The power of who you know: an explorative study of wasta and justice perceptions in Saudi universities
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 20:03 by Mohammed Abdulkarim Almutairi
Wasta is an Arabic word that refers to a reliance on personal relationships to achieve particular outcomes, and is problematic and controversial in Saudi Arabia. People form these relationships either directly, or through a waseet – a mediator who goes between the seeker of wasta and its provider. There are a few wasta relationship bases that encourage wasta to occur but do not necessarily result in it. These bases include immediate family, tribal relations, seniority, job status and social standing. Wasta is perceived negatively in the literature, whereas there is ambiguity surrounding every aspect of wasta in practice. This study uses qualitative and interpretative approaches to capture the perceptions of Saudi university faculty members regarding wasta and justice in their universities. Nine semi-structured interviews were carried out. The study found that inaccurate religious perspectives, unclear and insufficient regulations and ineffective management practices are factors that can explain the confusion around the acceptability of wasta and, thereby, its prevalence. Wasta is perceived to be unfair because it interferes with outcomes allocation processes and affects the accuracy and efficiency of management practices.