Jordan FlagCommunity =  Co-Creating Ecosystems | Trans4m Senior Fellows

Adel Al-Rasheed: Driven by Societal Renewal
in Jordan and the Arab Region

“Seeing, and being involved in creating, a more meaningful, humane, safer, balanced, just, cooperative and environmentally healthy world. That is what “integral” means to me. That is what I am standing for!”

 

Adel Al RasheedSocial background and political upheavals in Jordan and the Middle East have significantly molded my life.

I was brought up in a big family, 11 sisters, 4 brothers who were a result of three marriages but 13 of us were from my parents and of whom eight sisters and one brother were younger than me. My father, who came from the village, was a self-made person, an entrepreneur (involved in merchandise, farming and contracting who travelled to the neighboring countries in the Levant) and a landlord by the criteria prevailing in his community in his days, who also made himself literate. My mother, the third wife, who was the only girl in her family among eight brothers, came from a known and educated family\tribe in the city. She was, contrary to her relatives and companions, illiterate because she had to stay at home and help in the household duties. Since the early days I and my sisters and brothers were influenced by my mother style of nurturing who was although illiterate but a strong believer of the importance of education.

Since my teenage I was dreaming to become a professor at the university. I and all of my sisters were top performing students at schools. I was among the top 20 performing students in the Tawjeehy (the last secondary year) in 1971 in Jordan who were invited by late king Hussein to the royal palace to celebrate their remarkable success on the eve of the end of civil war in Jordan in favor of Jordanian army against the Palestinians guerillas. I was awarded a scholarship to study economics and statistics at Jordan University. Upon my graduation in 1975 which was followed a few months later by my father death I was chosen for a scholarship to study an MBA at American University in Beirut, Lebanon, hence I was top performer in my department at the university, to be financed by AAID (American Agency of International Development), which I saw as convenient hence I would be close to my mother, eight sisters and one brother younger than me whom I became emotionally and morally responsible for but not financially. Because of the civil war in Lebanon in 1976 and after I could not stay there at the university more than two months and I had to fly back to Jordan and to go back to my job as a junior researcher at the Central Bank of Jordan. After about a year and because of the continuity of the civil war in Lebanon my scholarship was transferred to Missouri State University in USA via AAID and by changing the subject of study from Business Administration to Economics. Hence my scholarship for the first degree was financed by the Ministry of Education I was supposed to join as a secondary school teacher after my graduation to fulfill the obligation of the scholarship, but I managed, via my father’s connections to the family of the minister of education at that time, to transfer this obligation to Central Bank of Jordan which I saw as a better opportunity to attain my career ambition including the persuasion of my higher studies. Because I was afraid that the Central Bank might not agree to transfer my obligation to Jordan University whom I was supposed to join after the scholarship as a lecturer, I left the job without notice and travelled to the USA. On the night of my travelling I remember that my mother was crying and begging me to stay and not to leave hence I was in charge of the moral responsibility of the family after my father death. But I could not resist the strong eagerness inside me to use the opportunity and fulfil my dream in attaining my higher education and become a professor at the university.

I joined Missouri University in 1977 and after six months, although I was performing very well in the three courses I studied (two A’s and one B), I had to leave for Jordan because I felt very lonely hence I was heartedly and emotionally attached to my family in Jordan. I had to wait for more than eight years until 1985 where I was able to pursue my dream again and to join University of Kent at Canterbury in UK to study for an MA in Management.

During these laps of time period I moved through different jobs: teaching, administrative jobs, and banking which I was settled in for about six years thinking that a managerial job at a prestigious and top international bank like Citibank NA first in its branch in Jordan and then in Saudi Arabia could compensate my ambition of pursuing my higher studies and becoming a professor at the university. But I found out that with all the prestigious career prospects and remarkable financial compensation and other privileges that this thinking was a deception. So I resigned my job as a manager at the high net worth division in the bank in Saudi Arabia and joined University of Kent at Canterbury in 1985 to study for an MA in Management by self financing. I did my master’s degree in Management in one year and then, highly motivated, encouraged by my professors of the MA degree and exceptionally exempted from the upgrading exam/viva required to transfer students from an Mphil status to a PhD status after 15 months of the commencement of their study, I was directly admitted to the PhD degree at the School of Business at the university.

