Sustaining Emirati family businesses: A Dubai business system case study

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
Emirati family businesses play an important role in Dubai as do family-owned firms in many states and countries. Family businesses’ sustainability contributes to the resilience of their respective economies and therefore it is imperative to understand different contextual influences. This thesis focuses on exploring the external challenges that Emirati family businesses face in Dubai emirate. Business Systems Theory (BST) is applied to an empirical assessment of family businesses’ sustainability in a context that has been analysed in the academic literature less than have a number of other economies globally. Dubai’s Business System has not been subject to in-depth contextualized assessment especially from the perspective of Emirati family businesses. The empirical research for this thesis is purely qualitative and exploratory in nature and the unit of analysis is a city-based case study. The primary method of data collection is interviews of elite individuals working in the Dubai Business System. The sample of interviewees are principals or executives of large Emirati family businesses, government officials, and consultants. The data are coded and analysed using a qualitative, interpretive approach. The main findings are interpreted based on a BST model and the researcher recommends that researchers and practitioners develop more customised taxonomies of sustainable family businesses. This study makes a valuable contribution to understanding the external challenges encountered by Emirati family businesses in the Dubai context. It advances a new academic evaluation of Dubai’s Business System, proposing a general model for characterising contexts and developing taxonomies of family business sustainability. It is argued that this will contribute to academic and practical guidance for family businesses on their governance, sustainability, and investment strategies. It is also envisaged that such contextualized models and taxonomies can support governments in their policy making and initiatives to sustain national family businesses.
Family businesses; Emirati; Dubai; UAE; Sustainability; Business Systems, family businesses, Emirati, sustainability, Dubai, business systems, United Arab Emirates (UAE)