The purpose of this paper is to broaden and deepen the understanding of buyer behavior in Arab industrial markets. Most Western exporters to the Arab world have experienced different kinds of challenges in their encounter with an unfamiliar and exotic culture. One may certainly observe what is going on, but is it possible to understand the underlying factors that explain what most Western businessmen not only would qualify as peculiar, but outright irregular? Is it possible to cast light on the apparently "irrational" behavior of Arab organizations in their dealings with Western sellers? In the wake of September 11 answers to these questions seem to be even more acute, as Arab stereotypes are easily getting entrenched in the inexperienced Westerner’s mind1. This paper endeavors to supplement traditional organizational buyer behavior literature with literature on Arab cultures and management practices and to study industrial buyer behavior in selected Arab countries. The emphasis will be on project deliveries where the differences between buyer behavior in the West and the Arab world are deemed to be most conspicuous.
There are many cultural similarities among Arab countries. However, the differences are also discernible. One dividing line may be drawn between the Maghreb states of Northern Africa (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia) and the Machreq states of the Arab peninsula. In the latter, the pre-islamic Arab cultures seem to have preserved certain attributes that are distinct from the fundamental principles of Islam, whereas in Maghreb states the arabization process was brought about together with islamization. Therefore, the concepts of Arab and Islam are considered more intertwined in North Africa than on the Arab peninsula (Tank 1997). Furthermore, the political systems and international allegiances are widely different - ranging from military autocracies (Syria, Iraq) to what we may term moderate quasi-democracies (Egypt), from islamist rule... [continues]
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