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Article
Publication date: 20 December 2019

Shweta Belwal, Rakesh Belwal and Suhaila Ebrahim Al-Hashemi

The purpose of this paper is to take cognisance of the work–life balance (WLB) challenges facing working women in Oman, make a review of the family-friendly policies…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to take cognisance of the work–life balance (WLB) challenges facing working women in Oman, make a review of the family-friendly policies (FFPs), related provisions in labour laws of various nations, and identify and suggest some FFP-based solutions for attracting women to private sector jobs.

Design/methodology/approach

Initially, desk research was used to review the labour laws of the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and some pioneering countries known for their workplace policies using the major electronic databases and official websites. An exploratory approach was used to understand the lived experience of participants using 46 in-depth interviews. The data were analysed and the findings were explained and contextualised in terms of the Arab culture, wider social processes and consequences related to WLB.

Findings

The interviews revealed that the majority of women in the private sector are not fully aware of the labour laws and FFPs, and are not satisfied with the existing policies, as they do not provide the right WLB. Women in the private sector demand flexible working hours, privacy at work, reduced work hours and certain other benefits akin to the government sector. Omani Labour Law needs a review of FFPs in line with the best global practices and Oman’s diversification initiatives. The provision, awareness and implementation of FFPs in the workplace are necessary to attract Omani women to private sector jobs.

Research limitations/implications

This research focusses on Oman in particular and GCC countries in general in its coverage of Omani women workers. The outcomes would be important for the specific segment but would have limited potential to generalise.

Practical implications

The study of WLB and FFPs is of interest for both academia and industry globally. In its strategic vision 2040, Oman aims to encourage, support and develop the private sector to drive the national economy. To retain and boost the socio-economic development in the post-oil economy, the success of the private sector will depend on the participation of the Omani workforce. The role of working Omani women will be pivotal, for they form a substantial part of the skilled human resources inventory.

Social implications

Women working in Oman are influenced by labour laws, organisational culture, traditional attitudes and societal values and influences. The voices of women working in the private sector indicate a great need to create awareness of existing policies, ensure their compliance and devise additional workplace policies to enable women to contribute to the labour market.

Originality/value

There is a dearth of studies examining work policies and employment of women in the context of Oman in particular and the GCC Countries in general. Even in the extant literature, the sectoral imbalance between the government and private sector has not been explored from the perspective of WLB and FFPs. This study presents a unique approach and findings in this regard.

Details

Employee Relations: The International Journal, vol. 42 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

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Article
Publication date: 6 November 2017

Rakesh Belwal and Shweta Belwal

The participation and productivity of women in Oman’s labor force are very low and heavily skewed toward the government sector. There are few women in the private sector…

Abstract

Purpose

The participation and productivity of women in Oman’s labor force are very low and heavily skewed toward the government sector. There are few women in the private sector and the reasons for this are not well-known. The challenges that women workers face specifically in the Arab World are worth understanding from a participation and policy perspective. The purpose of this paper is to explore employers’ perceptions of women workers and the major challenges they face in Oman in the context of government efforts to develop the female workforce in this Middle East region.

Design/methodology/approach

Data collected by interviewing the top executives (employers) from 28 organizations in two major cities in Oman were analyzed qualitatively, grouped into emerging themes, triangulated, and discussed.

Findings

The results indicated that employers, in general, are impressed by women workers in Oman. However, they identify a number of challenges women face. This study synthesized and grouped employers’ perceptions of these challenges in the following categories: women’s natural and physiological composition, their attitude at work, post-marital challenges, socio-cultural barriers, nature and place of work, organizational preparedness and governance, biases or prejudices of employers, and work-life balance (WLB) issues facing them.

Practical implications

This study suggests that since female participation in the government sector in Oman is substantial, women can also be attracted to work in the private sector if policies are formulated to safeguard their interests.

Originality/value

There is an absolute dearth of studies about female participation in the Omani workforce; this study is one of the pioneering efforts. Whereas the extant literature on WLB issues represents mostly the western perspective, this study highlights the major WLB issues in Oman and fills some important gaps between the West and the Middle East by focusing on women, WLB, and policies triangle.

