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Arab and Middle Eastern business research: a review of the empirical literature (1990-2013)

Morris Kalliny (Department of Marketing, Saint Louis University, St Louis, MO, USA)
Mamoun Benmamoun (Department of International Business, Saint Louis University, St Louis, MO, USA)

Multinational Business Review

ISSN: 1525-383X

Article publication date: 17 November 2014




The purpose of the current study is to examine the empirical research conducted on the Arab region as reported in the top 46 business journals over the past 23 years (1990-2013). After identifying patterns over time (focal country and methodologies), the identified methodological challenges that scholars have reported in their published research are presented.


The Arab region in this study comprised all 22 member-countries in the Arab League. We also added three other countries that are very much tied to the Arab region and are usually included in the Middle East: Turkey, Israel and Iran. Following the recommendations of previous authors (DuBois and Reeb, 2000; Nicholls-Nixon et al., 2011; Martinez and Kalliny, 2012), published articles are reviewed, but not book chapters, book reviews and dissertation abstracts from our sample, as they do not meet the sample selection criteria (Inkpen and Beamish, 1994; Samiee and Athanassiou, 1998).


As Table I indicates, the Arab region has not received much attention in the top business journals as evidenced by the number of articles published from 1990 to 2013. No papers were published in many of the top management journals such as the Academy of Management Review and Strategic Management Journal. Few found publication in other top management outlets such as the Academy of Management Journal, the Administrative Science Quarterly, the Journal of Management and the Journal of Management Studies. Our sample also revealed a similar result in the field of marketing where there are also no papers published in some of the top marketing journals such as the Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Consumer Psychology and Marketing Science. There was one paper published in the Journal of Marketing and one in the Journal of Retailing. Bearing in mind that this literature review covered a span of 23 years, these results indicate an under-representation of the Arab region as an empirical context. This trend has started to change after the eruption of the Arab Spring. Academic business research on the Arab region has increased significantly since then. Another significant finding is the lack of investigation of the firm and country factors in studying the region.


As the world becomes increasingly connected and the fates of countries and regions become more intertwined, it is imperative that scholars and practitioners acquire a deeper understanding of individual countries and regions, particularly those that have been relatively understudied in the extant academic research (i.e. the Arab region). While there is a substantial body of Asian management research, as well as several comprehensive literature reviews of other regions (Bruton and Lau, 2008), a systematic review of Arab and Middle Eastern business research has not been undertaken. Despite much regional attention in political science research due to the Arab – Israel conflict, management research has lagged behind.



Kalliny, M. and Benmamoun, M. (2014), "Arab and Middle Eastern business research: a review of the empirical literature (1990-2013)", Multinational Business Review, Vol. 22 No. 4, pp. 442-459.



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