HR practices in Bangladesh Introduction ? Background Bangladesh, officially the People’s Republic of Bangladesh is a country in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma (Myanmar) to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south. Together with the Indian state of West Bengal, it makes up the ethno-linguistic region of Bengal. The name Bangladesh means “Country of Bengal” in the official Bengali language. Bangladesh is the eighth most populous country and is among the most densely populated countries in the world.
Bangladesh has a high poverty rate. However, per-capita (inflation-adjusted) GDP has more than doubled since 1975, and the poverty rate has fallen by 20% since the early 1990s. The country is listed among the “Next Eleven” economies. Dhaka, the capital, and other urban centers have been the driving force behind this growth. Bangladesh is divided into seven administrative divisions, each named after their respective divisional headquarters: Barisal (?????? ), Chittagong (????????? ), Dhaka (???? ), Khulna (????? ), Rajshahi (??????? ), Sylhet (????? , and Rangpur (????? ). Divisions are subdivided into districts (zila). There are 64 districts in Bangladesh, each further subdivided into upazila (subdistricts) or thana. The area within each police station, except for those in metropolitan areas, is divided into several unions, with each union consisting of multiple villages. In the metropolitan areas, police stations are divided into wards, which are further divided into mahallas. There are no elected officials at the divisional, district or upazila levels, and the administration is composed only of government officials.
Direct elections are held for each union (or ward), electing a chairperson and a number of members. In 1997, a parliamentary act was passed to reserve three seats (out of twelve) in every union for female candidates. ? History of Bangladesh: ? Pre – European era: Remnants of civilization in the greater Bengal region date back four thousand years, when the region was settled by Dravidian, Tibeto-Burman, and Austro-Asiatic peoples. The exact origin of the word “Bangla” or “Bengal” is unknown, though it is believed to be derived from Bang, the Dravidian-speaking tribe that settled in the area around the year 1000 BC.
The kingdom of Gangaridai was formed from at least the 7th century BC, which later united with Bihar under the Magadha, Nanda, Mauryan and Sunga Empires. Bengal was later part of the Gupta Empire and Harsha Empire from the 3rd to the 6th centuries CE. Islam was introduced to Bengal in the 12th century by Arab Muslim merchants; Sufi missionaries and subsequent Muslim conquests helped spread Islam throughout the region. Bakhtiar Khilji, a Turkic general, defeated Lakshman Sen of the Sena dynasty and conquered large parts of Bengal in the year 1204. European era: European traders arrived late in the 15th century, and their influence grew until the British East India Company gained control of Bengal following the Battle of Plassey in 1757. The bloody rebellion of 1857 – known as the Sepoy Mutiny – resulted in transfer of authority to the crown with a British viceroy running the administration. During colonial rule, famine racked the Indian subcontinent many times, including the Great Bengal famine Figure : Dhaka, March 11- 1948 of 1943 that claimed 3 million lives. Between 1905 and 1911, an abortive attempt was made to divide the province of Bengal into two zones, with Dhaka being the capital of the eastern zone. When India was partitioned in 1947, Bengal was partitioned along religious lines, with the western part going to India and the eastern part (Muslims majority) joining Pakistan as a province called East Bengal (later renamed East Pakistan), with its capital at Dhaka. ? Pakistan era:
In 1947, West Pakistan and East Bengal (both primarily Muslim) separated from India (largely Hindu) and jointly became the new country of Pakistan. East Bengal became East Pakistan in 1955, but the awkward arrangement of a two-part country with its territorial units separated by 1,600 km left the Bengalis marginalized and dissatisfied. Despite the economic and demographic weight of the east, however, Pakistan’s government and military were largely dominated by the upper classes from the west. The Bengali Language Movement of 1952 was the first sign of friction between the two wings of Pakistan.
Dissatisfaction with the central government over economic and cultural issues continued to rise through the next decade, during which the Awami League emerged as the political voice of the Bengali-speaking population. It agitated for autonomy in the 1960s, and in 1966, its president, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was jailed; he was released in 1969 after an unprecedented popular uprising. After staging compromise talks with Mujib, Figure 2: Signing the Instrument of Surrender President Yahya Khan arrested him in the early hours of 26 March 1971, and launched Operation Searchlight, a sustained military assault on East Pakistan.
Before his arrest by the Pakistan Army, Sk. Mujibur Rahman formally declared the independence of Bangladesh, and directed everyone to fight till the last soldier of the Pakistan army was evicted from East Pakistan. The Bangladesh Liberation War lasted for nine months and achieved a decisive victory over Pakistan on 16 December 1971 ? Independent Bangladesh: After its independence, Bangladesh became a parliamentary democracy, with Mujib as the Prime Minister. In the 1973 parliamentary elections, the Awami League gained an absolute majority.
