Cultural discontinuities and the transfer of management philosophies and practices
The study was designed to examine the factors which affect the transferability of Western (contemporary British) philosophies and practices to the Arab culture of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The general case of transferability was studied, but it was biased towards its application to management. The thesis opened with a short history of the area under consideration and highlighted the role of the West in the emergence of these modern Arab states. Arab way of life was discussed at some length to illustrate the existence of cultural discontinuities. Data for the research was obtained by distributing a questionnaire to Arab students from the countries concerned who were studying in British Universities and Polytechnics in the Spring of 1984. The students were adjudged to be fresh from their own culture and to be meeting the British educational system and way of life head on. The data was subjected to an extensive, but simple form of statistical analysis which searched for associations and factors relevant to transferability. Factor Analysis was used for the educational and cultural sections. Four main conclusions were drawn. (1) A simple framework, which emerged from the views of students on taught courses, can be used to classify the transferability of subjects, however it relies on judgement to quantify cultural discontinuities. (2) Seventy five percent of respondents experienced some degree of culture shock in Britain. (3) Students generally regarded Western education favourably, but felt that contact with the West would alter Arab society and hence they should take care about what aspects of Western life and culture to accept. (4) National factors as well as cultural factors affect transferability. Finally, future research could fruitfully be concentrated on examining the effectiveness or otherwise of ongoing cross national training programmes.