At the age of 26, I was married traditionally (an arranged marriage) although I was thinking because of my family circumstances not to get married before the age of 35. I had three children the oldest a girl who passed away in a sadly accident eight years ago at the age of 24 after obtaining her first degree in Design and after getting the job she liked and was planning to get married and to pursue her higher studies, a boy who has a degree in Architecture and working in an international engineering company and my youngest child a girl who is in her second year at the university and studying Animation and Multimedia. 

Since the beginning I had to stand against what I perceive as unjust or tied to the non sensible traditional norms and obligations, as I stand against my father’s will who refused to agree on the marriage of my oldest sister to one of our qualified relatives from my father side because my father was viewing this relative’s father status as an inferior to his and because of his low accomplishments in comparison with my father’s, although this relative’s father was one of my father’s closest friends, and I enabled my sister to get married from the person she chose, or as when I had to stand against my father’s will who was against sending my two younger sisters to study at Jordan University where I was a student at the time although they obtained scholarships as top performing students at Tawjeehy, because my father’s belief that girls should not join universities and reside outside home during their studies and I enabled them to study, or as I refused not to accept the advice of my uncles from my mother side of whom were physical doctors not to sell land in order to finance one of my sisters’ study of pharmacy in Egypt in the late 1980’s. This orientation of acting against the unconvincing strong traditional or bureaucratic practices became part of me and is continued until now. In many occasions it, coupled with the responsibilities derived from the extraordinary family circumstances, put me under pressure and subjected me to alienation, frustrations, disappointments and depressions.

The topic of my PhD study at the beginning was concerning manpower planning in Jordan. After one year of research, I had to stop this time due to lack of finance. I was financing my study from money I used to generate from selling land. The political uncertainty in Jordan in 1987/1988 led to stagnant land market. I could not liquidate land even at one fifth of its real price. So against all my wishes and foreseeable scenarios I had to interrupt and postpone my studies. I joined Yarmouk University in 1987 first as part time lecturer then as a full time. Due to unconvincing criteria applied in scholarships at the university I had to wait until 1990 when a new president and a new dean for my faculty who taught me at Jordan University were assigned and approved my application for a scholarship which enabled me to go back to University of Kent at Canterbury in order to re start my study for the PhD but after changing the topic to organisational behavior area to meet the conditions of the scholarship. My thesis investigated and compared the organisational practices between Western banks and Jordanian Arab bank related to managers’ motivation and job satisfaction. I included the social and cultural contexts in addition to the organizational dimensions, contrary to my supervisor preference to limit them to the organizational, in interpreting the differences of the practices. I applied quantitative method and qualitative one in the form of in-depth interviews. I finished my thesis in January 1994 and since then am a staff member at the department of business administration at Yarmouk University.

During my extended period of teaching and research at Yarmouk (and being a sole performer struggling in unsympathetic and bureaucratic academic environment) I attempted to emphasise two themes: The  first is widening the scope and understanding of the unidimentional Western/American management field by viewing it from the lenses of the distinct cultural and social Jordanian/Arab contexts. In this regard my research was pioneering in adopting for the first time critical subjects to view the local managerial practices from within including: Culture, Globalisation, Institutionalism, gender, the partnership of public and private sectors, and evaluation of Jordanian management research. The second is widening the scope of students’ consciousness and awareness by adopting a dialogue approach in teaching and interaction and by introducing them to wide and diversified intellectual avenues to enable them seeing the world from multi and deeper perspectives not provided via management texts. Curricula of the courses are designed by including pertinent intellectual readings to achieve this endeavour.

Working intensely with the Integral Worlds approach over the past years, I am currently researching and writing a book on Management Transformation in Jordan and the Arab World.

Adel Al Rasheed - With Ronnie Lessem and Alexander Schieffer at my home near Irbid in Jordan
With Ronnie Lessem and Alexander Schieffer at my home near Irbid in Jordan
Adel Al Rasheed - View from my home towards Syria
Dreaming of peace in the Middle East: View from my home towards Syria