Contextualising diversity management in the Middle East and North Africa: a relational perspective

Human Resource Management Journal


This study examines the clash between diversity policies as designed in the West and the challenges in implementing these in the Middle East and North Africa region. We contribute to the role of context in diversity management by studying how HR managers deal with diversity policies when the Western approach and the local context are perceived as being incompatible. Twenty HR/diversity managers working for multinational companies in nine different countries in the Middle East and North Africa region were interviewed. The findings show that a manager’s understanding of the interrelated nature of multilevel factors of the local context influences the strategies adopted. Three strategies to deal with the perceived clash are identified: forcing a Western approach upon the local country, a reframing strategy where existing policies are reformulated to fit the Western requirements, and a sensitive approach in which the local context is considered. The study suggests that multinational companies have to adapt diversity policies to local multilevel factors of the country in which they operate