A nationwide famine occurred during 1973 and 1974, and in early 1975, Mujib initiated a one-party socialist rule with his newly formed BAKSAL. On 15 August 1975, Mujib and most of his family members were assassinate d by mid-level military officers. A series of bloody coups and counter-coups in the following three months culminated in the ascent to power of General Ziaur Rahman, who reinstated multi-party politics, and founded the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). Zia’s rule ended when he was assassinated by elements of the military in 1981. Bangladesh’s next major ruler was General Hossain Mohammad Ershad, who ained power in a bloodless coup in 1982, and ruled until 1990, when he was forced to resign after a massive revolt of all major political parties. Since then, Bangladesh has reverted to a parliamentary democracy. Zia’s widow, Khaleda Zia, led the Bangladesh Nationalist Party to parliamentary victory at the general election in 1991, and became the first female Prime Minister in Bangladeshi history. However, the Awami League, headed by Sheikh Figure 3: House of Parliament Hasina, one of Mujib’s surviving daughters, won the next election in 1996. It lost again to the Bangladesh Nationalist Party in 2001.
On 11 January 2007, following widespread political unrest, a caretaker government was appointed to administer the next general election. The caretaker government held what observers described as a largely free and fair election on 29 December 2008. Awami League’s Sheikh Hasina won the elections with a landslide victory and took the oath of Prime Minister on 6 January 2009. ? Demographic analysis of Bangladesh: Bangladesh is ethnically homogeneous. Indeed, its name derives from the Bengali ethno-linguistic group, which comprises 98% of the population.
Bengalis, who also predominate in the West Bengal province of India, are one of the most populous ethnic groups in the world. Variations in Bengali culture and language do exist of course. There are many dialects of Bengali spoken throughout the region. The dialect spoken by those in Chittagong and Sylhet are particularly distinctive. In 2009 the population was estimated at 156 million. Religiously, about 90% of Bangladeshis are Muslims and the remainder is mostly Hindus. Bangladesh has the highest population density in the world, excluding a handful of city-states and small countries such as Malta.
The mid-2009 estimate for total population was 156,050,883 which rank Bangladesh 7th in the world (CIA). Figure 4: Population growth of Bangladesh The overwhelming majority of Bangladeshis are ethnic Bengalis, comprising 98% of the population. The remainder is mostly Biharis and indigenous tribal groups. Nearly all Bangladeshis speak Bangla as their mother tongue and it is the official language. It is an Indo-Aryan language of Sanskrit origin with its own script. English is used as a second language among the middle and upper classes. English is also widely used in higher education and the legal system.
Health and education levels remain relatively low, although they have improved recently as poverty levels have decreased. Most Bangladeshis continue to live on subsistence farming in rural villages. Health problems abound, springing from poor water quality and prevalence of infectious diseases. The main religion practiced in Bangladesh is Islam (89. 7%), but a significant minority adheres to Hinduism (9. 2%). The majority of Muslims are Sunni. There is a small Shia and an even smaller Ahmadiyya community. Ethnic Biharis are predominantly Shia Muslims. Sufi influences in the region go back many centuries.
Other religious groups include Buddhists (0. 7%, mostly Theravada), Christians (0. 3%, mostly of the Roman Catholic denomination), and Animists (0. 1%). ? Socio- cultural background of Bangladesh: Reflecting the long history of the region, Bangladesh has a culture that encompasses elements both old and new. Bengali literature reached its full expression in the nineteenth century, with its greatest icons being poets Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam. Bangladesh also has a long tradition in folk literature, for example Maimansingha Gitika, Thakurmar Jhuli and stories related to Gopal Bhar.
The musical tradition of Bangladesh is lyrics-based (Baniprodhan), with minimal instrumental accompaniment. The Baul tradition is a distinctive element of Bengali folk music. Numerous other musical traditions exist including Gombhira, Bhatiali and Bhawaiya, varying from one region to the next. Folk music is often accompanied by the ektara, an instrument with only one string. The culinary tradition of Bangladesh has close relations to Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine as well as having its own unique traits. Rice and curry are traditional favorites.
