First Call

Academy of International Business
AIB-MENA Chapter 5th Annual Conference Call for Papers
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Date: 13-15 January 2015

“Bridging the Divide”

Cognitive Dissonance between Management Theory and Practice
Developing Relevant and Impactful Research in the Arab Middle East

Globally, the impact and implications of management research on managerial practice is a topic of ongoing debate within the scholarly community. The extent that management scholarship should and does inform managerial practice remains uncertain (i.e., Ireland, 2012; Bartunek, 2007). To respond to the widening chasm between research and practice, a “battle” between the ivory tower of theory, and the allure of pragmatism of everyday problems practitioners face in “real world”, How might we as international business scholars take action to begin bridging this gap? What steps can be taken to ensure that our research results have a positive and meaningful impact rather than evoking further confusion and impracticality?

Many practitioners believe that the work management researchers produce today is less actionable and hence potentially less relevant to those we teach. Another factor that contributes to the gap among management research, teaching, and managerial practice, lies with research contextualization (Rousseau and Fried, 2001). For instance, North American-based research on organizations, especially research on behavior within them, has been largely domestically focused (Porter, 1996). In fact, Middle East and North Africa (MENA) based management research has contributed to less than 1 percent of all articles published in top tier journals between 1990-2010 (Balakrishnan, 2013; Robertson et al., 2001). Kiss and colleagues (2011)’s recent review on international entrepreneurship revealed that among all published entrepreneurship research in leading journals, those that explored entrepreneurial phenomena in the Middle East counted less than 0.2%[1]. Furthermore, Thompson Reuters finds that only 4 percent of the world’s scientific literature is from the Middle East with 90 percent of that output from Turkey, Iran, Egypt, KSA and Jordan (Adams et al., 2011). Studying the region, its organizations, and managerial behaviors can add richness to management scholarship and practice. This review led to the hypothesis that MENA based management research significantly lags behind managerial practice, especially with exploratory studies addressing questions relevant to Middle Eastern organizations. Hence, there is an urgency to develop theories that offer meaningful explanations of the MENA phenomena. Inevitably, how can we develop indigenous knowledge (grounded in the MENA context), which adopts Middle Eastern perspectives in conceptualizing research problems and formulating theories.

Conference Background

There is a constant plea for attention to context in management research (Barney & Zhang, 2009;
Tsui, Schoonhoven, Meyer, Lau, & Milkovich, 2004: 136) as over 80 percent of all management research is conducted in North America, Europe, and Japan. The preponderance of North American and Western European periodicals provides evidence that the major contributors to management knowledge are scholars from the West. Empirical research on emerging regions such as MENA is important because established theories derived from data gathered in developed nations are not necessarily applicable to emerging markets. A critical question raised is, how often are theories and paradigms originated from the U.S. replicated or re-tested in the Middle East given its vast institutional and socio-cultural differences.

The nature of management studies is subject to continual questioning and evaluation by scholars (Astley, 1985; Clegg & Hardy, 1996; Whitley, 2003; Reed, 2006; Tsui, 2009). Just as doubts were expressed on the applicability of Japanese management practices in the U.S. on cultural grounds, U.S. based management and business models have had to be qualified for acceptance elsewhere. Original theorizing on Middle East based business and management practices is still at a primitive stage (Huang & Balakrishnan, 2013), The work of scholars researching the Middle East (see summary by Zahra, 2011) encompasses a wide range of issues, methods, and philosophies, emerging themes of Middle East based research (such as:Wasta, Islamic finance), were valuable for practitioners to gain insights in how to improve the performance and effectiveness of firms operating in this context. The economic and social transformation in the MENA region over the past two decades has been phenomenal, the key challenge for management researchers is to understand the complexities and continuing changes in the emerging but evolving institutional environment and the implications for managerial practices and organizing patterns of different types of private, public and semi-public enterprises embedded in this culturally and economically diversified environment.

Indigenous knowledge about management in the Middle East will be essential, as it can offer new insight and contribute to the developments of generalizable theories, which in turn will broaden the conceptual realm and understanding of unique management practices for the country and wider region. Scientific advancement benefits from ‘a necessary tension between the development, refinement, and exploitation of existing knowledge and methods and the exploration of possible new directions’ (Kuhn, 1996; March, 2005: 8). In their attempts to extend existing knowledge to novel contexts, Middle East based researchers might benefit from exploring new directions through contextualized studies, an approach that is critical for the essential advancement of scientific knowledge. We use the term “indigenous” to describe the type of context-specific research involving the highest degree of contextualization, or research that does not aim to test an existing theory but to derive new theories of the phenomena. In other words, contextualized management research must be indigenous. The recent trends and phenomena one can observe in the Middle East or indeed in countries such as the UAE (United Arab Emirates) reflect a broad span of interest of the management research and bode well for the efforts at developing indigenous management theory.

Call for Papers

The 5th annual conference of AIBMENA will be held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, between13-15 January 2015. Theoretical and empirical papers using quantitative, qualitative, and or mixed-methods approaches could address a wide range of issues, including but not limited to topics below:

  • FDI, Modal choice, and internationalization in MENA
  • International Marketing and creating global brands
  • Regional policies, NGOs, and governance
  • Government Policy and national competitiveness
  • International relations between/among MENA countries
  • MENA-Africa relations: past, and present trends
  • Building Cities of the Future: Sustainability, security, and migration
  • International/Islamic Finance and Banking
  • Cross/intra cultural management
  • Expatriate and international mobility, and careers in MENA
  • Knowledge management in the region
  • International entrepreneurship and family business
  • Employment, employability, and entrepreneurship
  • Creating and enabling ecosystems for Born Global
  • Social Entrepreneurship and facilitating international scalability
  • Research methods in international business
  • Social media in MENA
  • Enhancing learning ecosystem in MENA
  • The changing landscape of energy sector in the Gulf region
  • Indigenous management practices in MENA

Details regarding AIB-MENA flagship case study workshop and industry panel, as well as, student research consortium, paper/professional development workshops, keynote speakers, publishing opportunities, social and excursions programs will be announced shortly.

Submission Guidelines:

There will be a link to the AIB MENA submission system from prior to the opening of the submission system. Please make sure that your submission meets the JIBS submission style guide format. All submissions will be subject to a double blind peer review process. Please direct questions to: Dr Victor Huang, Vice President (Program Coordination & Proceedings), Academy of International Business – Middle East North Africa Chapter ( ) and cc


Full paper submission: September 30, 2014
Full paper acceptance: October 30, 2014


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