In response to an insufficiently skilled labor force, Arab countries are looking to Western adult learning perspectives. However, Western practices cannot be implemented without consideration of regional culture. This large-scale study aims to identify best leadership development practices for Arab adult learners and examines how these practices might best fit with local cultural contexts. To determine the effective practices for Arab leaders, the Delphi process was utilized to survey 24 experts in the field of executive education. In addition, eight experts were interviewed and 1,500 business leaders from 17 different countries were surveyed. Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM) was used to examine indices for individual level relationships, as well as country level relationships. Findings suggest several implications for adult learning and leadership development – a key component to the success of the UN 2030 SDG project. First, adult learning practices must be ‘customized’ to address the tension between global and local perspectives. Second, the degree to which learners have experienced Western practices is important to know beforehand. Lastly, it is important to consider the group’s “homogenizing” tendency where their traditional schooling experiences may foster deep resistance to outside, unfamiliar people, ideas, and practices.
Amira Khattab, PhD received her PhD in education, psychology and technology from Michigan State University, US. She advises the private and public sectors on strategy and solutions that foster human capital development (firstname.lastname@example.org).
David Wong, PhD is associate professor in College of Education, Michigan State University, US (dwong@ msu.edu).