Bangladeshis make distinctive sweetmeats from milk products, some common ones being Roshogolla, chomchom and kalojam. The sari (shari) is by far the most widely worn dress by Bangladeshi women. A guild of weavers in Dhaka is renowned for producing saris from exquisite Jamdani muslin. The salwarkameez (shaloar kamiz) is also quite popular, and in urban areas some women wear western attire. Among men, western attire is more widely adopted. Men also wear the kurta-paejama combination, often on religious occasions, and the lungi, a kind of long skirt.
Society in Bangladesh is still characterised by joint families and respect for women and elders and love and care for children. Old parents and elderly dependants are taken care of by the families of their sons or daughters or relatives as their good wishes and prayers are deeply valued as propitious for receiving God’s kindness. Muslims greet their elders in the Islamic way with assalamu alaikum with the right hand raised to touch the forehead and Hindus with namashkar accompanied by folded palms. Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha, being the most important holidays in the Islamic calendar, is the subject of major festivals.
The day before Eid ul-Fitr is called Chad Rat (the night of the moon) and is often celebrated with firecrackers. Major Hindu festivals are Durga Puja, Kali Puja and Saraswati Puja. Buddha Purnima, which marks the birth of Gautama Buddha, and Christmas, called Borodin (Great day), are both national holidays. The most important secular festival is Pohela Baishakh or Bengali New Year, the beginning of the Bengali calendar. Other festivities include Nobanno, Poush parbon (festival of Poush) and observance of national days like Shohid Dibosh and Victory Day. ? Economic and business scenario in Bangladesh:
At April 2010, USA – based ratings agency Standard & Poor’s (S;P) awarded Bangladesh a BB- for a long term in credit rating which is below India and well over Pakistan and Sri Lanka in South Asia. And, despite continuous domestic and international efforts to improve economic and demographic prospects, Bangladesh remains a developing nation. Its per capita income in 2008 was US$520 compared to the world average of $10,200. Jute was once the economic engine of the country. Its share of the world export market peaked in the Second World War and the late 1940s at 80% and even in the early 1970s accounted for 70% of its export earnings.
However, polypropylene products began to substitute for jute products worldwide and the jute industry started to decline. Bangladesh grows very significant quantities of rice, tea, potato, mango, onion and mustard. According to FAOSTAT, Bangladesh is one of world’s largest producers of: Rice (4th), Potato (11th), Mango (9th), Pineapple (16th), Fruit, Tropical (5th), Onion (16th), Banana (17th), Jute (2nd), and Tea (11th). Bangladesh has seen expansion of its middle class, and its consumer industry has also grown.
In December 2005, four years after its report on the emerging “BRIC” economies (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), Goldman Sachs named Bangladesh one of the “Next Eleven”, along with Egypt, Indonesia, Vietnam and seven other countries. Bangladesh has seen a dramatic increase in foreign direct investment. A number of multinational corporations and local big business houses such as Beximco, Square, Akij Group, Ispahani, Navana Group, Transcom Group, Habib Group, KDS Group, Dragon Group and multinationals such as Unocal Corporation and Chevron, have made major investments, with the natural gas sector being a priority.
In December 2005, the Central Bank of Bangladesh projected GDP growth around 6. 5%. In order to enhance economic growth, the government set up several export processing zones to attract foreign investment. These are managed by the Bangladesh Export Processing Zone Authority. • Objective The objectives of this report are to get an in depth understanding of the HR practices followed by USA and Bangladesh and to develop an HR model for Bangladesh that would prove to be practical and highly effective in the present Bangladesh corporate HR scenario.
In particular this report would focus on the various socio-cultural, economic and demographic aspects of the present American society and explore the aspects that are truly unique and distinguish them from the rest of the world. The HR policies and trends practiced in corporations and human resource managers of US is of particular concern as it would assist in identifying the uniqueness and superiority of the American business organizations that makes them the global leaders in the business world.
The current HR practices and policies followed by human resource managers in Bangladeshi organizations would also be scrutinized in this context to get a clear view point as to where the present Bangladeshi Human Resource Management is positioned. This would help to determine the weak links that exist in the HRM of Bangladeshi corporations and provide us a ground to compare and contrast the HR strategies followed by US and Bangladesh. In addition this would help in establishing the base for the HR model that will be developed as the main objective of this project. Scope Both the United States and Bangladesh have a rich historical background and cultural heritage. However while USA lies in between the Pacific and the North Atlantic oceans, Bangladesh lies half way around the world some 8260 miles from border to border in the south east Asian region surround from all sides by India in the feet of the Himalayas. So it is quite natural that there exist immense differences among the two countries not only in terms of language and culture but also in terms of socio-economy.
