Aim, objectives and feasibility of the dissertation
The United Arab Emirates are making a considerable progress in creating unprecedented opportunities for its citizens to enable them compete in the global labour market. Emiratisation is a national programme launched by the UAE government at the beginning of the millennium to assist nationals in their attempts to meet job requirements of both public and private organisations (Bealer and Bhanugopan, 2014).
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Namely, the government sponsors various business, development, and research initiatives, provides grants, and creates favourable conditions for its nationals to take leadership roles and compete with expats. This initiative has been implemented for more than a decade; however, it is still not successful, especially in the private sector: the UAE citizens represent no more than 0.3% of the workforce despite the fact that the programme is aimed to provide better leadership education and development opportunities to them.
The problem that Emiratisation has not yet achieved its goals is now among the most pressing ones in the country. Despite the fact that the majority of UAE job applicants are well-educated, their preparation is insufficient to compete with expats (Hanna and Latchem, 2013).
Unfortunately, the majority of educational institutions in the UAE are still unable to provide leadership education that would allow future graduates to meet the requirements posed by the world of work (Bealer and Bhanugopan, 2014). There are numerous reasons for this, including that most educational institutions in the west have already transferred from outdated models to innovative leadership, which makes their professionals more advanced (Bealer and Bhanugopan, 2014). However, the major reason seems to be that the majority of UAE students do not recognise the importance of leadership and therefore do not value the opportunities they have. The major aim of the research at hand is to find out why.
Although there are those, who are sure that the new targets of Emiratisation (including advanced leadership, human resource development, and nationalisation of business practices) are met, yet, there is also a widespread opinion on the level of maturity of national leadership capacity as there are currently no educational programmes that would satisfy leadership requirement posed by the new age.
There are numerous educational challenges to overcome to unleash the leadership potential and re-balance the labour force (Hanna and Latchem, 2013). In one hand, it is hard for nationals to compete with expats, and on the other hand, the government cannot resolve this problem by artificially integrating them into businesses. Emiratisation is a complex process that cannot be reduced to the idea of making space for intentionally created positions designed for country nationals. They need to be ready to take them (Prabhakar and Yaseen, 2016).
Thus, there is a growing need to focus on the role of leadership in this effort that may assist nationals in moving onwards and upwards into positions with due confidence and realisation of their positive contribution. Currently, there is no clear picture of what great leadership must look like against the country’s cultural background since it would be impossible to replicate the Western approach without assimilating it within the original context.
Neither is it efficient to continue sticking to old-dated, trait- and behavior-based models, presenting leaders as unique personalities with inborn propensity to be leaders. Due to unclear fact on the idea, structure, and components of leadership for students and that’s why, they do not seem to be willing to take leadership positions. That is the main factor motivating the research at hand.
The topic may arouse the interest of all organisations since its investigation will allow devising development strategies and programmes based on roles and leadership models that would be mostly appealing to the nationals and motivate them to compete with expats.
Gaining the insight of effective leadership may help launch a comprehensive campaign that will cover all educational institutions across the country. This will raise the prestige of national newcomers against professional expats, thereby positively affecting the image of the UAE. Furthermore, strong leaders, who will manage to combine an understanding of their own culture with global strategies, will be able to carry other employees to their progressive vision through inspiration and collaboration.
As far as the academic foundation is concerned, a substantial bulk of materials has been analysed to find evidence to the proposed transformation strategies and to explore the issue from different perspectives. The angle from which the problem will be viewed is innovative, authentic leadership of the 21st century. During the management studies, different approaches on Human Resources and Leadership were investigated. It has been realised that globalisations, fast-pasted business environment, technological progress and a number of other factors gave modern leaders new responsibility, reshaping them to become more flexible, cooperative, and creative.
The research will prove that the UAE cannot benefit from its traditional understanding of leadership, according to which leaders are perceived as outstanding people that have innate qualities or using particular patterns of conduct determining their success. It is high time we saw them as team builders, motivators, and change drivers, who cooperate with other employees as with partners not subordinates. However, it will also be explained why it is impossible for the country to duplicate the Western models without absorbing it. The major focus, however, will be on the perception of students, who are not unaware of leadership opportunities they have.
All researchers of the topic, regardless of their view of Emiratisation, agree that leadership is the key factor making the difference between stagnation and socio-economic development. It’s the leader who reinforces collaboration, promotes creativity, renders support, ensures the staff’s positive state of mind, and gives motivation to employees (Prabhakar and Yaseen, 2016). Leaders in the UAE must be provided with an advanced leadership framework that would allow promoting national branding especially in a market that suffers from national stereotypes, represented in poor work ethics.