Details

Employee Relations, vol. 39 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 12 June 2017

Rakesh Belwal and Shweta Belwal

The purpose of this paper is to explore the factors affecting store image and customers’ choice of hypermarkets in Oman and compares two big hypermarkets in Sohar– the…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the factors affecting store image and customers’ choice of hypermarkets in Oman and compares two big hypermarkets in Sohar– the prominent industrial city of Oman.

Design/methodology/approach

A detailed review of literature was conducted initially to identify the attributes affecting store image and choice of hypermarkets in Oman and a questionnaire was developed later using the key attributes, vetted by a panel of professionals and consumers. Data were collected using convenience sampling from the targeted customers with due care to reduce possible biases. Exploratory factor analysis (EFA), using SPSS, was then performed to arrive at the key factors affecting store image and choice of hypermarkets in Oman. Two most popular and leading hypermarkets of Sohar – Lulu and Al Safeer were selected to study consumers’ preferences for store choice and comparisons. The Mann-Whitney U-test in association with the Wilcoxon W-test was applied, using Minitab, for further comparison of the two hypermarkets.

Findings

Retailing industry in Oman is changing. The focus of consumers is shifting from traditional markets to modern retail formats. The presence of hypermarkets has attracted customers away from traditional souqs. Customers are attracted to hypermarkets for various reasons, including the local and socio-cultural ones. The factor analysis produced four components, namely, “purchase experience”, “visit experience”, “augmented experience”, and “repeat-purchase experience” affecting customers’ choice of hypermarkets and store image in Oman. A comparative analysis of two leading hypermarkets revealed that Lulu hypermarket acquired, overall, a better store image over Al Safeer on all the components. Purchase experience and visit experience, in Omani hypermarkets, were forerunners in satisfying customers than the augmented and repeat-purchase experience.

Research limitations/implications

The study contributes to the narrow base of extant literature on consumer preferences of hypermarkets and their choice of related retail formats in the Islamic world. Although the use of EFA has been quite informative in revealing the findings, the limitation mainly arises due to the lack of confirmatory techniques, which were not intended at this stage of research. Whist the study opens room for researchers to contribute further in this regard, it brings forth certain implications for the managers, academics, and professionals working in the retail sector.

Practical implications

Analysis and discussions reveal that hypermarkets, particularly in Oman, need to take into account the factors, as identified in this study, and the differences in context of local conditions and religion. The study emphasizes that managers of retail formats in Oman need to give due importance to consumer experience to secure better store image and consumer patronage.

Originality/value

The study makes a pioneering attempt to analyse consumer preferences for retail stores, especially hypermarkets in Oman. It recognizes that the consumer expectations and business requirements of Oman, in particular, or Gulf countries in general are somehow different than the rest of the world. A heed to the identified factors and underlying variables would help the retail sector in serving consumers better as well as in increasing the store image and consumer patronage.

Details

International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, vol. 45 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0959-0552

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Article
Publication date: 16 June 2020

Rakesh Belwal, Shweta Belwal, Azlinor Binti Sufian and Amal Al Badi

Project-Based Learning (PBL) is an innovative approach to learning that employs a multitude of strategies critical for success in the twenty-first century. It exposes…

Abstract

Purpose

Project-Based Learning (PBL) is an innovative approach to learning that employs a multitude of strategies critical for success in the twenty-first century. It exposes students to the real world, opens an extended inquiry process, and boosts their communication skills and interdisciplinary learning. However, the extant literature on PBL places more emphasis on learning through internal rather than external projects. Industrial collaboration projects build partnerships and provide opportunities to work on real problems, often seeking multidisciplinary approaches. This study explores and suggests the benefits that students derived from their participation in an external research and consultancy project at a University in Oman.

