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Marketing Leadership Challenge: Juggling Cultures

Leadership Challenge: Juggling Cultures

Culture, gender, and leadership can be closely intertwined. In most cultures, even Western cultures, leadership is associated with males. This is even more the case in many Arab Muslim countries where women play a limited role in public and business life.

As a leader of a business division, you face the choice of selecting the leader of a negotiation team to draft a new deal with a potential Saudi Arabian client. By far your best, most experienced, and most skilled negotiator is one of your female executives. She has, for many years, successfully negotiated deals within the United States and in several Western countries. Her second in command is a promising but relatively young male executive who still needs to develop his skills and experience (Nahavandi p. 27).

QUESTIONS:

1. It is your understanding that women in Saudi Arabia do not even drive, let alone participate in business. Is this still true, or is it changing?
2. What is the purpose of the negotiation? How will that affect your choice of negotiators?
3. Who will you send to Saudi Arabia as head of your team? Why?
4. If your CEO is insistent on sending the female executive, what adjustments might you make to ensure that the deal is not put at risk?
5. What are the implications of your decision for your business and the message you send as a leader? Please include internal citations.

Any help and suggestions for these questions will be much appreciated. Thank you.

Solution Preview

Please see response attached, which is also presented below. I hope this helps and take care.

RESPONSE:

Scenario:

Culture, gender, and leadership can be closely intertwined. In most cultures, even Western cultures, leadership is associated with males. This is even more the case in many Arab Muslim countries where women play a limited role in public and business life.

As a leader of a business division, you face the choice of selecting the leader of a negotiation team to draft a new deal with a potential Saudi Arabian client. By far your best, most experienced, and most skilled negotiator is one of your female executives. She has, for many years, successfully negotiated deals within the United States and in several Western countries. Her second in command is a promising but relatively young male executive who still needs to develop his skills and experience (Nahavandi p. 27).

It suggests that you research Saudi Arabia first, so I am wondering if you have researched Saudi Arabia yet. If not, that is the place to start by clicking on the following two excellent websites:
http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/saudi-arabia.htm
https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/sa.html

The first website above provides an excellent cultural analysis of Saudi Arabia according to Geert Hofstede, which is presented below. Briefly, the things that jump out from the analysis that are relevant to the questions below is the fact that Saudi does not accept too much uncertainty (e.g., would a woman leader create too much uncertainty? is the question to consider) and the fact that the score on the Masculinity scale is only slightly above national average, meaning that the gender differences are probably more religious (Muslim) than cultural. However, the vast majority of those people in Saudi Arabia are Muslim (see religious chart at http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/saudi-arabia.htm), so if you decided to send a woman executive as team leader for the negotiation, you would need to make sure the woman follows the rules, mainly associated with dress for women according to Islam (e.g., if the dress is not to the flour, then past the knees, no bare arms, etc.) and communication styles (see more on the website at http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/saudi-arabia.htm)

Now's let read through the Geert Hofstede's analysis of Saudi Arabia to see if other things jump out as relevant to the questions below. (exceprt)

The Geert Hofstede analysis for Saudi Arabia is almost identical to other Arab countries their Muslim faith plays a large role in the people's lives. Large power distance and uncertainty avoidance are the predominant characteristics for this region. This indicates that it is expected and accepted that leaders separate themselves from the group and issue complete and specific directives.

The Geert Hofstede analysis for the Arab World, that includes the countries of Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, demonstrates the Muslim faith plays a significant role in the people's lives.

Large Power Distance (PDI) (80) and Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI) (68) are predominant Hofstede Dimension characteristics for the countries in this region. These societies are more likely to follow a caste system that does not allow significant upward mobility of its citizens. They are ...

Solution Summary

Culture, gender, and leadership can be closely intertwined. Referring to the case in Saudi Arabia, this solution responds in some detail to the questions related to culture, gender and leadership. This solution is 2000 words with online references.

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