The purpose of this paper is to explore the history of poor corporate transparency in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and show how one company, Zawya LLC, has succeeded in turning this persistent problem into a business opportunity by creating a successful information collection and dissemination business or “infomediary”.
Through interviews with knowledgeable individuals, the author examines the techniques the Company has used to develop its corporate database in Lebanon, where much of its operations are now based, and elsewhere in the region.
While government control and influence represents a major challenge to entrepreneurs throughout the Middle East, its nature varies considerably. The fundamental key to breaking down traditions of secrecy in both the private and public sector is to promote a virtuous circle of information provision and use. The success of “infomediaries” who do this is consistent with the concept of “self‐regulating sub‐systems” suggested in the literature.
Being a single case study, the conclusions have to be treated with appropriate caution. Examples of other successful “infomediaries” are given and avenues for future survey research among their clients are suggested.
Entrepreneurs looking for opportunities to develop “infomediaries” in other contexts will benefit from the discussion of factors that led to Zawya's success. The conclusion that the private sector can provide valuable help in breaking down corporate secrecy without the need for direct government intervention has important social implications.
This is the first case study of an “infomediary” in the MENA region.
Leigh, L. (2011), "Breaking down corporate secrecy in the Middle East: lessons from a successful “infomediary”", European Business Review, Vol. 23 No. 2, pp. 154-166. https://doi.org/10.1108/09555341111111183Download as .RIS
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