Nepotism Practices in the United States and Saudi Arabia: A literature Review

  • Wala Almostadi King AbdulAziz University Saudi Arabia
Keywords: Nepotism


Nepotism is a cultural concept that has permeated all societies in history. However, some cultures are more tolerant toward nepotism because care of the family is considered a moral obligation. For example, the United States and Saudi Arabia possess different cultural viewpoints about nepotism. While in the United States, organizations and policy makers are still trying to make sense of how to manage nepotism, in Saudi Arabia it is a common practice part of the culture and lifestyle. However, dealing with the eradication of nepotism in the United States continues to be a challenge because of the existence of considerable number of family businesses; in these, nepotism is often seen as an important factor for the survival of the business. In the meantime, both the United States and Saudi Arabia continue to demonstrate nepotistic practices. This paper has the purpose of presenting causes and consequences of nepotism, theoretical background and definition of the term, and a brief story of modern nepotism, from the medieval times to the twentieth century in Europe and the United States. This paper also presents a comparison of nepotistic practices in the United States and Saudi Arabia and critical views against and in favor of nepotism as social practice.


Bellow, A. (2003). A Praise of Nepotism: A Natural History. New York, NY: Doubleday.
Boyer, P. (1978). Urban Masses and Moral Order in America: 1820-1920. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Briggs, V. N. (1995). Thirty years of immigration policy and research. Cornell University Digital Commons, 4, 1-10.
Briggs, V. N. (1996). Ethics trumping economics? The ethics of immigration control. Cornell University Digital Commons, 4, 1-10.
Casey, C. (n.d.) Community-Based Organizations as a Critical Connection in Linking Social Capital: The Case of Low wealth Entrepreneurship [In press]. University of Texas at Arlington, 1-32.
Brookhiser, R. (1999, July 20). America’s political dynasties will live on. The Asian Wall Street Journal, 8, 1-6.
Ciulla, J. B. (2005). In praise of nepotism? Business Ethics Quarterly, 15(1), 153-160.
Dewald, J. (Ed.) (2004). Nepotism. Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World, 4, 270-271.
Ellen, R. (2000). The family HVAC: ‘Heir-raising’ tales of nepotism. Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration News, 209(7), 9-10.
El Said, H. (2013). Wasta. Retrieved from
Flint, A. (2009). Wrestling with Moses: How Jane Jacobs took on New York’s Master Builder and Transformed the American City. New York, NY: Random House.
Ford, R., & McLaughlin, F. (1986). Nepotism: Boon or bane. PersonnelAdministrator, 31, 11, 78-89.
Gillan, A. (2001, July 4). Bush trims Gulf drilling to save his brother: President is accused of nepotism as he launches oil exploration off Florida coast. The Guardian, 1-12.
Grendles, P. F. (Ed.) (2004). House of Borgia. Renaissance: An Encyclopedia for Students, 1, 99-101.
Harris, M. M., Lievens, F., & Van Hoye, G. (2004). I think they discriminated against me: Using prototype theory and organizational justice theory for understanding perceived discrimination in selection and promotion situations. International Journal of Selection andAssessment, 12, 54-65.
Headliners: Spinning the revolving door (1989, July 2). New York Times, A-7.
Hutchins, K., & Weir, D. (2005). Guanxi and Wasta: A comparison. Thunderbird School of Global Management. DOI: 10.1002/tie.20090
Kramer, S. D. (1998, August, 14). All in the TV family, a look at the people behind some of television’s best-known shows proves a little nepotism goes a long way. Chicago Tribune, 1.
Kravitz, D. A., Harrison, D. A., Turner, M. E., Levine, E. L., Chaves, W., Brannick, M. T….Conard, M. A. (1997). Affirmative action: A review of psychological and behavioralresearch. Bowling Green, OH: Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.
Kirschten, D. (2001, April). Revolving door woes. Government Executive, 33(4), 89.
Laker, D. R., & Williams, M. L. (2003). Nepotisms effect on employee satisfaction and organizational commitment: An empirical study. International Journal of Human Resources Development andManagement, 3, 191-202.
Lewis, C. W., & Gilman, S. C. The Ethics Challenge in Public Service: A Problem-Solving Guide (2nd Ed.). John Wiley: San Francisco, CA.
Lyman, M. D., & Potter, G. W. (2007). Organized Crime (4th ed.). Pearson: Upper Saddle Creek, NY.
Mulder, B. K. (2008).Risking the business or reaping the benefits: The antecedents and consequences of nepotism. (Doctoral Dissertation). DePaul University. Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. (UMI No. 3388095).
Monti, D.J. ( 2013 ). Urban People and Places.
"Nepotism." Encyclopedia of Management. 2009. Retrieved May 09, 2013 from
Nepotism. (2013). The Webster Online Dictionary.
Phillip, P. (2012). Family matters: Solving the Toughest familybusiness problems: selecting next leader; avoiding nepotism charges; reassuring child's mentor. American Drycleaner,79(7), p. 26.
Reed, C. M. (1988). Anti-nepotism rules and dual career couples: Policy questions for public personnel administrators. Public Personnel Management, 17(2), 223-227.
Reed, C. M., & Bruce, W. M. (1993). Dual-career couples in the public sector: A survey of personnel policies and practices. Public PersonnelManagement, 22, 187-198.
Reston, J. (1962). Washington: Pragmatism to nepotism in one easy lesson. New York Times, p. 28.
Robinson, L., &Rithie, B. K. (2010). Relationship Economics: The Social Capital Paradigm and It's Application to business, politics, and other transactions. Gower Publishing: Burlington, VT.
Sidani, Y. M., & Thornberry, J. (2003). An institutional theory perspective. Society for Business Ethic, 1-50
Therevolvingdoor (2002, September). New Internationalist Magazine, 349, 24.
Tlaiss, H., & Kauser, S. (2011). The importanceof Wastain the careersuccessof MiddleEasternmanagers. Journal of European Industrial Training, 35(5), 467-486.
Wasserman, H., Schwarzfuchs, S. R., & Lipman, V. D. (2007). Rothschild. Encyclopaedia Judaica, 17, 487-491.
Wendover, R. W. (2004). United States: The curse of nepotism. The Economist, 27, 1-6.
Wexler, J. G. (1982). Husbands and wives: The uneasy case for antinepotism rules. Boston University Law Review, 62, 75-142.
Wong, L. C., & Kleiner, B. H. (1994). Nepotism. Work Study, 43(5), 1-10.
Yang, C., Colarellin, S. M., Han, K. H., & Page, R. (2001). Start-up and hiring practicesofimmigrantentrepreneurs: An empiricalstudyfromanevolutionarypsychological perspective [In press].International Business Review, 1-10. Department of Management/MIS, Southern Connecticut State University.
How to Cite
Almostadi, W. (2020). Nepotism Practices in the United States and Saudi Arabia: A literature Review. Journal of Research in Business, Economics and Management, 14(3), 2676-2687. Retrieved from