Academy of International Business (AIB)

Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Chapter

7th Annual Conference

1st Call for Papers

Khalifa University, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Date: 14th – 17th December, 2020

“Exploring Resilience and Agility within International Business in the MENA Region”

The Academy of International Business MENA International Conference builds upon its 2019 conference theme of “Sustaining the Sustainable Agenda” Exploring Critical Multilayered Sustainable International Business Practices in the MENA Region”, by aiming to explore two very important and topical areas of “resilience” and “agility” in a MENA context.

From an international business context, the last two decades have witnessed a phenomenal rise of multinational enterprises from emerging countries (EMNEs). This trend is mainly due to increased globalisation and liberalisation of these emerging countries leading to a more competitive playing field resulting in more inward and outward FDI. Despite the fact that China and India have, over the years, made significant economic and technological progress, various recent economic challenges and political factors have seen Chinese outward FDI decline by 18% over the last two years (UNCTAD, 2019). Whereas emerging countries as a whole have seen a 10% fall in outward FDI, investments from the Middle East have reached their highest level of $49 billion in 2018 (from $39 billion in 2017), which is now equivalent to 40% of current Chinese outward FDI! Leading Middle Eastern countries, such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Turkey have significantly increased FDI in technology, finance and infrastructure industries.

However, the MENA countries have had their own share of challenges. Since the economic crisis in 2008, the subsequent Arab Spring in 2010 and ongoing conflict in various countries, several MENA countries have been trying to transform their economies to become more diversified, competitive and innovative with the view to allow increased internationalization of their EMNEs as well as becoming more attractive to inward foreign investors. With the aim of transforming their countries into competitive, diversified and responsible participants in the global economy, several governments in the MENA region have managed to refocus on economic development. For example, the UAE is hosting the forthcoming Expo 2020, which has brought with it a number of policy measures to spur on economic development and the location attractiveness of the UAE. These efforts have called for government policy initiatives, which encompasses environmental, economic, cultural and social standards, in order to foster sustainable business activities, which can help EMNEs become more resilient and agile.

According to UNCTAD (2019), the overall prospects for inward and outward FDI is positive for several main MENA countries. This is mainly due to the relatively favourable economic conditions as well as efforts to improve the business and investment climate. However, the current trade tensions, ongoing conflict and other uncertainties calls for MNEs to be cautious and invest in their capabilities in order to become more resilient and agile.

While the existing International Business literature has focused predominantly on China and India (Buckley et al. 2007; Luo and Tung 2007; Gaur et al. 2018; Khanna and Palepu. 2004; Aulakh et al. 2016; Contractor et al. 2014; Ciftci 2019), there are far fewer studies on the MENA region, both as a host to and a source of foreign investment (see Budhwar, Pereira, Mellahi and Singh, forthcoming, for a review of the limited research). Our current understanding of the MENA countries is mostly from analysis at the aggregate level, either cross/within country level or industry level. However, better access to primary and secondary data sources are allowing researchers to delve into the many multi-dimensional factors that characterise EMNEs and the MENA countries in their effort to become more resilient and agile. This, therefore, highlights the urgent need to research the many unique and complex characteristics that impact MNEs in the MENA region, as well as trying to uncover the MNE strategies to varied challenges in order to become more resilient and agile.

Resilience and agility are the most sought after tools and strategies at individual, team, and organisational level(s) in the context of a dynamic and complex international business environment, which calls for resilient & agile characteristics (Hartmann, Weiss, Newman & Hoegl, 2019). Organisational leaders and managers who operate in the cross-cultural competitive business environment should possess key personal resources, such as resilience (Shin, Taylor, & Seo, 2012). Furthermore, several recent studies suggest that agile and resilient employees are open to change (Wanberg & Banas, 2000), engage in knowledge co-creation (Acharya, Singh, Pereira, & Singh, 2018), possess high intent to start business i.e. are entrepreneurial (Bullough, Renko, & Myatt, 2014), and adjust well in a host (foreign) country context (Singh, Pereira, Mellahi, & Collings, 2019). However, challenge of firstly, fostering and then motivating, managing and retaining resilient and agile talent remains a key challenge for organisations operating in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and hence calls for a multilevel & multi-country research inquiry.

Understanding how MNEs handle and overcome the unique political, religious, cultural and commercial environments present in the MENA region becomes critical for the global success of MNEs in remaining resilient and agile in the face of uncertainty. Combined with the efforts of EMNEs from the MENA region to increasingly engage in outward investments offers a rich contextual testbed for theorising and analysing the strategic role that the MENA region can play in the global business community.