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For this purpose, it is required to investigate why students do not attend leadership workshops (Hanna and Latchem, 2013). This will help understand and adapt leadership skills through hands-on experiential learning rather than traditional classroom interactions. The key research question will, then, run as follows: Is there a relation between leadership education (independent variable) and UAE nationals’ leadership development (dependent variable)?
Other questions to be answered in the course of the study include:
- What is the definition of leadership in the eye of UAE nationals?
- Are the nationals ready to undertake leadership roles?
- What are the leadership skills/competencies required to compete with the demands of the dynamic labour market of UAE?
- To what extent the government is in realisation of national leadership development?
- Which kind of challenges, nationals face in relation to leadership development?
- What kind of training support/guidance is available for UAE nationals?
The specific objectives that will have to be met to achieve the aim of the research are:
- To determine why students do not attend leadership development;
- To understand whether they consider leadership development to be significant for building their career;
- To determine what leadership skills are required and how they should be developed and look.
The research is feasible on students majoring Business Administration in their final year at Zayed University. The initial approval is granted from the research center and the ethical consideration is submitted for approval to run an online survey following a small size random distribution on the segmented participants. Although there are certain problems expected to schedule a session for a group focus, yet it can be mitigated by planning this session in advance with the concerned department specifically Business major. Consent has been given by the University for this project to be undertaken over the upcoming nine months, and so the project can be launched immediately.
In order to understand what leadership needs, have to be satisfied in the UAE, it is necessary to explore the background of the issue, including culture-specific problems that may arise with the introduction of new practices.
According to Alhebsi, Pettaway, and Waller (2015), the UAE perceives education as the major driving force of human development. It is believed that it should go beyond educational institutions and curricula contents and cover multifaceted concerns. In the long run, educational development is supposed to foster the development of a strong, diverse economy that would allow the country to compete at the global level. This implies that leadership becomes a matter of overriding weight, to which attention and resources must be directed. Following the examples of the United States, Sweden, Canada, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Singapore, and a number of other countries, UAE has begun to make efforts to improve the capacity of leadership and performance standards (Moorosi, 2014).
In one hand, the transformation process turns out to be more complex than it may seem since change agents are confronted with a number of external and internal challenges, which are aggravated by current negative leadership behaviour patterns. The problem is that leaders in the UAE are currently chosen not owing to their real leadership talents but rather due to their personal connections and the ability to maintain strict hierarchy in the organisation based on their authority. The majorty of students do not want to attend voluntary development since the pressure on the leader is too high and the support from the team is too insignificant as employees in the UAE are used to strict obedience (Hanna and Latchem, 2013).
On the other hand, in order to overcome them, the concept of authentic leadership has been developed to promote behaviour guided by the principles of self-awareness, internalised morality, transparency, and balanced processing (Hanna and Latchem, 2013). Such leaders are supposed to create a favorable climate for their team, encouraging new ideas and creativity. Also, they demonstrate strong self-regulation skills, the ability to perform objective assessment, and quick and effective decision-making. This is what the leadership system of the UAE is now looking for in the private sector (Al Sahi Al Zaabi, Ahmad and Hossan, 2016). Still, for understanding what changes are required to achieve authentic leadership, it is crucial to probe what understanding of leadership that nationals in the UAE currently share.
Several models of leadership are generally taught at the UAE universities (Zayed University, Higher Colleges of Technology and UAE University). Despite the fact that these are considered to be outdated and no longer competitive by researchers of the dyadic leadership theories (Yukl, 2013), there are still some characteristics that the new approach can borrow from them. The major problem is that traditional models look upon leaders from a trait perspective, which means that strong leaders are believed to own some unique personal qualities that make them different (including even their physical appearance).
According to Hanna and Latchem (2013), there are still remnants of the trait approach in modern theories since leaders continue to rely on their openness, courage, charisma, and personal attractiveness. This implies that although it is no longer believed that leaders must possess a determined set of features, it is still quite evident that the talent for it cannot be taught. As a result, even the best leadership education does not give equal outcomes for all students as their personal qualities still matter a lot.
Other scholars debate that Contingency theory is also applicable to the UAE leadership maturity, since the model was once so influential that simply could not become obsolete (Prabhakar and Yaseen, 2016). Country nationals realise that certain patterns of professional conduct allow leaders to achieve organisational goals. This is still the central idea of the authentic leadership today despite the fact that these patterns have to be changed to reflect the realities of the 21st century.
