Wasta in the Jordanian Context

Mohammad Ta’Amnha, Susan Sayce, Olga Tregaskis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

6 Citations (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Wasta is a powerful and pervasive social mechanism underpinning the employment relationship in Arabic societies. It is a specific form of social capital that influences several aspects of people’s lives and the way in which business is conducted (Sabri, 2011). Therefore, “[o]ne of the greatest challenges to managers and researchers in the Arab world has been in understanding the social networks or "wasta" that pervade business activities” (Iles et al., 2012, p.4). Nevertheless, there is a huge gap in the literature on several aspects of Wasta, including its meanings, influences, downsides and usage, and how it is perceived by people and organizations (Barnett et al., 2011, Loewe et al., 2008). The relational dynamic connecting individual, work environments and societal norms makes Wasta a mechanism of particular relevance to the study of Human Resource Management issues, and one that has been recognised as lacking attention (Aladwan et al., 2014, Budhwar and Mellahi, 2007, Altarawneh and Aldehayyat, 2011). The significance of Wasta has arguable taken on new meaning arising from the current transitions taking place in the Arab region that offer an unprecedented “quasi-experimental setting” in which to examine theories and frameworks (Zahra, 2011, p.2). For instance, Sidani and Showail (2013) claimed that the current Arab Spring revolutions have revealed that the young generation is less attached to many traditional values, and they have therefore developed new understandings and perceptions of their lives. In contrast, twenty-five years ago Faisal (1990) found that 79.4% of respondents in an Arabic context indicated that both old and young people used Wasta; and just prior to the rise of political tensions in Jordan, the Arab Archives Institute (2000) found that 78% of the Jordanian people believed that Wasta would remain strong in Jordanian society and that the need for its intervention was increasing.

This chapter is devoted to beginning to address the void in our understanding of the meaning and impact of Wasta in contemporary Jordanian society. This chapter will draw on available literature and empirical research to clarify the realities of Wasta as experienced by those working in a Jordanian context, and to identify the cultural and institutional factors shaping the meaning of Wasta and its impact.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Human Resource Management in the Middle East
EditorsPawan S. Budhwar, Kamel Mellahi
Place of PublicationCheltenham
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing
Pages393-411
ISBN (Electronic)978 1 78471 952 4
ISBN (Print)978 1 78471 951 7
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2016

Keywords

  • HRM
  • Wasta
  • Middle-East
  • capital

Cite this