Entrepreneurship in Oman: policies and practices.
Al-Balushi, Rashid Ali
Anderson, Alistair R.
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AL-BALUSHI, R.A. and ANDERSON, A.R. 2017. Entrepreneurship in Oman: policies and practices. Journal of Asia entrepreneurship and sustainability: special edition of selected articles from the proceedings of the 8th international conference for entrepreneurship, innovation and regional development, 18-19 June 2015, Sheffield, UK, [online], 13(4), pages 29-47. Available from: http://www.asiaentrepreneurshipjournal.com/JAESVolXIIINov2017.pdf
Oman provides an interesting context to examine how formal institutions encourage local enterprise. We examine the views of local entrepreneurs about the effectiveness of government policies that are intended to foster indigenous small business. We ask how they evaluate the entrepreneurial ecosystem. We provide an overview of the remarkable context, the Sultanate of Oman; a thriving oil based economy, but characterised by a high percentage of expatriate business ownership. Moreover, the current industrial and commercial structure looks unlikely to be able to provide sufficient satisfying jobs for the rapidly expanding youthful population. The government has responded by creating modern formal institutions to facilitate enterprise and by providing a number of well funded programs to enable local entrepreneurship. This forms the basis of our research problem, establishing how local entrepreneurs respond to these initiatives to address the low levels of local entrepreneurship. We conducted a face to face interview survey with 60 Omani SME owners asking about how well the initiatives had addressed their cultural and practical 'requirements'. We found that many respondents were motivated by a quest for independence coupled with the need for a 'good' job. However we also found that the sheer joy of entrepreneuring delighted some respondents. The initiatives had provided the means of achieving this self determination. The formal structures were very supportive; initial funding for example was readily available. However, we also found the informal structures were less developed. There was evidence of an emergent cognitive appeal and approval for entrepreneurship. We argue that there is need to develop such informal institutions to help existing businesses to grow and to cultivate an Omani enterprise culture.