However, the differences are not just political; there exist major cultural differences between the western countries and that of Brunei. As previously established, the culture in a country manifests itself in the HR practices. Although the Brunei system is open to some extent, it cannot compare to the level of openness that is practiced in the western world. The Brunei system is one where superiors are held in awe, and their word is final. However, the HRM practice in the west is such that there is a lot of decentralization of power to individuals and to institutions. There are no powerful superiors, and thus the supervisor is almost the equal to the employee. The hiring and firing are also very controlled since employees have unions which are very powerful.
In the public sector, the Brunei HRM policies are guided by the circulars from the Sultan. However, western governments' public bodies have pre-designed HRM policies. The policies are either set by the board, or the HR manager in consultation with the CEO. Each public body is established through legislation. In the West, the government or the head of state cannot direct a public body on how to recruit or fire unless the legislative arm of government makes such a law (Pichault and Schoenaers, 2003).
Another area of divergence is on the level of adoption of technology. Western HR practices have fully adopted technology in their operations. While Brunei HRM struggles to empower their employees on the use of technology, the labor force in the west has already adopted the technology, and is well-versed in the use of it. The HRM in the west is vary familiar with and has incorporated technology in such duties as log-in checker, benefits and loan applications (Laughton, 2012). An employee in the west will just need to log in using a given password and can then access the HR from anywhere in the world.
In the western countries, there is a lot of individualism which is reflected in the HRM practices. The Brunei culture is more of collective in form, and this also manifests itself in the HRM practices. For example, there are no strong interpersonal relationships in the western HRM, unlike in Brunei. In Brunei, the family and relationship bonds are very strong, and this often leads to favoritism. The western countries are rarely affected by nepotism (Carr and Pudelko, 2006).
The hiring process is extremely monitored and competitive such that only the best are qualified. In most organizations within the west, hiring is done by external professionals who are hired to do the job. Therefore, it means that the hiring company will rarely have any familiarity with the prospective employees, especially at a personal level. However, the Brunei HRM is such that the managers in the company do the hiring. Although the process may be transparent, it is possible for managers to favor a participant if they happen to know him or her (Bond, 1988).
Moreover, given the absolute power vested on the Sultan, the Sultan may hire a person informally. In such a case, the HRM would have been left out of the loop, yet they would not have any power over it. The divergence here is that, in a western country, the executive absolutely has no power over the hiring of employees. The HR manager is free to make any decisions within his mandate.
In terms of complaints and disagreement, the HRM approaches are very different. The Brunei monarch has absolute powers in all areas of decision making. Employees have no power to contest the decisions of the monarch. Furthermore, although the monarchy sometimes consults the stakeholders in decision making, he does not have to under the law. On the other hand, HRM practices must be in accordance with the law which requires public participation. Employees have the power, through their trade unions to contest any decisions they feel are not made in their best interests (Norihito, 2007). The Brunei monarch is also the head of the judiciary. However, the western countries have industrial courts and the arbitration panel that is impartial. This is aimed at adjudicating on such matters.