Saudi Arabian Management Style

As might be expected in a culture where organisations are run along strongly hierarchical lines, managers tend to be very instructional in their approach.

Subordinates view it as the boss role to take decisions and to convey those decisions down the chain for implementation. However, the leader will often include his group in a consensus-style discussion with the final decision being taken by the leader.

One of the by-products of the belief that leaders lead and followers follow is that those things which are not specifically requested are likely to remain undone. It is, therefore, imperative that all instructions given should be clear, unambiguous and complete.

It is important to the boss that his position is respected and subordinates may show extreme levels of deference. It is of course important to remember that this deference is probably not only being shown to the organisational position of the boss but also to his family status, class connections and age.

A brief overview of some key concepts to consider when doing business in Saudi Arabia

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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Saudi Arabia is a globally important country from a number of perspectives. As one of the world’s largest producers of oil, it has a strategic impact on the world’s economy (and only a handful of countries can say that). In addition, as the de facto leader of the Sunni branch of Islam, Saudi has a crucial influence on the rest of the Gulf and beyond into the wider Muslim world.

Saudi Arabia cannot be ignored – it really is that simple. Agree or disagree with the ways things are done in Saudi (any many vehemently disagree without really knowing much about the country) the Kingdom is just too globally significant to be ignored.

Is doing business in Saudi Arabia a good idea for you and your business? If you strip away all of the ‘noise’ which surrounds the country and analyse the fundamentals around demographics, size of the economy, personal wealth and attitude to consumerism, then Saudi starts to look like a great place to do business in. Saudi has a large, increasingly prosperous population which is predominantly youthful and aspirational. They want to buy what you have to sell.

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia is a notoriously complicated place to do business in and if you are planning on doing business in Saudi Arabia it is absolutely essential that you study the Saudi cultural approach to business before you arrive in-country. You need to understand the role played by religion and kinship in all business dealings within the Kingdom and you need to be able to show respect for these twin pillars of commerce. Do your homework in advance – not when you have already made the mistakes.

This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of Saudi Arabian business culture in a concise, easy to follow-format. The document includes information on:

  • Background to business
  • Business Structures
  • Management style
  • Meetings
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips