When west meets Middle East: the missing link in values evolution

Bellingham, J 2018, When west meets Middle East: the missing link in values evolution, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Graduate School of Business and Law, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title When west meets Middle East: the missing link in values evolution
Author(s) Bellingham, J
Year 2018
Abstract This research explores the relationship between the culture of the Arab Gulf State of Oman and Omani employee attitudes towards the workplace. A review of the organisational literature suggests that members of a traditional Middle Eastern culture, such as Oman’s, are likely to experience difficulty with Western management practices, due to the Western cultural values embedded in those practices. On the other hand, it is proposed in the literature that, given the region’s transitional stage of development, not all Gulf employees would necessarily resist management practices embedded with Western cultural values. A key objective of this research then is to explore the ways in which Arab Gulf employees are currently experiencing, and reacting to, organisational situations where traditional culture intersects in challenging ways with Western management practices.

An inductive qualitative research design and an interpretive ethnography methodology were employed by the researcher. Thirty-five semi-structured interviews with employees in Oman were conducted. All interviews were conducted away from the workplace, and an interview protocol was followed. Values-based data analysis and interpretation, in conjunction with cognitive mapping, was used to arrive at the findings.

An initial key finding was that the local cultural values, although rather traditional, are nevertheless informing positive attitudes towards the contemporary workplace in a somewhat surprising way. The thesis then draws on the crossvergence account of values evolution, and on ‘possible self’ theory in conjunction with the qualitative data to explain why and when contemporary workplace practices which conflict with traditional sociocultural values will be accepted by employees, and when they will be rejected. A further key finding is that there has been a missing link, not previously understood and included, in values evolution. Brought to the surface in this research as a discovery is the finding that cultural values which emphasise rules and duties can produce an ‘ought self’ which influences perception and behaviour. This finding demonstrates that researchers cannot rely upon a straightforwardly direct link between cultural values and employee attitudes.The author suggests strategies for managers to frame the introduction of new workplace practices in ways that assist employees to see those practices as aligning with traditional sociocultural values.

This thesis makes a significant and original contribution to cross-cultural theory, particularly as it attempts to explain the processes of values evolution by providing an explanatory ‘missing link’ model of the values-evolution process. In this way, the study goes beyond previous research into Gulf States' culture by thoroughly and deeply characterising that culture, and by uncovering and explaining its dynamic interactions with the self-concept and resultant attitudes toward the workplace.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Graduate School of Business and Law
Subjects Organisational Behaviour
Social and Cultural Anthropology
Business and Management not elsewhere classified
Keyword(s) Gulf States
workplace attitudes
values evolution
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Created: Mon, 16 Apr 2018, 08:21:44 EST by Denise Paciocco
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