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The effect of wasta on perceived competence and morality in Egypt

Ahmed A. Mohamed (The German University in Cairo, New Cairo, Egypt)
Mohamad S. Mohamad (Cairo University, Giza, Egypt)

Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal

ISSN: 1352-7606

Article publication date: 25 October 2011




Wasta is an Arabic word that means the intervention of a patron in favor of a client in attempt to obtain privileges or resources from a third party. In Arab countries, wasta is often used to obtain employment, thus causing unequal opportunity. The purpose of this paper is to study the attributions that people make regarding the competency and morality of wasta users. The main hypothesis is that those that use wasta in obtaining employment will be perceived as less competent and moral than those that do not.


The study is designed as a factorial quasi‐experiment, with three independent variables; wasta, employee qualification and socioeconomic status. The dependent variables are perceived competency and morality. Data were gathered from 421 Egyptian undergraduate business students attending a public and a private university.


In support of the hypotheses, subjects discounted the competency and morality of employees that used wasta to obtain the job. Additionally, subjects from lower socioeconomic groups evaluated wasta users more positively than more affluent subjects.


This is the first study that attempts to use attribution theory to examine the effects of wasta on perceptions of competency and morality. The study may be useful in identifying the disadvantages of using wasta, thus reducing its use.



Mohamed, A.A. and Mohamad, M.S. (2011), "The effect of wasta on perceived competence and morality in Egypt", Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal, Vol. 18 No. 4, pp. 412-425.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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