Chapter 6: Leadership in the Sultanate of Oman
Richard Common INTRODUCTION Along with its Middle East neighbours, the amount of research on the topic of leadership in the Sultanate of Oman is scarce. Furthermore, ‘leadership studies in the Middle East are almost nonexistent due to the inherent difficulty of conducting organizational research there’ (Dorfman and House 2004, p. 64). It will also come as no surprise to anyone who is familiar with the Middle East in general that the context of Oman is such that it is difficult to conceptualize leadership as developed by theorists and practitioners in the USA, where the bulk of popular leadership theory is derived. However, as countries such as Oman are important in challenging universalist conceptions of organizational behaviour, this chapter begins by analysing the organizational context in Oman. Crucial to understanding this context is the political development of the country; when compared to its immediate Gulf neighbours such as Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, Oman’s development over the last 40 years has been swift and remarkable. A discussion of societal culture follows an analysis of the political context that identifies facets unique to Oman (as opposed to generic ‘Arab’ characteristics). In addition, the chapter outlines the key institutional factors that shape leadership in Oman; the point that is emphasized here is that, in line with developing countries, the public sector remains the prime driver of the economy. It becomes clear from the chapter that the scope for the exercise of leadership is tightly constrained in Omani organizations. The context also presents considerable limitations...
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