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Article
Publication date: 19 August 2022

Abraham Stefanidis, Moshe Banai and Grace K. Dagher

This study refines theory of social capital by nesting it within a cultural context. More specifically, it aims at describing, explaining, and predicting the role of wasta

Abstract

Purpose

This study refines theory of social capital by nesting it within a cultural context. More specifically, it aims at describing, explaining, and predicting the role of wasta, a social capital concept, as a moderator in the relationship between employees' ethical idealism and work engagement in Lebanon.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on a survey questionnaire translated from English into Arabic, 317 responses were collected from employees in Lebanon. Confirmatory factor analysis and hierarchical regression analysis were employed to test the hypothesized relationships among the examined variables.

Findings

Ethical idealism was found to be positively related to work engagement, and wasta was found to moderate the relationship between ethical idealism and work engagement. Work engagement levels of employees who displayed high levels of ethical idealism were less influenced by the negative effect of wasta than work engagement levels of employees who displayed low levels of ethical idealism.

Practical implications

Human resource managers, international negotiators, and global executives in Lebanon may use the findings of this study to update corporate human resources systems, such as employee recruitment and selection, handbooks, orientation, training programs, and performance appraisal, to better address employee attitudes toward the practice of wasta.

Originality/value

The study adds ethical idealism as an antecedent of work engagement, demonstrating the significant impact that wasta, with its positive and negative characteristics, has on the engagement of employees from the Arab world.

Details

Employee Relations: The International Journal, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 10 August 2022

Omar AlHussainan, Ying Guo, Hussain Gulzar Rammal, Ryan W. Tang and Ismail Golgeci

The purpose of this study is to empirically investigate the dark side of business-to-business (B2B) relationships in traditional business practices worldwide that rely on…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to empirically investigate the dark side of business-to-business (B2B) relationships in traditional business practices worldwide that rely on strong networks.

Design/methodology/approach

This study applies a questionnaire survey to collect data from buyers in 224 Kuwaiti firms and uses the partial least squares structural equation model for data analysis.

Findings

Drawing on the social exchange theory, we test the relationships between B2B wasta, relationship satisfaction, innovation and efficiency. The findings show that despite the belief that wasta brings long-term benefits when applied in B2B relationships, it negatively impacts the firm’s efficiency.

Originality/value

This study contributes to the existing literature on B2B relationships by identifying important issues related to the multifaceted nature of B2B wasta relationships. The study confirms the importance of relational and innovation benefits over economic consequences based on elements of social exchange theory, which extends our current understanding of the application of SET in B2B wasta relationships.

Details

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0885-8624

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 5 August 2022

Fawaz Baddar ALHussan and Faten Baddar AL-Husan

Interpersonal and informal ties and networks, known as wasta in the Arab Middle East region, remain a major force in Middle Eastern societies, determining most economic…

Abstract

Interpersonal and informal ties and networks, known as wasta in the Arab Middle East region, remain a major force in Middle Eastern societies, determining most economic, social and political outcomes. Yet the literature on informal ties and networks is largely characterized by a lack of contributions from the Arab world, despite the adverse effect that lack of understanding of the wasta phenomenon is having on the effectiveness of expatriate managers and subsequently on business performance. This chapter therefore aims to shed light on the meaning, characteristics, structure, and role of wasta in establishing and maintaining successful business relationships. It ends with recommendations for foreign investors and international managers who wish to establish and maintain successful business relationships in the Middle East on how to capitalize on interpersonal networks within this process.

Details

Informal Networks in International Business
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83982-878-2

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 22 March 2022

Mohammad Alshallaqi

This study focuses on the practical and ethical implications of the cultural practice of wasta for organizational ethnography in the Middle East. Wasta is a form of…

Abstract

Purpose

This study focuses on the practical and ethical implications of the cultural practice of wasta for organizational ethnography in the Middle East. Wasta is a form of intercession rooted in the Middle Eastern cultural context and is similar to other cultural practices such as “guanxi” in China. Such practices do not only shape organizational lives in those contexts, but also how organizational ethnographies are designed and carried out.

Design/methodology/approach

The data in this study are derived from field notes and the author’s reflections on the fieldwork of an organizational ethnography aimed to investigate a digital transformation project.

Findings

This study draws on the lens of positionality to illustrate how wasta helps favourably reconfigure a researcher’s positionality during interactions with gatekeepers and participants, thereby facilitating access and data collection. The study also presents the ethical concerns related to reciprocity triggered by wasta. Finally, this study demonstrates how wasta functions as a situated system to ensure ethical research practices.

Originality/value

The study demonstrates that it is inevitable that organizational ethnographers engage with cultural practices such as wasta or guanxi during fieldwork in such cultural contexts. Furthermore, the study provides theoretical and methodological contributions for future researchers by engaging in a reflexive exercise to present a more nuanced and theoretically informed understanding of wasta. Moreover, it shows how it is exercised during fieldwork, the ethical concerns inherent in its exercise and how they can be mitigated. The paper concludes with practical recommendations derived from this fieldwork experience for future research.

Details

Journal of Organizational Ethnography, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-6749

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 25 October 2011

Ahmed A. Mohamed and Mohamad S. Mohamad

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,

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Abstract

Purpose

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.

Design/methodology/approach

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.

Findings

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.

Originality/value

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.

Details

Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal, vol. 18 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1352-7606

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 10 December 2018

Hussain Albin Shaikh, Sharon Purchase and Gregory Brush

The purpose of this study is to understand the development of social capital in an Arab business environment, and provide an in-depth description of the nature and role of…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to understand the development of social capital in an Arab business environment, and provide an in-depth description of the nature and role of three key Arabic business relationship characteristics (ehsan, et-moone and wasta), their impact on each other and key influencing factors.

Design/methodology/approach

A qualitative research design was used, in which face-to-face semi-structured interviews were conducted with innovation teams (22 team members) at six industrial small and medium-sized enterprises in Saudi Arabia. The interviews were recorded and transcribed, then analyzed (thematic coding) through NVivo.

Findings

The findings suggest that wasta, ehsan and et-moone align closely with the three social capital dimensions (structural, cognitive and relational); thus, developing these three relationship characteristics most likely results in developing social capital. The findings also expand the description of the three business relationship characteristics. Moreover, ehsan, et-moone and wasta appear to influence each other, and are affected by other factors such as an individual’s age and position, and the duration of the relationship. Ehsan has a positive influence on the development of et-moone, while the existence of et-moone appears to be necessary for the establishment of wasta-capital. A high level of ehsan might influence the relationship between et-moone and wasta-use and limit the negative usage of wasta.

Practical implications

International managers can improve the level of ehsan in their organizational and business relationships through assigning incentives and playing the role of moral champion to encourage ehsan behavior. Managers aiming to increase et-moone may choose team members with a high level of ehsan, emphasizing the development of personal relationships, and providing opportunities for socialization both inside and outside the workplace. A high level of ehsan and et-moone will assist managers to develop and use wasta.

Originality/value

This study makes a threefold contribution to the literature. First, it provides an expanded description of the three Arabic business relationship characteristics and how they align closely with the dimensions of social capital. Wasta aligns with the structural dimension and ehsan aligns with the cognitive dimension, while et-moone aligns closely with the relational dimension. Second, it suggests and shows how the three relationship characteristics might interact with each other. Ehsan appears to influence et-moone, and also the relationship between et-moone and wasta. Et-moone appears to have a positive influence on wasta use. Third, the findings also indicate that there might be other factors (e.g. age and position) that influence the interactions between the three business relationship characteristics.

Details

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, vol. 34 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0885-8624

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 30 July 2019

Ron Berger, Ram Herstein, Daniel McCarthy and Sheila Puffer

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the role of Wasta, a culturally based system of social networks of exchange among in-group members in the Arab world, as…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the role of Wasta, a culturally based system of social networks of exchange among in-group members in the Arab world, as exemplified by three groups of Arabs in the Palestinian Authority, and then compares it to Guanxi (China), Sviazi (Russia) and JaanPechaan (India). The use of social networks is a common business model around the world to accomplish business objectives and is especially relied upon in emerging economies where formal institutions are weak. It is important to understand the commonalities and differences in the use of reciprocity in various cultural contexts in order to conduct business effectively. The aim of the paper is to illustrate the structure of Wasta and how it is perceived and constructed among three Arab social groups, and then compare and contrast it with social business models in three other high context cultures.

Design/methodology/approach

Qualitative approach based on interviews to better understand the relationships involved.

Findings

The findings provide the foundation for a number of critical insights for non-Arab managers seeking to do business in the Arab world. For international managers to conduct business successfully, it is essential to understand how Wasta works, and establish relationships with members of influential social networks by building trust over time such that they create Wasta for themselves and indirectly for their firms. Using Wasta in the Arab world, as noted above, is similar to doing business successfully in other emerging economies such as using Sviazi in Russia (McCarthy and Puffer, 2008; Berger et al., 2017), Guanxi in China (Yen et al., 2011) and Jaan–Pechaan in India (Bhattacharjee and Zhang, 2011). The authors feel more confident in stating this view after comparing Wasta with these other three concepts, and noting that all four are built upon the same fundamental constructs.

Research limitations/implications

The authors recognize that the study is limited in terms of the geographical sample since it does not include any non-Palestinians, although the managers the authors sampled came from various regions in the Palestinian authority. Additionally, Palestinian managers are highly educated and mobile, and can be found in many other Arab countries working in managerial positions (Zineldin, 2002), thus potentially broadening the generalizability of the findings. Nonetheless, the samples would be called ones of convenience rather than randomly drawn from the three groups, since the latter would be extremely difficult to execute not only in the Palestinian Authority but in most of the Arab world due to the culturally based reluctance to provide sensitive information to those outside one’s network. Despite the difficulties that might be involved in exploring such culturally sensitive issues as the authors did in this study, the benefits in knowledge gained can be of significant importance to the study of international business in emerging and transition economies.

Originality/value

Little research has focused on the use of Wasta in the Arab world, a gap which this paper addresses. The authors do so by analyzing the views of Wasta held by three important groups – leaders, business people and students. While each type of reciprocity has its own unique characteristics, the authors focus on three interrelated constructs that have been found to underlie the use of reciprocity in various cultures. In the Arab world, these are Hamola, which incorporates reciprocity; Somah, that incorporates trust; and Mojamala, which incorporates empathy through social business networks.

Details

International Journal of Emerging Markets, vol. 14 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-8809

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 7 June 2011

Hayfaa Tlaiss and Saleema Kauser

Frequently used in fostering the career progression of individuals this paper aims to explore the concept of wasta and its significance in the career advancement of…

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Abstract

Purpose

Frequently used in fostering the career progression of individuals this paper aims to explore the concept of wasta and its significance in the career advancement of individuals in the Middle Eastern region. The paper also seeks to compare wasta with networking and mentoring.

Design/methodology/approach

The argument is based on relevant literature, the authors' own knowledge through conducting research in the Arab world, informal interviews and survey data conducted across the Middle Eastern Region.

Findings

The research clearly shows that on balance wasta remains traditional in its influence in the career advancement of individuals and business life and social life and is unlikely to diminish in the near future, despite the perception that it is an unfair practice. Wasta also displays similarities and differences with networking and mentoring.

Research implications/limitations

Fundamental knowledge on wasta is limited precluding reliable conclusions on how wasta compares with networking and mentoring. Further research needs to be conducted with a larger sample, across a range of industries.

