Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Afsaneh Nahavandi, Ph.D., Chair Hans Schmitz, Ph.D., Member Juan Roche, Ph.D., Member


leadership, western leadership, Middle East, Egypt, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, cross cultural, MBA, management, family business, entrepreneurship, professional development, personal development, context, environment


The purpose of this study is to understand how western-developed leadership theories are translated and practiced in the Modern Arab Middle East (MAME). Over the past century the notion of leadership has progressed through phases of understanding, definition, and practice. This evolution continues today and is no longer contained to the academic and practice-oriented institutions of North America and Europe. Through western-styled educational institutions and professional industries, western-developed leadership theories have stretched around the globe, including the MAME. While this is known, what is much less understood is how these theories are adopted and adapted. This study’s objective is to understand what theories of leadership are taught at Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs in the Modern Arab Middle East and how are they applied in local contexts.

The research design was qualitative, interpretivist, and exploratory in nature. Data was collected from the MBA programs, their faculty alumni, and by the observations of the researcher. Publicly available documents were gathered by from online sources and during visits to the programs. Interviewed with respondents were conducted both in-person and through phone and digital conversations. Documents and transcripts were catalogued and thematically analyzed with the resulting themes constituting the findings of the study.

The first set of findings centers around the question of how leadership is situated as well as what leadership theories are taught and how. It was found that leadership is professed to be highly valued, is broadly defined, and that is taught through traditional educational methods. The second set of findings pertain to what practitioners do with this education. It was found that leadership was spoken of in nine ways: local, regional, and internationally; a changing environment; entrepreneurship; family business; management preferred over leadership, and professional or personal development. Additionally, respondents reported that they experience the concept of leadership to be enigmatic, for a few, and future oriented.

This study is hoped to be one of a series to come that considers how western-leadership theory is used in the MAME with an aim that theory may be useful and congruent within local and regional contexts.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies