The Company: Al-Zulfi Group in Qatar
Issue: Reservations about hiring women
Expansion plan: Due to market saturation coupled with growing competition in India, SSSL aims to target international geographic segments with excellent demand for security system products (Zain, 2017).
Partnership: SSSL proposes a partnership to Al-Zulfi Group because it is legally bound (as per foreign investment laws in Qatar) to partner with a local company with 51% share to be held by the local company to expand to Qatar (Zain, 2017).
Conflict: Samir Singh, the CEO at SSSL wants Seema Saran to lead the project in Qatar, while Zulfi Khan, the Director of Al-Zulfi Group strongly condemns the women’s involvement in technical fields, as it is against the cultural traditions of Qatar. However, he agrees to meet with Seema on Singh’s continuous insistence (Zain, 2017).
1. In an environment where workplace and marketplace are becoming more globalized, what is the influence of culture and tradition on the transnational partnership?
Culture and tradition specific approach of entrepreneurs has a strong impact on transnational partnerships despite growing trends of globalization and emerging realization of the world’s becoming a “global village”. There are different cultures in different parts of the world. Then, there are several dominant predictors and components of each long-established culture such as religion, history, traditional values, etc. These values and beliefs have a strong influence on business because they associate with a political approach, laws, and bias and stereotypes towards a certain category of individuals or matters (Hogan, 2012).
As two companies belonging to two different countries aim to enter into a partnership with each other, they are faced with cultural barriers. The difference of culture makes it difficult for the companies aiming at transnational partnerships to bring harmony at different levels of operations (Hogan, 2012). For example, there can be organizational values of one party, which are not acceptable for the counterparty based on strong negative bias or discrimination against them among them.
An example of these differences is provided in the case wherein Singh Security System Limited offers partnership to Al-Zulfi Group. Both the parties, at first, feel happy to work with one another based on a common aim. However, Zulfi Khan strongly criticizes and denies Seema’s proposed position as a project manager for the company’s operations in Qatar (Zain, 2017). He argues that their company is guided by Qatari values and women’s participation in the workforce is hardly accepted over there. Seema and Singh are also concerned over the difference of culture between India and Qatar, but they are willing to adapt to new conditions in the best interest of business. Singh is not willing to rely on anyone other than Seema due her tested capabilities and competencies. On the other hand, Khan is unwilling to accept Seema as a manager based on his being a strong follower of Qatari values (Zain, 2017).
2. In your opinion, what should Samir Singh do? Why? And How?
Khan, at first, should get command on the cultural values in Qatar with influence in Qatari organizations. He should study the cases wherein foreign women have been successful in handling technical projects in Qatar (Zain, 2017). These success stories would provide him several clues helping him to find the most appropriate direction.
He should also ask Seema to develop her knowledge about the Qatari traditions and the way in which women can play any constructive role in this regard. He should advise Seema to have proper command on the Qatari’s approach to women i.e. what drives their discrimination or stereotypical thinking.
After both have completed the investigation, there should be brainstorming wherein they would share information with each other. They should exchange ideas and find out the ways to convince Khan that having Seema in Al-Zulfi’s workforce can be beneficial for all stakeholders (Zain, 2017).
Singh should conduct a proper presentation wherein all key members including directors and managers at Al-Zulfi will participate. In that presentation, Singh should refer to the success stories that he had studied during his course of learning. He should communicate his ideas to Khan and all other participants in a logical manner showing them the route map to success. He should show them how growing trends of globalization are catching up and values are undergoing transitions. He should also show that the businesses that are quick to adapt to new changes in the external environment of business have higher chances of survival, profitability, and growth (Zain, 2017).
If for example, Al-Zulfi does not agree to the Singh’s proposal, Singh has two possible options available to him. Either he can consider another company with a positive approach to cultural difference and no concerns over women’s participation in the workforce, or he should think of some male members of his workforce as the project manager for his Qatari business. However, the second option is not feasible, because it involves entering into a partnership without optimizing the plan. Therefore, switching to another entity (in the event of Khan’s ultimate denying to Seema) would be a better and more practical idea.
3. Can Saran, or any woman, be effective in Qatar? What about in all parts of the world? How or why not?
The answer to this question may vary from business to business, and organization to organization in case of Qatar. Firstly, it is seen that Qatari business environment is dominantly governed by religion. There is deep rooted belief that women’s scope of roles and responsibilities is confined to their homes, and women’s interest in business or job is considered revolt against traditionally established values. Khan’s exclaiming “tauba tauba” on knowing that Singh has women in his workforce is indicative of extreme prohibition and non-acceptance of women in Qatar (Zain, 2017).
Then, women have to strictly follow the rules of “sharia” (Islamic jurisdiction) requiring them to keep their bodies and faces covered while interacting with males. This factor, again, is baring the possibilities of playing a constructive role in practical fields. These prohibitions are at the bottom of male dominated culture both in social and organizational context making it difficult for women to rise to the practical level.
Saran or any other foreign women will be faced with critical challenges with her career in Qatar. There are two things, however, which can play some moderating role in this regard. One of those is exceptional past performance which can somehow make Khan or other Qatari entrepreneurs sacrifice traditional values in favor of business. In addition, they can also be acceptable if they follow or take care of Islamic rules and values. For example, Khan considers Seema a strong prospect but requires her to be careful about and respectful towards Islamic rituals (such as avoiding eating during fasting month) (Zain, 2017). It means that a woman with strong capabilities coupled with understanding and respect to Islam values can somehow play some constructive role in Qatar.
As for other parts of the world, women have fairer chances of career growth in geographic segments and culture that are characterized by individualism (Cuddy et al., 2015). In individualistic societies, women not only are welcomed, but their participation is also considered important for the organizational profitability and productivity. For example, in the case of Singh Security System Limited, it is a woman i.e. Seema Sara who mainly contributed to the success of the organization. That is why Singh has been a strong advocate of her participation in the workforce with regard to his partnership with the Qatari company.
While seen from the perspectives of merit, Seema has every chance to get hired by Al-Zulfi Groups, but she does not fit with Qatari values that have never been in support of women with regard to her role at practical or technical level. However, she or any other lady with the same set of skills, experience, and expertise could have easily made her way to success in an individualistic society.
Cuddy, A. J., Wolf, E. B., Glick, P., Crotty, S., Chong, J., & Norton, M. I. (2015). Men as cultural ideals: Cultural values moderate gender stereotype content. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 109(4), 622-635. doi:10.1037/pspi0000027
Hogan, R. (2012). Transnational distance learning and building new markets for universities.
Zain, M. (2017). Competence, competitiveness, and intercultural conflict in Qatar. Ivey Publishing.