Design/methodology/approach

The study follows a qualitative analysis approach founded on an exploratory research design. In-depth interviews were conducted with ten research assistants, two research coordinators, and two project leaders involved in the project. The data from the interview were subjected to the thematic inductive qualitative analysis using Atlas.ti 8 software.

Findings

The results of the study revealed that students derived some direct academic benefits, mainly in the area of conducting research. The major learning happened mostly in non-academic areas, for they learned many things necessary for success in real-life work situations. The students benefited largely on behavioural skills and abilities such as communication, self-confidence, English language skills, planning, thinking, and time management skills. Altogether, project-based learning offered them a different skillset beyond what they usually acquire in the conventional teaching and learning environment.

Practical implications

The outcomes of this research support the development of curriculum design and instructional pedagogy in higher education in a specific context, concluding that PBL has much to do with the practical aspects of learning and employability. The finding suggests that by engaging in PBL, students can develop certain skills that cannot be acquired in a conventional teaching environment. PBL enables self-learning and prepares students to deal with different situations and challenges on the ground while inculcating professionalism to act in real-life situations. This study advocates the introduction of some PBL based courses in the curriculum to nurture a balanced set of skills and abilities among business students.

Social implications

The research outcomes support Oman’s Vision 2040 and one of its strategies for capacity building that aims to adopt innovative methods for individual/collective development of students, as well as for their life-long learning.

Originality/value

Project-based learning described in this study provides a pedagogical way to connect university education to a real-life situation. These results offer promising prospects for infusing outdoor multidisciplinary projects in the course curriculum. This work bears significant value for educators in designing curriculum and facilitating projects, particularly in environments where students exhibit weaknesses or inhibitions to receive the knowledge, appropriately, from the conventional mode of teaching.

Details

Education + Training, vol. 63 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0040-0912

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Article
Publication date: 7 May 2020

Rakesh Belwal, Rahima Al Shibli and Shweta Belwal

Within a larger mandate of reviewing the key global trends concerning consumer protection in the electronic commerce (e-commerce) literature, this study aims to study the…

Abstract

Purpose

Within a larger mandate of reviewing the key global trends concerning consumer protection in the electronic commerce (e-commerce) literature, this study aims to study the legal framework concerning e-commerce and consumer protection in the Sultanate of Oman and to analyse the current regulations concerning e-commerce and consumer protection.

Design/methodology/approach

This study followed the normative legal research approach and resorted to the desk research process to facilitate content analysis of literature containing consumer protection legislation and regulatory provisions in Oman in particular and the rest of the world in general.

Findings

The study reveals that consumer protection initiatives in Oman are well entrenched for offline transactions, but are relatively new and limited for e-commerce. In spite of the promulgation of consumer protection laws, electronic transaction law and cybercrime law, consumer protection measures for e-commerce in Oman do not address a large number of the global concerns necessary to build consumer confidence and trust in the online environment.

Research limitations/implications

There is a dearth of information concerning Oman on this topic in the extant literature. The research also witnessed the lack of empirical data on the issue of consumer protection and e-commerce in Oman that offer a detailed database of consumer complaints and associated outcomes.

Practical implications

The mechanism of consumer protection in electronic transactions is not robust in many countries. Because of the lack of comprehensive and robust legislation, consumers remain vulnerable in the online contractual purchase process. Moving beyond the fragmented legislation, many countries are currently mulling an all-comprehensive e-commerce law, implications of this paper will help the policymakers in identifying the focus areas.

Social implications

Consumer protection is a burning global issue in this era of consumerism. It is important to build consumer trust, transparency and integrity of transactions to reduce the risk and uncertainties of purchase.

Originality/value

Consumer protection studies conducted in the context of Oman, hitherto, deal more with data protection and dispute resolution mechanisms, and less with legal provisions, regulations and consumer confidence. The study shares newer insights based on a systematic review of legal and business databases. It is the first study of its kind in the context of Oman and the Middle East in general.