While US is one of the highest earning countries with annual GDP of over 14 trillion US dollars as of 2010, Bangladesh is among the poorest countries of the third world with annual GDP less than 0. 9 trillion. So it can easily be implied that there are major differences in the organization perspective also. This report examines the similarities and differences that exist among the two countries in the corporate HR environment. Being the world’s third largest country both in size and population, the United States is a nation moving forward rapidly and successfully with its unique cultural diversity.
Throughout the years, America has experienced waves of immigration from virtually every corner of the world molding the country into what it is today. After establishing its independence in 1776, the United States has endured civil war, the Great Depression, and two World Wars to become the richest and most powerful nation state in the world. In addition, today the US economy is considered to be the strongest and technologically most powerful. The concept of individualism in the US plays a significant role in the lives of many Americans. American culture emphasizes individual initiative and personal achievement.
Independence and self-reliance are highly valued and also extends to the workplace where business is frequently carried out autonomously. Consequently, one’s position in US society is determined by one’s own achievements as oppose to status or age. On the other hand Bangladeshi culture is more emphasized towards collectivism. Family life and values are of great importance and many people still live in large extended families. The concept of collectivism is also reflected in the workplace where employees work in a collective environment and decisions are made collectively.
Americans are also task centered and thus the primary purpose of communication is to exchange information, facts, and opinions. While Bangladeshis are more concerned with socializing therefore it is quite common that business acquaintances are also close family friends. In the US, conflict is dealt with directly and openly, and for this reason, Americans will not hesitate to say “no” or criticize others in public. Bangladeshis are more conservative when dealing with conflicts so it is considered disrespectful to criticize somebody in public. If somebody has a problem with somebody it is dealt discreetly rather than in the presence of others.
An important element of American culture is the concept of equality. Despite the many differences within American society, there is a collective understanding of the notion of equality that underlines many social relationships in the US. Americans believe in having equal rights, equal social obligations, and equal opportunities based on the concept of individual merit. Although the values and notions of modern Bangladeshis have changed to take more liberal form of equality in terms of genders is among the more concerning issues that plague the Bangladeshi society.
Women are still treated as ‘the lesser sex’ in the predominantly male culture of Bangladesh. In the US, punctuality is an essential part of business etiquette and as such, scheduled appointments or meetings must be attended on time. Americans perceive lateness as a sign of disrespect. Therefore, in situations where you know you will be late, a call should be made to inform your American colleagues of your delay. Deadlines are strictly adhered to in American business culture. Americans place great emphasis on getting the best results in the quickest time.
American counterparts may appear to be hasty in their decision-making. This, however, is due to the fact that the concept “time is money” is taken extremely seriously in the US. Bangladeshi people are not so strict in maintaining punctuality. It is quite natural for employees to come late to attend important meetings and appointments show reasons of traffic jams. Decision making also takes more time and effort from both managers and employees than American counterparts. In accordance with American business culture, the hierarchical chain of command often supersedes personal relationships.
Personal competence, professionalism, and accountability for individual performance are highly valued in American business culture. As a result, managers are only approached for help in essential situations. In Bangladeshi business culture it is expected that managers will help in every situation and frequent help of the manager is sought rather than taking matters into own hands. Developing personal relationships are not as significant in US business culture as they are in some Asian countries. In the United States, the overall goal of business is to secure the best deal, therefore forming company relationships are of greater value.
It is common for Americans to make clear distinctions between work colleagues and friends in their social life. In the US, meetings tend to be rather formal and little time is spent on cultivating social relationships. However personal relationships are of utmost importance in Bangladesh. People tend to form close friendships with office colleagues and many meetings are rather casual in nature and a great deal of effort is given by the manager to be acquainted with his or her subordinates. Americans respect their privacy and personal space.
So it is often found that coming into any form of physical contact such as hugging when greeting for the first time may cause the American to be offended. However it is not case in Bangladeshi culture. Business acquaintances shake hands and may even pat on the back for appreciation even though they have met for the first time. Gift giving is often discouraged or limited by many US companies and therefore most employees are unable to accept them. However it is customary to present gifts to colleagues and bosses in many occasions in Bangladeshi business organizations.
It is clear from the above discussion that similarities as well as differences exist in both Bangladeshi and American business environment. The scope of this report therefore provides us insight into the similarities and differences of HR practices of Bangladesh and USA and also presents us with the opportunity to create a HR model that can address the negative issues that exist in present HR policies of Bangladeshi organizations. The model will not only adapt into the heart of the organization but also prove to be successful in generating positive results for the sustainability of the organization.