that are more related to house activities such as nursing, catering, teaching among others. Islamic values influence management practices to a large extent. For example, Islamic employees meet for prayers twice everyday which can be termed as reducing their output (Brewster 253). Another effect is on family relations where culture is male dominated. Men head homes and many social and economic development projects in the community. Male leadership is authoritarian and what he says is termed to be correct and must be respected (Brewster 254).
HRM Policies and Practices
In UAE, HRM policies and practices are varied depending on the organization; private or public and depending on the type of employees either foreign of local. In places where managers are local Arabs, there are high nepotism practices (Budhwar and Mellahi 73-75). Managers seek to employ people of their tribe and relatives. However, it is declining in the private sector where most foreign firms are embracing diversity in employment. The high trainings being offered currently on HRM are helping reduction of these practices. Every employee is treated differently and salaries to some extent vary according to nationality of the employee (Budhwar and Debrah 35). Employee recruitment and selection is commonly outsourced to specialized agencies.
This is the same in Sudan where employment is also based on tribe and family relationships. Managers prefer employees whom they share either tribe or family background. This has also affected HRM in the country. Therefore, HRM policies and practices are also based on the nationality of an individual. There is little training of employees to sharpen their skills (Brewster 261). This has resulted from constrained resources for training as the country is healing from long time civil wars.
Since the two countries are of Arabic nature, UAE has developed from what Sudan is going through today. Therefore, Sudan has a lot to learn from UAE as it is structuring its economy after long civil wars with the current Republic of South Sudan. Sudan should learn from UAE the advantages opening of the economy into a capitalist which will encourage foreign investment and free markets. This includes embracing foreign investment in the country which will help in driving the economy and bringing new skills in HRM as they are more advanced in HRM. It should take a step of empowering women to take part in economic and social development through education, training and employment. UAE should take part in helping Sudan to structure its economy and HRM department. This will improve HRM and increase output from employees.
Challenges of HRM Manager
HRM manager in Middle East faces challenges in managing employees due to some of the following problems. These include strong relationship of the people in their culture and religion which adversely affect their output. This is the main hindrance to HRM development in the region as most management practices are based on the culture and religion of the people (Budhwar and Debrah 39). Another challenge facing HRM manager in Middle East is education gap between employees. Very few countries in the region have emphasized on employment of experts of various departments. Most firms in Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Sudan employ non-skilled workers who are trained on job performance.
From the information above, we can find that HRM departments are more developed in UAE than they are in Sudan. It shows a big disparity between the two despite the two countries being from the same region. There are differences in HRM in the two countries in political environment, education and labour market. UAE has advanced in labour management as compared to Sudan such it uses electronic methods. On the other hand, similarities occur in culture and HRM policies and practices. Both countries share national religion and cultural backgrounds. This brings about similarities in HRM management of the two countries despite a difference in economic development. Lastly, Sudan has a lot to learn from UAE as it has advanced in HRM development in order to improve on its HRM management systems. Lastly, a HRM manager in the Middle East region is liable to face a great challenge of cultural practices that highly influence HRM management practices in the region.
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