International Journal of


EISSN: 2313-3724, Print ISSN: 2313-626X

Frequency: 12

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 Volume 8, Issue 12 (December 2021), Pages: 14-24


 Original Research Paper

 Title: Challenges facing Saudi public sector leaders during change

 Author(s): Hamood Alenezi 1, *, Malcolm Higgs 2, Nicholas Snowden 2


 1Department of Business Administration, Northern Border University, Ar’ar, Saudi Arabia
 2Faculty of Business, Law and Politics, University of Hull, Hull, UK

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 * Corresponding Author. 

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Organization change management has a poor success record and confronts leaders with many challenges, including employee resistance. The Saudi public sector is undergoing widespread changes under the government’s reform agenda, Vision 2030. However, there is little research on organizational change in the Arab world; what exists locks depth and pays little attention to leaders’ roles. This paper explores the challenges facing Saudi public sector leaders and the response strategies adopted in two public sector organizations undergoing a recent change. Qualitative data were collected by unstructured interviews with six department leaders and 21 subordinates involved in change implementation. Challenges faced included the hierarchical organizational and sectoral structure, bureaucracy, high power distance, constraints on leaders’ autonomy, the gender-sensitive national culture, and employee resistance. Leaders employed a variety of strategies to cope with and mitigate these challenges, to achieve change success, notably, improving communication to explain the change, provide clarity and alleviate concerns. Leaders also become less authoritarian and more employee-focused, applying flexibility, providing opportunities for employee participation, and using various motivational strategies to gain employee commitment and improve productivity limitations of the study are the small convergence sample reflecting one project in one sector and the inability to follow change progress over time. The insight afforded by rich qualitative data on experienced challenges and leader behavior enables implications to be drawn for motivational strategies and communication with other public sector organizations involved in change projects. 

 © 2021 The Authors. Published by IASE.

 This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (

 Keywords: Change management, Change resistance, Organization culture, Public sector

 Article History: Received 8 October 2020, Received in revised form 10 March 2021, Accepted 23 September 2021


No Acknowledgment.

 Compliance with ethical standards

 Conflict of interest: The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.


 Alenezi H, Higgs M, and Snowden N (2021). Challenges facing Saudi public sector leaders during change. International Journal of Advanced and Applied Sciences, 8(12): 14-24

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