Another model promoted is the contingency theory, that sets employee motivation and task orientation as the primary goals of leaders. The model states that task and relationship orientation should depend on the situation, which implies flexibility as a trait of future leaders (Hanna and Latchem, 2013).
Finally, it can be found in some studies that the transformational theory is the closest one to the new vision upheld in the business today. This framework stresses the implication of change and the capability of the leader to ensure continuous improvement and innovation over transforming the working experience (Bealer and Bhanugopan, 2014) that is not covered by leadership development workshops in UAE (Prabhakar and Yaseen, 2016).
Although the research is not meant to contrast any of the selected works, its focus will be shifted from the analysis of the leadership development to consider the new dyadic theories within their programmess.
The major question that has to be answered is do all leadership theories not have some merit? The leadership courses within UAE concentrate on the traditional consideration of leadership rather than the dyadic theories which industry and students alike could benefit from its inclusion and could be a reason why development is not sought? (Add evidence)
Generally, the current theories do not enable new leadership to shape and that would meet business requirements posed by the local market (Tahir and Naeem, 2017). At the same time, culture matters and the western theories may not deliver what is now required in UAE.
The majority of researchers claim that the key foundation of any leadership is culture revealed both in the structural and national aspects. The selected framework allows leaders to act as not only producers but also demonstrators, who show what kind of behaviour is accepted or not. At the same time, the culture determines the way leaders perform and establish relations with inferiors (Qubaisi et al., 2015). Hence, it turns out that culture simultaneously encourages and restricts the creation of norms and values, integrating the component of any leadership to ensure momentum to the next level.
Does the culture impact on how leaders lead and followers prefer to follow? This could be a reason why students do not attend leadership workshops.
This implies that defining the culture of the UAE means also identifying what leadership models will be able to fully satisfy its needs and finding out flaws of the existing ones. Regarding the Western practical leadership, the unique specifics of this culture is its restriction by legal, political, and traditional norms (Cherian and Farouq, 2013). This is one of the reasons of the high power distance, which means that leaders are still perceived by subordinates as people who stand out due to their personal features (trait theory) or conduct (behavioural theory).
In other words, despite the significant transformations of the society, the UAE has not fully transferred from the indigent traditional society, having plenty of economic, social, geographic, and political limitations, to a highly modernised nation (Tahir and Naeem, 2017). Economic changes are happening rapidly due to deterioration of oil incomes; alternatively, the country is left with no option but to generate revenue through VAT system, and to invest on its people to sustain competitiveness (Gurrib, 2017).
But, mentality, cultural identity, and lifestyle do not change that fast. As a result of a high power distance and the unique position and perception of leaders by nationals, they still cannot be called authentic nor transformers. Therefor student might devalue such concepts and as a result prefer not to attend leadership workshops.
Charismatic Leadership counts. It can be partially explained by historical reasons since the leaders of the UAE, and the Middle East mostly relied not on cooperation with people but on charismatic leadership–the ability to communicate in two ways that make it possible to affect followers emotionally, motivate their actions and call them for action. This kind of leadership is not about the ability to build teams and shorten the power distance.
On the contrary, despite the seeming proximity of leaders to people, their sole personality made people perceive them as the unearthly individuals that are endowed with a mission. Leaders managed to inspire complete faith in well-being and security of the nation as long as they guide their people. That is the major reason Middle East nations cannot eliminate the prejudice that leadership is scarcity, one-in-a-million occurrence; you cannot teach a person to be a good leader since he/she must be born with it.
At the same time, these leaders like revealing how close they are to average citizens. For instance, Azim Premju of India often uses public transportation to be amid common people while Mahatma Gandhi, often dwelled in ashrams to show how close he is to the poor and the needy. Yet, one should not be mistaken by the nature of this closeness. It always involves pathos to have long-reaching political and historical consequences.
All countries of the Middle East can boast of their heroic, outstanding founding fathers, who acted as friends to the whole nation. In comparison, in the UAE, it was H.E. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and the present-day ruler of Dubai H.H.Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, who demonstrated their unique skills of uniting Arab identity with the requirements posed by globalisation (Al Sahi Al Zaabi, Ahmad and Hossan, 2016).