Details

Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, vol. 19 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1477-996X

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Article
Publication date: 14 August 2017

Rakesh Belwal, Pushpendra Priyadarshi and Mariam Humaid Al Fazari

Supply and demand characteristics, influenced by the pre- and post-oil economy of Oman, have caused unemployment challenges to Omani graduates. The purpose of this paper…

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Abstract

Purpose

Supply and demand characteristics, influenced by the pre- and post-oil economy of Oman, have caused unemployment challenges to Omani graduates. The purpose of this paper is to explore the most common graduate attributes as they apply to graduates’ employability in Oman.

Design/methodology/approach

The study uses the principles of “hypotheticodeductive logic” and inferential analysis using a combination of focus group and survey approach. Using an online mode of data collection targeting the past three cohorts of graduates from a prominent University in Oman, the study analyses and presents several insights into graduate attributes and employability issues.

Findings

The research finds that the domain of educational institutions in Oman is mainly restricted to the basic generic skills in developing the graduate attributes. Students’ perspectives on employers’ selection criteria reveal that computing skills, the ability to work in teams, English language proficiency, prior training, and the graduate’s personality are the five most significant employability skills in Oman. Currently, there is little interaction among higher educational institutions, alumni, and industry in Oman for boosting the employability of graduates.

Practical implications

The study is highly relevant from the policy perspective in Oman. All the stakeholders in Oman need to come together to define employability skills prudently by expanding the domain beyond generic skills.

Originality/value

The study is important in the context of Oman due to a shortage of studies that look at the graduate attributes from the lens of employability besides addressing concerns about unemployment.

Details

International Journal of Educational Management, vol. 31 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-354X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 25 October 2018

Rakesh Belwal and Ahmed Al Maqbali

The concept of Islamic banking (IB) as a discipline and the introduction of the full-fledged Islamic banks and Islamic windows are relatively newer developments in the…

Abstract

Purpose

The concept of Islamic banking (IB) as a discipline and the introduction of the full-fledged Islamic banks and Islamic windows are relatively newer developments in the banking sector in Oman. This paper aims to assess customers’ perceptions of the Islamic banks and IB windows in Oman.

Design/methodology/approach

Following the interpretive paradigm and an exploratory research design, data collected through personal interviews with a group of 60 respondents in two of the prominent cities in Oman were analysed qualitatively.

Findings

The study found that customers in Oman had mixed feelings about the Islamic Banks. While some of them were not sure if the banks follow the Islamic principles, a majority of them had not opened an account with the Islamic banks or Islamic windows. The study revealed some vulnerabilities in the areas of their operations, marketing practices, staff knowledge of products and customer-dealings, as well as customers’ understanding of Islamic banks, their principles and practices.

Practical implications

As the advent of IB is relatively new to Oman, the insights gained by this study will have wider implications for the growth of IB locally. The outcomes of this study would appraise the officials and regulators of Islamic banks and Islamic windows with customers’ perception of IB. The elimination of the identified weaknesses would help them to improve the knowledge, quality and the marketing and promotion of products and services while competing with the conventional banks.

Originality/value

This study is a pioneering effort to know the status of IB and customers’ motivations in Oman towards IB.

Details

Journal of Islamic Marketing, vol. 10 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1759-0833

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 13 August 2021

Naveen Jain, Danilo Le Sante, Chockalingam Viswesvaran and Rakesh Belwal

The psychological contract breach (PCB) literature has documented the negative effects of PCB on employee job attitudes and the variables that moderate (accentuate or…

Abstract

Purpose

The psychological contract breach (PCB) literature has documented the negative effects of PCB on employee job attitudes and the variables that moderate (accentuate or mitigate) this relationship. Given that multiple variables together influence a subordinate’s PCB – job attitudes relationship, this paper aims to investigate a three-way interaction between corporate reputation, supervisor’s and subordinate’s PCBs on the job attitudes of the latter.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors collected a dyadic sample of 227 employees and their 79 supervisors from some of the well-known companies in Oman. The authors used SPSS (version 25) to examine the three-way interaction of focal employee PCB, supervisor PCB and corporate reputation on employee job attitudes.

