Attitudes Toward Decision-Making Comparing Long-Term Strategy and Short-Term Business Turnarounds: A Mixed Method Study of the Road Transportation Authority (RTA) Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  • Hessa Ahmed Khamis

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The purpose of this study was to examine leaders’ attitudes toward decision-making in two scenarios: 1) long-term strategic decisions (SDM) and 2) short-term business turnaround or crisis (BT) decisions. This study examines whether there are differences in ‘optimising’ vs. ‘satisficing’ styles among leaders of a UAE Government entity. A “snapshot” mixed methods approach using holistic qualitative interviews and a quantitative survey administered online was used. It was found that optimising was evident through analysis, i.e. analysing data and facts for the long-term strategy (SDM) scenario. However, satisficing was not used significantly more in the short-term business turnaround (BT) scenario as was expected. The combined findings suggest that decision-making styles are blurred and not mutually exclusive when it comes to long-term or short-term situations. The study also set out to examine cultural differences from western thinking about the definition of strategic decision-making (SDM) and business turnarounds (BT). Findings revealed that business turnarounds in the Middle East were not perceived to be financially driven per se and not a cause for panic or to create a reduction in core business activities due to its attribution to environmental factors beyond the control of leaders. Strong support for leadership during a crisis scenario was evidence of cultural influences mimicking Asian turnaround philosophies but an emphasis on individual competencies and speed in implementing decisions resembled westernised thinking. This organisation represented a unique Middle Eastern context of a government entity that does not have profit for motive in the country of the UAE with its multicultural dynamism and emerging national identity. Research implications include paving the way for a robust decision-making model for UAE government entities for the future, data that supports organisational culture change efforts and questions regarding the true role of the RTA. Limitations include the small sample size with less generalizability to entities spanning other governmental services and the researcher’s practitioner-researcher orientation that lent bias to the interpretation of the results, but was construed as a strength as well. Contributions to theory include the challenge to the maximising-satisficing scale where optimising and satisficing decision-making styles are thought to be mutually exclusive. Future research focuses on the expansion to other government entities using the researcher’s new proposed maximising-satisficing continuum as a result of this study, and also expanding it to private enterprises in the UAE to get a fuller picture of decision-making in the UAE / Middle East context.
Date of Award2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorSophie Bennett-Gillison (Supervisor)

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