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The impact of Islamic culture on business ethics: Saudi Arabia and the practice of Wasta

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Published
  • Areej Algumzi
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Publication date2017
Number of pages290
QualificationPhD
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Zhang, Haina, Supervisor
  • Dimitratos , Pavlos , Supervisor, External person
Publisher
  • Lancaster University
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The following PhD study contributes to the business ethics field in Islamic context by developing a critical approach to studying the influence of Islam and Saudi traditions in real-life contexts from managerial and organisational perspectives. Bourdieu’s theory of practice is applied to deliver insight into the cultural contexts in which managerial values and daily practices are constituted, introducing the issue of wasta within Saudi culture. Despite wasta being a sensitive topic, few studies have been implemented to effectively discuss it.
Four case studies were conducted in culturally diverse private Saudi organisations located in the Kingdom’s eastern region. The data analysis delivers effective evaluation of workplace relationships and networks; extending understanding of the broader social and cultural influences within private Saudi organisations. The empirical data gathered reveals that Saudi managers’ styles include several modifications to existing contemporary managerial styles, largely to adhere to ethical codes of conduct and Islamic values.
In this research, the process of improving business ethics in Saudi organisations has been shown to be challenging. This research suggests applying on-going strategies and structures to support an ethical culture in the workplace. Adopting Bourdieu’s theory of practice allowed the study to bring together a wide range of humanistic disciplines to deliver theoretical and empirical implications with which to understand the everyday lives of Saudi employees and their social networks.
The theoretical connections between Bourdieu’s theory and the various dimensions of Islamic business ethics within Saudi private sector informed the overall success of this research. The results reveal that managerial power in Saudi society differs from traditional understandings, as constituted in the Western context. Ethics, identity and the strong religious belief are the fundamental components of spiritual observance and influencing interactions in the workplace.