Organizational Performance Improvement: The Link Between Appreciative Inquiry and Arab Culture

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Oil and Gas Production Content Series

Purpose: This paper examines Appreciative Inquiry (AI) as an organizational development approach that aligns with Arab cultural factors to address the issue of employee morale in an Arab-led organization.

Design/Methodology/Approach: A brief literature review establishes AI’s foundational theories and links with Arab cultural factors. An overview of the AI 4D model is then followed by critiques of the AI approach. The article concludes with a review of an AI application to address the issue of low employee morale in a large oil refinery followed by a brief summary.


Findings: A literature review of AI and Arab cultural factors and initial findings of an AI application in a Middle Eastern Arab-led organization indicates an increase in employee satisfaction and initially confirms a complementary link of the AI approach to Arab cultural factors.

Research Limitations/Implications: Critiques of AI center on appropriateness, repression of negative images, and unexpressed resentment. Despite critiques, a lack of dialogic discourse, and support from scientific research for this relatively new approach, AI presents a promising alternative to traditional problem solving and its inherent, often negative effects.

Practical Implications: The sharing of stories as part of the AI approach served to bond employees to each other and served to instill a shared sense of ownership for the past and future success of the organization. The use of AI builds on the cultural attributes of Arab culture including high collectivism, strong family and relationship orientation, high context and narrative communication, low risk tolerance, prevalence of positive intentions, and homogeneity of the Islamic society. Direct benefits of the AI approach include an increased number of workplace improvement suggestions and higher levels of job satisfaction.

Originality/Value: This paper provides insight and support for using AI as an organizational development approach that complements existing Arab cultural factors for practicality and benefit.


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