GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Title of Paper:
Setting the Agenda for Global Dialogue: A Theoretical and Practical Approach to Business Ethics in Saudi Arabia
Paper Proposal Text :
This paper will offer a connected narrative focused on a single Gulf country, namely Saudi Arabia. It is a narrative that looks at Saudi Arabia as a country that is looking to be more self-reliant in terms of employment and talent management in its domestic economy and international business. Saudi organizations seek to draw on best practice and excellence from around the world, but in some areas, particularly in employee engagement, this aim sits in tension with how Saudi companies can be global corporate citizens, given the challenges in specific areas such as gender, but also in general areas of corporate values, business ethics, employee engagement and social responsibility. An added complexity is the process of Saudization, which has the
objective of self-reliance but is hampered by a lack of skills in many areas and reliance on international companies and expats to build skills and provide coaching.

This paper will approach the issue on 3 fronts:
1.Globalization and Saudi Arabia
2.Two Case Studies: Saudi Aramco, SABIC
3.An Agenda for ethical dialogue

Globalization: Companies are trying to build culture, but which culture? A headquartered Saudi company presents problems in respect to the other parts of the world which are reporting to it as the summit of leadership. This is particularly obvious in areas such as gender issues, but also in terms of empowerment and leadership. This presents challenges that are both practical, such as skill shortages, and in certain behaviours, such as the project delivery and the sense of Inshallah. The primary areas of focus will be: The challenge of skills shortage, empowerment, leadership and project management.
Case Studies: To highlight some of the key issues, this paper will feature two case studies the author has worked on directly:
1.Entrenchment of values at Saudi Aramco
2.Challenges in creating an internal global dialogue at SABIC

Companies are trying to build culture, but which culture? A headquartered Saudi company presents challenges in terms of trenching values in a global company, and also in creating dialogue globally across the organization in order to create a coherent set of cultures. The author argues there is no such thing as corporate culture, and urges organizations to approach the global challenge by recognizing the need to harmonize a set of different cultures that exists within an organization.

Ethics: The concluding section will focus on the problem of ethics, and outline some avenues for dialogue, which recognizes the range of cultures, or sub-cultures, that exist within an organization. It will look at Western business ethics, and whether ethics as a cultural aspect can be really set aside from Islam. If Western business ethics are grounded in a Christian vision which have undergone a process of secularization, what will happen with Islamic ethical ideas that are rooted in different soil? The author does not propose to offer final answers to the complexities, rather he will set out some avenues and an agenda for dialogue about global ethics and religion in business.

The author draws on his academic work and practical consulting experience to offer a paper that addresses both the theoretical and practical challenges the workshop is highlighting.