I recently read an article on wasta and “corruption” in international business that got me thinking about some of the problems of framing complex cultural ideas in overly simplified ways.
In my Intercultural Relations class, I offer a detailed case study of a businessman (whom I will call Girgis since that’s what I call him in another context in Chapter Six of Connected In Cairo).
Girgis worked for a company that insisted as part of their global corporate culture that there be no “corruption.” Six years after opening its office in Egypt, they continued to be plagued by behaviors they understood to be “corrupt.”
A particular problem seemed to be nepotism. Every time an Egyptian manager was hired, he began filling new slots in the company with relatives, and the children of friends. This was contrary to corporate policy and so these managers had to be rotated out or fired.
The company thought it had found a solution in Girgis.
Born in Egypt, Girgis had come to the U.S. for college, married an American woman and stayed to complete an MBA, then joined the company. He had risen through the ranks with stellar performance evaluations, and was currently a branch manager in New York state. Fluent in Arabic as well as English, cosmopolitan and equally at home in the US and the Middle East, the company thought he would be the solution to their problem.
Yet within his first year, the regional supervisor discovered that Girgis had appointed a cousin with little prior experience to an important management position without doing a open search. When confronted, Girgis told his supervisor, “In the U.S., this would be corruption. Here, it’s wasta.” When they pressed him further, Girgis became evasive and asked if they wanted his resignation.
The Bibliography resource on the Egyptian uprisings has been updated.
The bibliography now includes over 675 references.
Updates include articles from such journals as Pragmatics, Feminist Studies, Feminist Media Studies, Third World Quarterly, Media, Culture and Society, Journal of Communication Inquiry, and many others.
It also now includes books like Farhad Khosrokhavar’s The New Arab Revolutions That Shook the World, Al-Zubaidi and Cassel’s Diaries of an Unfinished Revolution, Are Knudsen and Basem Ezbidi’s Popular Protest in the New Middle East, Paul Gerbaudo’s Tweets and the Streets, and Manuel Castell’s Networks of Outrage and Hope.
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful.
Proud and honorable people of Egypt, today I stand before you in my military uniform for the last time. I have decided to end my service as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and the Minister of Defense and Military Production.
I have spent my entire career as a soldier of this homeland serving its hopes and aspirations, and I shall continue in this course.
This is a very significant moment for me. The first time I wore military uniform was in 1970 as 15-year-old cadet at the Air Force High School, almost 45 years ago. And I take pride in wearing this uniform to defend my country. Today I am taking off this uniform to defend this homeland as well.
These recent years of our nation’s history have shown conclusively that nobody can become president of this country against the will of the people or without their full support. No one can force Egyptians to vote for a president they do not want. This is a fact.
Therefore, I humbly come before you to announce my intention to run for president of the Arab Republic of Egypt. Only your support will grant me this great honor.
Al Jazeera has much less social capital than it used to, since Qatar began using its money to promote political causes in the Middle East and the station has come to be seen as a shill for those causes.
Still, its coverage of the Egyptian crisis was extraordinary and courageous by any measure, and may have played a significant role in the success of the revolution.
A new article by Diane Bossio in the journal Media Asia suggests that part of Al-Jazeera’s formula for success during the protests was its incorporation into its coverage of material produced by people in the Square and elsewhere.
“Citizen Journalism” can mean a range of things from independent journalists whose work is funded by the readers of their material to web sites that publish widespread rumors and many other things. The most common usage seems to involve professional journalists–which essentially means journalists working for media corporations or state media–incorporating the work of non-professional citizens into their broadcasting.