Chapter 2: Globalization, Governance and Leadership Development in the Middle East
Rodney Wilson INTRODUCTION The question of whether management culture is universal or society specific has long been debated in the Middle East, with those who accept the latter suggesting that there may be some characteristics of Arab and Islamic culture that are inimical to business development. Business leaders in the Middle East appear to accept cultural relativist arguments, believing that their values are rooted in their culture and religion. For much of the twentieth century business leaders in the Middle East were rather defensive of these values, fearing that they were being marginalized in a global business culture dominated by Western thinking. In the twentyfirst century, however, a new confidence is emerging, as global business becomes more culturally diverse and Middle Eastern entrepreneurial role models become increasingly prominent. The revival of political Islam has legitimized governance regimes administered by shari‘a doctrine and jurisprudence and distinctive models of Islamic leadership are increasingly advocated as stimulating economic advancement. However, as Chapra (1993) observes, with Middle East Islamic states there is a need to reinforce moral values in leadership roles by socio-economic means in such a manner that individuals in society serve their own self interest within the constraints of social well-being and economic stability. Although values are crucial for business, an organization’s success also depends on its systems of control and governance. Hence increasing international attention has been paid to issues of corporate governance, but it is only very recently that this has received any attention in the Middle East. Corporate...
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