Are Christian Arabs' business models different from those of Muslim Arabs?

Ron BERGER*, Bradley R. BARNES, Liane W. Y. LEE, Matti RACHAMIM

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


Purpose: The study aims to test a measurement scale to examine social business networks (Wasta) surrounding Arab Christians and Arab Muslims. Design/methodology/approach: A 31-item scale was used to capture Wasta, consisting of the following: Mojamala (emotional), Hamola (conative) and Somah (cognitive) tri-components. A total of 149 Christian Arab and 304 Muslim Arab respondents were sampled and multi-group structural equation modeling was used to confirm the concept and test several hypotheses. Findings: The findings from the study reveal that in order for success to occur within the Arab context, a sequential process of first developing Mojamala is necessary, before Hamola can prevail. Christian Arabs are motivated to integrate with society and form relationships via generalized trust. Muslim Arabs meanwhile tend to retain their distinct culture, using social networks to forge particularized trust. Shariah principles may also play a significant role in explaining why satisfaction was not found to be a necessary condition for Arab Muslims in driving relationship performance. Research limitations/implications: The study suggests that the 370 million Arab population may not be totally cohesive and should be refrained from being grouped together. In-group identification is a major contributor in explaining why business models are different between Arab Muslims and Arab Christians. The findings further support that Muslim Arab business models are based on tribalism or sheikocracy, whilst Christian Arab business models are based on legalistic frameworks and integration. Practical implications: The study supports prior research associated with Muslim Arab business models based on tribalism or sheikocracy (Ali, 1995). The findings suggest that Arab Muslim business models focus on particularized trust as opposed to generalized trust that is common in Arab Christian business models and in most western countries. The study demonstrates that Mojamala (the emotional construct), Hamola (empathy) and Somah (particularized trust) are useful constructs for building Wasta and they serve a core element for Arab Muslim business models. Mojamala and Somah both directly affect satisfaction. Somah and satisfaction have a direct influence on performance. Originality/value: The findings provide evidence to support institutional theory. Also from a stakeholder theory perspective, viewing companies, not only through an economic lens, but also building social institutions, can lead to a better understanding of business models drawing on diverse cultures and faiths. The study may therefore serve as a useful reference for academics and practitioners as they grapple to enhance satisfaction and leverage performance advantages within this context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)290-312
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Marketing Review
Issue number2
Early online date3 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited.


  • Guanxi
  • Networks
  • Relationships
  • Religion
  • Wasta


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