Therefore, the focus of this conference is to offer new insights into the unique challenges and opportunities that the MENA presents for MNEs. More specifically, it seeks to bring forward insights about resilient and agile international business practices in the MENA region. We welcome conceptual and empirical papers and panel discussions that employ quantitative, qualitative, and/ or mixed-methods approaches to address one of the following or other related themes:

  1. FDI, mode of entry choice, and internationalisation in MENA
  2. HRM in the MENA region
  3. Corporate social responsibility in MENA
  4. International Marketing and creating global brands in MENA
  5. Regional policies, NGOs, and governance in MENA
  6. Government Policy and national competitiveness in MENA
  7. International relations between MENA countries
  8. MENA-Africa relations: past, and present trends
  9. Building Cities of the Future: Sustainability, security, and migration in MENA
  10. International/Islamic Finance and Banking
  11. Cross/intra cultural management in a MENA context
  12. Expatriate and international mobility, and careers in MENA
  13. Knowledge management in the MENA region
  14. International entrepreneurship and family business in the MENA region
  15. Employment, employability, and entrepreneurship in the MENA region
  16. Creating and enabling ecosystems for Born Global/Health/Education in the MENA region
  17. Social Entrepreneurship and Sustainability in MENA
  18. Research methods in international business in the MENA context
  19. Social media in MENA
  20. Enhancing learning ecosystem in MENA
  21. The changing landscape of energy sector in the MENA region
  22. Indigenous management practices in MENA

Main Contact person: 

Dr Vijay Pereira, VP- Academic Program: AIBMENA  & Local Host Institution, email:

Important Dates

Paper & Panel Submission system opens: 15th March 2020

Paper & Panel Submission system closes: 15th August 2020

Paper Decision Notification: By latest September 15, 2020

Registration opens: 1st September, 2020

Early Bird Registration ends: 31st October, 2020


Acharya, A., Singh, S. K., Pereira, V., & Singh, P. 2018). Big data, knowledge co-creation and decision making in fashion industry. International Journal of Information Management, 42, 90-101.

Aulakh, P. S., S. K. Kundu, and S. Lahiri. 2016. Learning and Knowledge Management in and out of Emerging Markets: Introduction to the Special Issue. Journal of World Business 51(5): 655-661.

Buckley, P. J., L. J. Clegg, A. R. Cross, X. Liu, H. Voss, and P.  Zheng. 2007. The Determinants of Chinese Outward Foreign Direct Investment. Journal of International Business Studies 38(4): 499–518.

Budhwar, P., Pereira, V., Mellahi, K., & Singh, S. K. (2018). The state of HRM in the Middle East: Challenges and future research agenda. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 1-29.

Bullough, A., Renko, M., & Myatt, T. (2014). Danger zone entrepreneurs: The importance of resilience and self–efficacy for entrepreneurial intentions. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 38(3), 473-499.

Ciftci, I., E. Tatoglu, G. Wood, M. Demirbag, and S. Zaim. 2019. Corporate Governance and Firm Performance in Emerging Markets: Evidence from Turkey. International Business Review 28(1): 90-103.

Contractor, F. J., S. Lahiri, B. Elango, and S.K.  Kundu. 2014. Institutional, Cultural and Industry Related Determinants of Ownership Choices in Emerging Market FDI Acquisitions. International Business Review 23(5): 931-941.

Gaur, A. S., X. Ma,and S. Ding. 2018. Home Country Supportiveness/ un-favorableness and Outward Foreign Direct Investment from China. Journal of International Business Studies 49(3): 324-345.

Hartmann, S., Weiss, M., Newman, A., & Hoegl, M. (2019). Resilience in the workplace: A multilevel review and synthesis. Applied Psychology. (Online),

Khanna, T., and K.G. Palepu. 2004. Globalization and Convergence in Corporate Governance: Evidence from Infosys and the Indian Software Industry. Journal of International Business Studies 35(6): 484-507.

Luo Y. D., and R. L. Tung. 2007. International Expansion of Emerging Market Enterprises: A Springboard Perspective. Journal of International Business Studies 38(4): 481-498.

Shin, J., Taylor, M. S., & Seo, M. G. (2012). Resources for change: The relationships of organizational inducements and psychological resilience to employees’ attitudes and behaviors toward organizational change. Academy of Management Journal, 55(3), 727-748.

Singh, S. K., Pereira, V. E., Mellahi, K., & Collings, D. G. (2019). Host country national’s characteristics and willingness to help self-initiated expatriates in the UAE. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, (Online),

UNCTAD 2019. World Investment Report. Special Economic Zones. World investment report 2019.

Wanberg, C. R., & Banas, J. T. (2000). Predictors and outcomes of openness to changes in a reorganizing workplace. Journal of Applied Psychology, 85(1), 132-142.