Practical implications

The paper suggests the need for human resource departments of Middle Eastern organizations to create conditions that encourage managers to develop social relationships given the lack of interactive support mechanisms.

Originality/value

Given the token status of systematic management studies in the Arab world, this research is important as it extends knowledge in wasta practices in the region, and also in comparing wasta with networking and mentoring. Overall, the paper argues that wasta is a lucrative area for future research.

Details

Journal of European Industrial Training, vol. 35 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0309-0590

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 8 May 2018

Yassine Sefiani, Barry J. Davies, Robin Bown and Neilson Kite

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the impact of networking on business performance by uncovering particular and significant methods of pursuing business…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the impact of networking on business performance by uncovering particular and significant methods of pursuing business connections, for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Tangier.

Design/methodology/approach

A two-stage design, which incorporated both quantitative and qualitative approaches, was employed in this study. Approaches were employed in succession with the findings from the quantitative phase informing the qualitative phase. Initially, a paper and online survey questionnaire was administered to a population of 365 industrial SMEs to gain some insights on the perceptions of owner-managers of the impact of networking on business performance. Following the quantitative phase, 15 in-depth face-to-face semi-structured interviews were conducted with selected owner-managers of SMEs, forming a judgmental selection, to explore their experiences, beliefs, and attitudes with respect to networking factor.

Findings

Both quantitative and qualitative phases of the study found that networking was a significant factor in influencing the success of SMEs. The concept of wasta, the Arabic word for connections, emerged from the qualitative phase. Findings show that using wasta, through politico-business networks is important since it enables access to current information that is crucial for the success of SMEs. The concept of wasta was also mentioned in relation to financial resources and suppliers. Findings revealed that strong relationships with suppliers enable firms to get financial resources in the form of trade credits. Furthermore, the relationship between wasta and human resources was also revealed. Findings showed that owner-managers use their network relations through wasta in order to recruit their staff.

Research limitations/implications

The findings of this study add to the understanding of networking in Arabic countries with the importance of wasta in an economy that functions on relationships. The findings of this study could therefore be useful to international managers to assist their intercultural effectiveness by adjusting to culture-specific networking in Tangier.

Originality/value

This study is among those few studies located in the Middle East North Africa region that explore the performance of SMEs from the perceptions of owner-managers themselves, and not based on aggregate or economic data. It supports previous findings of several studies and contributes additional evidence that suggests the significance of wasta and its impact on SME success.

Details

EuroMed Journal of Business, vol. 13 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1450-2194

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 13 August 2020

Arwa Al-Twal and Khaled Aladwan

This study aims to uncover graduating students’ standpoints on Wasta through exploring their motives to use it and its potential influences on them particularly when they…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to uncover graduating students’ standpoints on Wasta through exploring their motives to use it and its potential influences on them particularly when they move to a workplace (i.e. after leveraging it to gain employment).

Design/methodology/approach

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 26 graduating students studying at a Jordanian private university.

Findings

Graduating students considered Wasta as a gateway to employment, which rationalised their motives to use it in terms of the perceived lack of equal opportunities in the market, and the absence of rules and regulations that inhibit it. However, they also perceived that being hired through Wasta could have positive and negative impacts on them.

Originality/value

The findings of the study enriched the understanding of various aspects of Wasta, such as why it is used, how it works and how it could have harmful effects on those who benefit from it in addition to those who do not have it, while previous literature primarily focussed on the latter. Although individuals may share similar contextual pressures that encourage them to use Wasta for employment purposes, this research shows that they would accept and justify its use for themselves, yet reject it for others. This study emphasises the need to conduct further research to explain these contradictory views. It also suggests exploring the motives of the patrons of Wasta and its influences on them when they offer it. This is to understand the psychology of offering Wasta and identify the roles of the parties who get involved in it.

Details

International Journal of Organizational Analysis, vol. 29 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1934-8835

Keywords

1 – 10 of 208