The problem of management accountability in the public sector of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) : case study of two public sector organisations

Ali, Juan Salem

June 2001

Thesis or dissertation

© 2001 Juan Salem Ali. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

This study originates from the search of the author, who himself is a main Agent, as per the Principal-Agent Model developed in the study, for proper Management Accountability in his public sector organization. The problem of low level of Management Accountability in the public sector of the UAE has been pervasive in the sector and raised many questions, the cardinal ones being: why has the situation arisen and what might be done to improve it? These are the main questions addressed in this study. The major objective of the study, therefore, is to identify and evaluate the factors that account for the observed low level of Management Accountability in the public sector of the UAE with the aim of finding an appropriate solution to improve the situation.

To achieve this objective, both secondary and primary data/information were used extensively and intensively with a much heavier reliance on primary data because of the highly qualitative nature of the topic and the lack of appropriate secondary data. Apart from the general questionnaire survey of the public sector, two representative public sector organizations - Etisalat and Ministry of Health - were selected for indepth study of the subject-matter. Both quantitative and qualitative data were used; the latter was obtained- largely through questionnaire survey and personal interviews spread over a period of two years using purposively selected samples (purposive sampling method) from the general public and the case study organizations. Various testing techniques, including Z-test, ANOVA, Correlation and Regression analysis, were employed to test for the validity and reliability of findings of the research. We are confident of the validity and reliability of our results but we do also recognize the limitations of the study, for example, the coverage of the study in terms of the number of organizations researched, for the purpose of generalization.

The main findings of the study are summarized as follows:

-- The general public questionnaire survey results confirm that the level of Management Accountability in the public sector of the UAE is lower than the average of similar sectors, for example, in the UK.
-- The general performance of the public sector in terms of achieving objectives is below average.
-- The performance of the case-study, Etisalat, in terms of posted financial statements is encouraging but this is against the background of very weak competition because of the legislative monopolist status the corporation enjoys in the market. However, the level of Management Accountability in the corporation is less than average.
-- Both the general performance in terms of achieving objectives and the level of Management Accountability in the Ministry of Health are below average.
-- The causal factors are grouped into three categories: Social-cultural, Organisational and Personal factors. Each group has sub-factors that have differential effects on the confirmed low level of Management Accountability in the sector.

The main recommendation made was that the Principal-Agent Model developed in the study should be adopted to streamline and formalize the five relationships involved in the model. The pillars of the recommendation are the legalisation, formalisation and control of the relationships in the model to achieve a higher level of Management Accountability in the sector. The implementation of our recommendation would require a change in attitude, perception and other social-cultural as well as organizational factors.

It would require some will-power and commitment to introduce the changes that might lead to the improvements that are projected in the study. Recent developments in the country, such as the call of the Minister for Information and Culture, for constructive criticism of the activities and performance of government organizations indicates a burgeoning recognition of the problem

Business School, The University of Hull
Briston, Richard J.; Chambers, Andrew D.
Sponsor (Organisation)
Abu Dhabi Investment Authority
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