Essays on Cultural Constraints on Management Research in Saudi Arabia Research Paper

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The paper 'Cultural Constraints on Management Research in Saudi Arabia' is a great example of a Management Research Paper. This assessment of the cultural environment of Saudi business arose from an ongoing study of the use of strategic management tools when it became apparent in analyzing the study setting and research sample that a deep understanding of the unique characteristics of the Saudi business environment was necessary to prevent “ Western bias” from affecting the research design or the interpretation of the results. While many Saudi managers are educated in US or European business schools and are well-versed in contemporary management theory and practice, the cultural background of Saudi Arabia – first, its Arab tribal heritage, and second, the influence of Islam – imposes a strong framework on organizational culture and management methodology. In this article, contemporary analyses of the Saudi business and economic environment are examined, with particular focus being given on the conditions that affect firms listed on the Saudi Arabian stock exchange, as that is the area of the research study on which this article is based.

Some of the information here is drawn from reports of investment and business analysts (Samba Financial Group, 2009; BMI, 2010, 2011), and some are found in academic research studies (At-Twaijri, 1991; Naser & Nuseibeh, 2003; Rice, 2004; Al-Abdulqader, et al. , 2007; Alkathlan & Prabakaran, 2009; Maghrabi, et al. , 2009; Al-Moghaiwli, 2010; Kayed & Hassan, 2011).

A critical aspect of the Saudi business environment is the influence of Islamic law and culture on organizational culture. Shari’ ah law imposes clear guidelines and constraints on the conduct of Saudi business in terms of overall business ethics, but most particularly with respect to finance and transactions.

In order to fully-explore this feature of the Saudi business environment, a number of analytical and comparative studies on organizational culture are first reviewed (Bjerke & Al-Meer, 1993; Dedoussis, 2004; Idris, 2007; Al-Gahtani, et al. , 2007; Al-Yahya, 2008), followed by a review of literature on Islamic business practices (Rice, 1999; Rosly & Abu Bakar, 2003; Rahman, 2007; Aioanei, 2007; Grais, 2008; Abraham, 2008; Mirakhor & Iqbal, 2007; Esler, 2011).   THE SAUDI BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT: REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE Saudi Arabia is an attractive target for management studies because, despite conditions of global economic uncertainty in the past several years, the Saudi economy has generally prospered and presents a positive environment for businesses (“ Saudi Arabia Addressing Jobs, Housing as Economy Rebounds” , 2011).

In assessing the business environment, At-Tawaijri (1991: 11) identifies five interrelated “ situational sectors” that affect the external climate for businesses: Socioeconomic, technological, supplier, competitor, and government. In reviewing the literature produced in the last twenty years, what is interesting is that the rigor and scope of the research seems to mirror the growth of Saudi business.

For example, At-Tawaijri’ s approach is a somewhat superficial version of a PESTEL analysis. Rice (2004), by contrast, takes a narrower but more detailed approach, looking at the business environment in terms of three key factors: Islam, the Bedouin heritage of Saudi Arabian culture, and the overwhelming importance of the country’ s oil wealth to the Saudi economy; the petroleum sector accounts for roughly three-quarters of the Kingdom’ s budget revenues, about a third of its GDP, and 90% of its export earnings (Rice, 2004: 63). Some very good resources which provide a detailed overview of the business environment are found in the reports of professional analysis and consultation firms.

Business Monitor International (BMI), for example, produces quarterly business environment assessments, and these are helpful in tracking changes in the environment as time passes. BMI prefaces its assessments with a SWOT analysis; for 2010-2011 the SWOT analysis remained unchanged, which suggests that strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities, and threats identified are key factors of the business environment than must be understood:


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