Business is usually developed around a family unit with all key employees coming from the extended family.
Nepotism is a way of life and the idea that positions would not be given to family members is incomprehensible. Who can you trust if not your own family? Within this family-based structure, the company would be developed along strongly hierarchical lines with the majority of power being held at the top by the senior, usually older family members.
Islam teaches the importance of family relationships, loyalty and the need to show respect to older people and forms the backdrop to social organisation. Trying to introduce flatter systems where promotion is based upon demonstrable talent rather than connections could be seen to fly in the face of culture, history and religion.
As all business is family and relationship-based, it is absolutely vital to be prepared to devote as much time and effort as necessary to relationship-building. Every contact within an organisation is important, as you may not be aware of everybody’s connections. A seemingly lowly employee may prove to be a favoured relative of a senior figure and therefore of greater potential help than some other apparently more important contact.
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This World Business Culture profile is designed as an introduction to business culture in Saudi Arabia only and a more detailed understanding needs a more in-depth exploration which we can provide through our training and consultancy services.