SOAS University of London

School of Finance and Management

Management in the Middle East and North Africa: Domestic and International Developments

Module Code:
Year of study:
Year 1
Taught in:
Full Year

This course is specially designed for under-graduate study of contemporary international business and management developments in the MENA region. The course is designed to provide the student with the necessary theoretical background to enable an in-depth understanding of the development of MENA economies and how these affect the international business environment. It is designed to give students an overview of various aspects of economic development in the region, as well as the challenges that it faces from a managerial science perspective.

As this course is multidisciplinary in content, students will study a wide range of relevant topics from such disciplines as economics, international trade and business management, negotiation and conflict management. A previous knowledge of these disciplines is not necessary for the study of this course.  Other topics covered include the economic, historical, geographical and political background of the MENA economies, and their influences on the development of a professional management class, price liberalisation and ownership reforms, labour markets, and the public and private sectors. Case studies of MENA business and economic policies and institutions will give students a practical understanding of management issues in the region and also offer insight into fundamental challenges facing future developments.

Upon successful completion of this course students will have acquired a firm understanding of the key elements of MENA economies from an international management perspective. In order to achieve this, a strong emphasis is placed on the relationship between theoretical managerial concepts and how they relate to real world business issues.

Module sign-up information for non-departmental open option students
  • Required approval: Approval is required from the Law and Social Sciences Faculty Office
  • Required pre-requisite module(s): None
  • Year of study: 2
  • Maximum number of non-departmental students permitted per year: 10
  • Weekly timetable: One lecture (2 hours) and one tutorial (1 hour)

Further information on open option modules can be found here

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of a course, a student should be able to demonstrate that they can

  • Understand the economic and political consequences of the economic leap forward, contrasting development before and including the 1950s, after the discovery of oil in the 1960s and 1970s, and since then.   
  • Understand the differences in traditional management practices, locally inspired developments and practices introduced from outside the region
  • Understand how non-local practices have influenced local economic development  
  • Examine the current managerial mechanisms from the major theoretical perspectives, evaluate the disciplining effects of the management reforms and outline the major trade-offs facing future reforms.  
  • Discuss the reform of the state sector, assess its implications from the agency and resource dependence theoretical perspectives, and critically evaluate the future role of state industries in MENA economies
  • Distinguish between the main forms of private ownership in the MENA economies and discuss their contribution to economic growth
  • Analyse the business practices of MENA’s leading non-state firms
  • Outline the economic and political consequences and the key features of ’ rapid economic growth in the MENA region, and discuss their implications for future growth
  • Discuss the changes that have taken place in MENA trade policies, particularly since the 1990s
  • Distinguish between management strategies pursued in different MENA countries, across the MENA region as a whole.
  • Indicate how far strategic changes result from changes in global practice and how far from local factors
  • Examine the efficacy of political controls on trade in the region
  • Discuss the importance of business networks and relational capital, and their role in facilitating network linkages within the different countries of the region and between them
  • With reference to the investment strategies of multi-nationals, identify the main attributes underpinning successful partner selection and evaluate how their presence/absence might affect the performance of a joint venture
  • Explain the influences of traditional and contemporary cultural factors in business negotiations in the region, and how these factors influences local negotiation styles.
  • Evaluate the trade offs between strategic and operational control, the potential for organisational/environmental conflicts and discuss how these conflicts can be resolved in a constructive manner.

Method of assessment

This course is assessed by two essays worth 15% each and 70% by one three hour examination.

Suggested reading

Indicative only.

  • Ahmed, M (1995) Business Ethics in Islam.  Islamabad: The International Institute of Islamic Thought
  • Ali, A (2004) Islamic Perspectives on Management and Organization.  Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
  • Allen, F and G Dale (2000) Comparing Financial Systems. Cambridge MA: MIT Press
  • Alogla, H (1990) Obstacles to Saudization in the Private Sector of the Saudi Arabian Labour Force, Michigan State University Press.
  • Al-Said, H and K Becker (eds) (2003) Management and International Business Issues in Jordan.  London: International Business Press
  • Arab Labor Organization (2002) Handbook of Arab Labor Statistics. Cairo: Arab Labor Organization
  • Baud, I and H Mahgoub (2001) Towards Increasing National Female Participation the Labour Force,  Careers and Training Series No 4.,  Dubai: TANMIA
  • Cunningham, R and Y Sarayrah (1993) Wasta: The Hidden Force in Middle Eastern Society, Westport, Con.: Praeger
  • Daniels, J and L H Radebaugh (1998) International Business: Environments and Operations, Reading (MA): Addison-Wesley
  • Fargany, N.(2001)  Aspects of Labor Migration and Unemployment in the Arab Region. Cairo: Almishkat Centre for Research.
  • Green, J, F Wehrey, and C Wolf (2009) Understanding Iran.  Santa Monica: Rand.
  • Haan, H (2004) Small Enterprises: Women Entrepreneurs in the UAE. Labour Market Series no 19, Dubai: TANMIA
  • Kaza, F (1993) Mass Media, Modernity, and Development: Arab States of the Gulf, Westport, Conn: Praeger
  • Lawrence, P (1990) Management in the Land of Israel Cheltenham: Thornes Middle East Monitor: The Gulf (2010)  Four Scenarios for Political Evolution.  Middle East Monitor: The Gulf.
  • Nydell, O and Margaret K (2002) Understanding Arabs: A guide for Westerners, Yarmouth, Maine: Intercultural Press
  • Roberts, J (2004) The Modern Firm, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Rugman, A and Brewer, T (eds) (2003) The Oxford Handbook of International Business, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Tordoff, W (1997) Government and Politics in Africa, 3rd edn. Macmillan.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules