Cultural Attributes

Middle Eastern cultures are considered to be strong and coherent because they are infused with a system of values, beliefs, and ideals that are well understood and adhered to by all members. These values and beliefs are reinforced by rituals and a rich mythology about past events in the history of their culture. The members of such cultures take extreme pride in their heritage and previous accomplishments.

Hofstede’s dimensions of culture are: uncertainty avoidance, power distance, masculinity-femininity, individualism-collectivism, and future orientation.

According to Hofstede’s dimension of individualism versus collectivism, Egypt would idealistically categorize as a collectivist society; in a collectivist society, leaders tend to work in groups, and have a higher ordinal goal that they are working towards.

Furthermore, according to Hofstede’s dimension of masculinity versus femininity, Egyptian society is categorized as a feminine society. A Feminine society is one where quality of life is the sign of success and standing out from the crowd is not admirable. In Feminine countries the focus is on “working in order to live”, managers strive for consensus, people value equality, solidarity and quality in their working lives. Conflicts are resolved by compromise and negotiation. Incentives such as free time and flexibility are favoured. Focus is on well-being, status is not shown. An effective manager is a supportive one, and decision making is achieved through involvement.

Egypt appears to have the lowest score on assertiveness, and has relatively lower scores on uncertainty avoidance, societal collectivism, future orientation, and gender egalitarianism. On the other hand, Egypt has a high score on in-group collectivism, and has relatively high scores on performance orientation, power distance, and humane orientation. In terms of the desires to change the culture, Egyptians are most interested in reducing the power distance and increasing the future orientation aspects of the societal culture.

There is little research done on leadership across cultures in general, especially in the Middle East. Often national boundaries are utilized to approximate societal culture and leadership preconceptions. This is not usually adequate in order to effectively examine the various behaviors of leadership in that part of the world. Cultures do in fact extend beyond national and geographic boundaries. For example, one could find that the northern part of Egypt differs from the southern part. By the same token, one could find that the southern part of Egypt to be very similar to the northern part of Sudan, although Sudan is not in the geographical boundaries Egypt. Nevertheless, the cultures in those regions are so much alike since they are very close to each other, and are affected by one another.

A crucial and vital dimension that Hofstede did not include in his dimensions of culture is religion. In Egypt, religion plays a major role in people’s day to day lives. Thus, it could be assumed that religion guides the behaviors of leaders to a great extent in order to be viewed as honorable leaders by the society. In Egypt, the laws are not based on the Islamic religion; they are extended from French laws, and the French laws are not based on any specific religion. Egyptian laws are based on the French ones due to the French occupancy of Egypt for a long period of time. Egyptian leaders could abide by the laws and not be viewed as honorable leaders since they are not abiding by the Islamic religion.