March 06, 2007
I just had an amusing, even hilarious for me, lunch with my attorney who was ranting on about how his local clients have to be brow-beaten (and we're talking corporates, name brand even) into conveying timely information, to him, their attorney, for work they've demanded.
I actually have the exact same experience. It's amazing, really, what it takes to get the simplest fucking things done in this region. Efficiency. What's most irritating and yet in some ways puzzling (in others not when you think about internal organisational structures and incentives) is the foot dragging raises their costs as much as mine (or the attorney's). Of course the constant whinging on about costs etc when they sit down with a bill makes this even more infuriating.
But there are clear organisation incentives to non-performance in the typical MENA company, nothing shocking that doesn't exist in the West of course - see Dilbert. But as always, these things are a question of degree, and indeed the weakness of countervailing incentives.
In some ways it's a good way to look at the failures of Iraq, since the American decision makers innocently assumed the exact same incentive structures, decisional processes and worst yet, reactivity. And being arrogantly blinded to the sometimes (indeed often) subtle differences - any one of which may be individually trivial, but cumulatively is fatal - were unable to react, to adjust and change at once tactics and conceptual strategy in ways that actually responded to the real incentive structures.
I've noted in places like our fool Andrew Sullivan (and even more egregiously chez the Moustache of Understanding) comments tending to indicate that Arabs (or Muslims, en grosso modo) don't value / want / desire Liberty, etc. etc. That's bollocks - but the operational incentives for making changes to achieve those things require different approaches, and realisation that the near term incentive structure is weighted towards avoidance of decisions etc. - nails get pounded down - unless one has a means to control - as in guns.
Posted by The Lounsbury at March 6, 2007 01:53 PM
Filed Under: Biz - Private in MENA , Economics , MENA Region General , Politics - EU FP , Politics - Foreign Policy , Politics - Local , Politics - US FP , Society & Culture
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re "In some ways it's a good way to look at the failures of Iraq...":
I would say that this is part of the general tendency on the American Right to divide people into:
1) Those from Orange County CA
2) Those who think and act like people from Orange County, CA, given the opportunity (aside from some surface differences)
3) Those people who bizarrely, irrationally and foolishly do not act like Orange County citizens even when given the opportunity to do so, are therefore pathological and thus damn themselves irredemably.
I'm sure the people you are dealing with and who are driving you crazy are not any more stupid that anyone else, and are operating in a manner that is not less economically rational than anyone else's, given their starting assumptions, which themselves make at least some sort of sense in local conditions. But I am well-infected with evil self-hating cultural relativism...
Posted by: Antiquated Tory at March 9, 2007 04:40 PM