Findings

The results indicated that depending on the perception of corporate reputation, the extent of the supervisor’s PCB perception has a differential influence on the employee PCB – job attitudes relationship.

Originality/value

By investigating the joint (sometimes conflicting) influences of multiple moderators which enhances the ecological validity, this paper makes an original and important contribution to the PCB literature.

Details

Review of International Business and Strategy, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2059-6014

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 29 July 2014

Rakesh Belwal, Shweta Belwal and Omar Al Jabri

This study aims to assess the training needs of fishermen in Oman using the concept mapping technique. This study was the part of a larger research project on the training…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to assess the training needs of fishermen in Oman using the concept mapping technique. This study was the part of a larger research project on the training needs assessment (TNA), where a mixed method approach was used to identify the training needs.

Design/methodology/approach

Perspective of 12 instructors on a focus question was taken during a brainstorming session at a Fishermen Training Institute in Oman. Using the concept mapping technique involving the multidimensional scaling and hierarchical cluster analysis, the data recorded was analyzed to arrive at the need clusters, which were later rated and ranked to assign relative importance.

Findings

The identification led to a ten-clustered solution, covering a range of areas, requiring technical and behavioral skills. The top five training concerns were also identified using the participants’ ratings of the identified training-need clusters. Furthermore, the merit of concept mapping technique over purely quantitative assessments was also realized.

Research limitations/implications

The study not only identified and evaluated the training needs but also observed the relevance of concept mapping technique. It was observed that the concept mapping technique struck a balance between the two extremes of subjectivity and objectivity while identifying the training needs. The application of concept mapping technique can help in covering the concerns of multiple stakeholders in TNA.

Practical implications

It identifies some key training areas for Fishermen Training Institutions and government bodies in Oman. The research also supports the extension of the application of concept mapping technique to decision-making situations in other areas.

Social implications

Training interventions based on the needs assessment will help fishermen from the Oman’s Batinah coast in gaining additional skills, expertise and income.

Originality/value

This study applies the concept mapping technique in assessing the training needs of fishermen. The research also shares the outcomes of a pioneering attempt to identify fishermen’s training needs in Oman.

Details

European Journal of Training and Development, vol. 38 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-9012

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Article
Publication date: 9 November 2015

Rakesh Belwal, Hanan Al Balushi and Shweta Belwal

Universities and other higher educational institutions play an increasingly important role in providing entrepreneurship education, training, and technical assistance to…

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Abstract

Purpose

Universities and other higher educational institutions play an increasingly important role in providing entrepreneurship education, training, and technical assistance to existing and potential entrepreneurs. The purpose of this paper is to investigate students’ perceptions of entrepreneurship and the role of universities in developing enterprise education in Oman, focusing on the case of Sohar University.

Design/methodology/approach

The research used a questionnaire based survey to collect primary data. From the total population of 3,633 students registered across different faculties during the academic year 2012-2013, a sample size of 200 was drawn using convenience sampling and the proportional allocation method.

Findings

The research outcomes revealed that the majority of the university students were optimistic and interested in starting their own business, but lacked knowledge about how to start a business. The students’ willingness to run a business and their sociable, go-getter attitude, confidence, and effective connections with established entrepreneurs were observed as enablers. Fear of failure and unwillingness to take risks were the major obstacles facing university students in treading an entrepreneurial path.

Practical implications

Overall, the study indicated a need for enterprise education, at programme and course levels, to nurture entrepreneurship among students in Oman.

Social implications

Currently, Omani society is affected by a high level of unemployment. The research outcomes will help policy makers in assessing the potential of enterprise education. The promotion of entrepreneurship among women will enable more women to work shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts in building Oman’s economy. In a region where even today large numbers of women would never remove the face veil in front of male non-family members, these developments are very significant.

Originality/value

Very few studies have examined university students’ attitude to entrepreneurship and enterprise education in Oman. This study helps in bridging that gap.

Details

Education + Training, vol. 57 no. 8/9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0040-0912

Keywords

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