Although such leaders achieve incomparably high level of recognition by public, their charisma and emotional expressiveness make their followers suffer from expressive inhibition since they feel awestruck with the effect produced by the leader’s personality (Menges et al., 2015). This makes it legitimate to state that the transformational model of leadership is intricately intertwined with trait and behaviour frameworks, which makes Arab and other Middle East cases unprecedented. Despite the fact that their influence is unquestionable, coping their patterns of conduct is a risk and hardly a successful strategy for meeting the standards posed by globalisation.
Thus, it is highly vital to understand the underpinning gaps in leadership that often appear not as a result of flaws found in the curriculum but due to a totally different understanding of a role and position of a leader in the country. The UAE is not a big state, which is still in the process of transitioning from the tradition-oriented society to a highly modern one, which makes it inevitable to instill the national identity, while answering global market needs, encourage multiculturalism while preserving the national culture, and promote the rights of women while sticking to the traditional understanding of leadership (Samier, 2015).
At the same time, it is highly important to understand why students do not attend leadership workshops and what prevents them from striving for high positions in the future. The lack of motivation cannot be explained by their inability to occupy important posts. It seems more likely that the students have certain fears of being unable to meet the global standards that seem to high for them. Adhering to the view that this mixture of requirement posed by the new age makes it particularly complicated for students to be attracted to the leadership workshops as the needs they have to satisfy are often contradictory. It is still far from the same task to prepare successful leaders (since the national understanding of leadership is still not formed) and those who are going to compete in the international arena.
Research methodology and methods
The study to be undertaken is structured on the epistemology of the interpretivism/social constructivism perspective since personal opinions and perspectives will be obtained with regards to leadership development (citation required). This approach was selected since it allows investigating how leadership can be developed when nationals are aware of their future leadership opportunities. As a result of this choice, the research design will be a case study (since the research will involve students of only one university).
A qualitative approach has been chosen for the study to collect as much of answers from straight-forward questions using a smaller-size sample and focus groups to enable greater understanding as to the how and why they do not appear to value leadership development and / or why they do not attend current development and what they believe it should include and how it should be delivered in order to encourage attendance.
For validity and reliability, I am aiming to extend the fundamental beliefs on national leadership development from primary data, through interviews, e.g., online questionnaire and focus groups. This way I will get a deeper insight into the phenomenon and make it clear for myself whether the unwillingness of the students to undertake leadership workshops is explained by their unawareness of the opportunities they have or by the perception of being outdated leaders.
The data collection methods will include direct interaction with the participants of the study through online survey and focus groups, so that data collected arrive at the ultimate conclusion.
|Data collection method: |
Online Survey. The method was selected due to the fact that it will allow the research to cover a large group of students since anonymous participation is typically more active (as compared to students’ willingness to take part in personal interviews). Moreover, the students will have time to reflect upon the questions and come up with their own lists of problems and obstacles that hinder their motivation to attend leadership seminars and to take leadership positions in the future.
|Approximate total population size: |
The approximate size will vary from 300 to 1000 students, depending on their willingness to take part in the survey. Their answers will be processed by the computer to come out with some repetitive patterns.
|Sample size: |
The sample size for the personal interview will be approximately 15-20 students since it is unlikely that there will be more unique patterns in the questionnaire results. This number of interviews will be enough to find out the main concerns.
|Focus groups – students||Number of students in their final year of study at the university / number of students within each university school in their final year you could approaching |
The number is still unclear since it will depend on the size of groups.
|Actual size |
The actual size will be determined at the beginning of the experiment.
Since the research question requires establishing the connection between leadership development and student’s behavior and response. It is necessary to distribute an online survey on a wider number of student and then to delve further into the how, what, why in an interview or focus group. It will assess the situation both on the subconscious and conscious level of students’ perception. I need to obtain data on the level of their understanding about leadership as compared to practical experience. As a result, recommendations will be provided without dilution.
|1||Stage 1: Area of interest identified||16/09/17|
|2||Stage 2: Specific topic selected||16/09/17|
|3||Stage 3: Topic refined to develop dissertation proposal||01/10/17||Getting DA’s feedback|
|Stage 4: Proposal written and submitted||08/10/17|
|5||Stage 5: Collection of data and information||31/12/17|
|6||Stage 6: Analysis and interpretation of collected data/information||31/01/18||Review by month 5|
|7||Stage 7: Writing up||10/03/18||Review by month 7|
|8||Stage 8: Final draft prepared— submission of dissertation||31/03/18|
|9||Final Deadline—9 months from module start date.||23/05/18|
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