“In the MENA region it was mainly public sector organisations that were early in embracing quality managment”

Interview with Prof. Khaled Sartawi, Chair of the Quality and Business Managment track


What do you think makes Innovation Arabia 8 and the Quality and Business Management track unique?

Innovation and quality are both concerns of all types of organisations, including businesses. Innovation and Quality are also the competitive advantages of our university and are deeply rooted in the history of our institution. The focus of our entire institution is on quality as an important and essential dimension that is integral to the success of all organisations.

What makes the conference relevant to a global audience?

Due to globalisation, and because most of the products and services we use are made outside the MENA region, the impact of quality is worldwide and global in nature. This is why Innovation Arabia 8 focuses on responding to both international and local concerns.

How would you finish this sentence “Looking at this year’s agenda, I believe Innovation Arabia 8 will …”

…make a lasting impact on individuals and businesses in the MENA region.

Your research explores both behavioural science and total quality management. Can you explain how these two topics relate to each other?

Quality management has two major components. One has to do with tools and techniques, while the other deals with the employees and their attitudes and behaviours. If quality initiatives are to be successful, we must identify the primary drivers of employee behaviour in a scientific way and understand how to motivate them to excel and outperform the expectations of the organisation and their customers.

What does it mean to create a culture of quality in a business environment? And which challenges do you see in it?

A culture of quality is where you can see evidence of quality principles such as empowerment, commitment, management by facts, and a learning orientation. The major challenge is to overcome the shift from a traditional culture to quality culture and managing employees’ resistance in the process.

Why is now such an important time to create a business culture of innovation in the MENA region?

The MENA region has been very proactive in applying the different models of quality management and best practices. However, to remain competitive in regional and international markets, we need to look at the other side of the equation. Innovation and quality go hand in hand and are complementary, and it is time to give innovation the same attention we have given to quality.

What are some of the most exciting new developments in quality management worldwide and in the MENA region?

In the new millennium, we have witnessed a shift from quality tools and techniques to quality of people (soft power). In the MENA region, it was mainly public sector organisations that were early in embracing quality management, and governments initiated quality awards and other programs to motivate business organisations to follow suit. This is in contrast to what happened in the West, where businesses were the early adopters of such practices.

What are the opportunities and challenges that you see in HR in the United Arab Emirates?

The diversity of the workforce is the biggest challenge faced by HR in the United Arab Emirates. This, however, also offers a tremendous advantage, as diversity contributes to innovation and the creation of new ideas. To realize its full potential, though, we need to manage HR effectively.

What needs to be done to create an entrepreneurial spirit of innovation and competition?

We need to look at education from the early stages in human life and to identify unknown potential in people.We also need to assure the availability of needed financial resources to transform the idea into a successful product or service. At the macro level, the governments need to promote entrepreneurship through effective policies, regulations, and the efficient allocation of resources.

Is there any other topic or trend you would like to highlight?

This conference is a venue for networking academicians, practitioners, and policy makers because these three groups are the core components required to have a sustained competitive environment. Each of these parts has to play its role, and this conference will make this happen.

For more information on Innovation Arabia 8: www.innovationarabia.ae

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