When Anti-Corruption Initiatives Meet the Culture of Wasta: The Case of Public Sector Reforms in Jordan

Title: When Anti-Corruption Initiatives Meet the Culture of Wasta: The Case of Public Sector Reforms in Jordan
Authors: Al-Saleh, Mohammed
Date: 2016
Abstract: Jordan has strived to manage a large-scale anti-corruption initiative for the public sector since 2006. Despite the implementation of laws and bodies mandated to address corruption, public trust of government remains low and the country’s position on international corruption rankings has not improved. This study seeks to investigate how the implementation of a large-scale anti-corruption initiative impacts the organizational culture of the country’s public sector. It proposes that wasta, a unique Arab phenomenon that promotes the values of loyalty, represents the most significant barrier to penetrating what is essentially a normalized culture of corruption in the Government of Jordan. The organizational culture theory model was adopted as the theoretical framework because of its ability to account for differences in culture where promoted values do not necessarily correspond with employee actions. Because literature in this area is rare, a qualitative exploratory methodology was chosen. Based on data saturation, a total of 19 semi-structured interviews were conducted on-site in Jordan with mid-level managers identified using snowball sampling. The results prove the theoretical proposal to be accurate and show that wasta has evolved to the deepest level of organizational culture. The results are sub-divided into two major themes: culture and leadership. The results show that wasta is a deeply held and engrained part of organizational culture and that it is difficult for anti-corruption efforts to change this culture in the Jordanian public sector. The thesis also demonstrate how leadership can be both something negative or something positive in the fight against wasta depending on how it is used.. The findings carry implications for public administration, foreign policy, and society as a whole especially with regard to the development of more effective anti-corruption strategies in Jordan and abroad. The specific contribution to knowledge of this thesis is the examination of how organizational cultural reforms impact public-sector organizations in the Middle Eastern context given the influence of wasta, which is not discussed in the literature but remains important for the field. Future research should consider the views of a wider variety of stakeholders, as well as the impact of wasta on organizational characteristics including performance and delivery of public services.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/34318
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -