Cultural Influences on Innovation, Innovation in the MENA Region


With social media over the last decade, everybody can constantly access what is happening worldwide. Every day on the Internet, countless stories highlight entrepreneurs who are at the height of innovation with their unique ideas and inventions. Some tales are viral, and one can be astounded at the creative solutions to complex problems offered by millions of people. But people often ignore the cultural shape of innovative ideas. Despite growing worldwide connections through globalization, it is still essential to recognize how innovation is influenced by cultural differences—specifically social conventions in each region (Faghih & Zali, 2018). People share several features in culture, like language, religious beliefs, food, cultural behavior, and so much more. Each economy has cultural diversity and different opinions that influence innovative ideas. These distinctions will be explored and researched to see how each affects innovation. The finding allows to conclude what cultural features are ideal for technology development and what features hinder innovative thinking.

Cultural norms, or the ability to share principles, rules, and behaviors, also affect how people interact in and around their culture. This norm is essential to understand because the culture of people often impacts their sentiments, actions, and conduct. Interestingly, the uniqueness of all cultures makes it an exciting topic of discussion for goal-oriented society members. However, there are usually two leading countries in the world: individualists or collectivists. Cultures can also be “tight” or “loose” within these classifications. Precisely, MENA region was once a stronghold for innovation and progress in science and development, but this is obviously no longer true with the analysts associating the failure with the conflicting cultures (Gorodnichenko & Roland, 2017). Multiculturalism among the company’s employees places a high value on the innovation strategy in how innovative ideas are generated. In addition, the geographical location and population of the employees have significant impacts on innovation and on how it is seen. Some cultures encourage people to think outside the box and push the boundaries, whereas others are content with their work.

Literature Review

Innovation, particularly with the 4th Industrial Revolution, has now become the motor of economic growth. Innovation in contemporary economies is critically essential. The development and success of companies and the economic power of nations are a driving force for improved living standards for consumers. R&D investment is critical for businesses and countries to produce innovations and compete in the future, indicating that investing in R&D is vital (Gorodnichenko & Roland, 2017). By creating jobs, creating wealth, and long-term economic expansion, innovation contributes to a growing economy. Therefore, the acquisition of innovation capacity is at the heart of both developing and developed countries’ plans and practices.

The emerging economies are attracted to innovation because it promotes economic development and growth and allows it to catch on and then expand into the global economy. Under pressure from the 2011 Arab Spring, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) zone is undergoing enormous economic and political change. However, there is a potential for more and better growth and young people to reshape their societies. Uprisings in Islamic countries have resulted in a flow of neurological energy and a stronger sense of empowerment among young people, as well as various social enterprises dealing with cultural activities, health care, agricultural production, water, quality of life, and women’s empowerment. Moreover, in some countries, like Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Israel, the MENA region has access to Europe and Asian markets, emerging societies with improved educational levels, and drastically transforming them into knowledge economies (Morrar, 2018). A recent World Bank report confirmed that MENA countries are able, thanks to the efforts of economic and sociological scholars who can swiftly adapt to new digital and mobile technology, to leap into the digital economy.

Enlightened members of the region recognize that cultural and related innovative industries play an essential role in promoting society. Also, scholars understand that young people are the key to accelerating the nation’s development path in all spheres. Many of the MENA states have initiated their science and technological innovation projects but are still back in many pillars of innovation underneath North America, Asia, Europe, and Oceania. The trend in innovation performance in the MENA region indicates a decline in technology development, as demonstrated by the decrease in the number of MENA countries worldwide, as enumerated in the GII 2018 among the first 50 countries (Gorodnichenko & Roland, 2017). Innovation systems face many challenges in many MENA regions, such as reduced government support for technological development, science, and engineering, weak institutional arrangements, weak financing for wisdom-intensive services and creating knowledge, and the disintegration of systems for technology. MENA nations need to develop innovation policies based on a shared vision for the entire region and addressing legal, economic, and social problems based on personal and re-regional perspectives. In addition, when developing policies for innovation, it is essential to consider global knowledge and technology.

Recent decades have spurred business enthusiasm in the province, especially in technology ventures, by changing the political, social, and economic conditions in the Arab World region of MENA. Social innovations, such as the current refugee crisis, invention induced by SDG 5, gender equality, and other factors, increase among some of the representative enterprises. The approach is a new initiative, program, or technology aimed at improving life for the disadvantaged, mainly promoting the wellbeing of society (Gorodnichenko & Roland, 2017). Moreover, women play a growing role in developing and developing sustainable innovations in the Arab world.

Adapted to the financial advancement of society as well as its social, political, and cultural growth is vital to ensure that new technologies are adequately developed, introduced, and diffused. Several reports and surveys show that in most Middle East and Northern African (MENA) countries and many segments of their societies, new technologies have not been adequately developed (Morrar, 2018). This issue has been addressed by recent studies of technological trends in the region. In a given country, the way ICT and digitalization move forward can indicate its capacity and preparedness for the adoption of innovation and technology in general. It can be considered on the cutting edge, but as a commercialization topic in many other technology developments and areas (Faghih & Zali, 2018). Specific prerequisites are not equally distributed throughout the region for further growth in technology, particularly ICT and digitalization. The trends in the use, research, education, and training of new technologies in a broad spectrum of highly unequally developed nations and sub-regions are characterized in the MENA region. With these critical technological and digital differences, the MENA region covers various pathways and applications.

Critical Evaluation of Secondary Data

Superior technology produces productivity gains and allows for growth in the economy where a stable state means zero economic growth for the longer term. Thus, it is at the core of the so-called process of convergence that countries’ ability to yield or import technological advances, which is supposed to lead laggards to better-performing industrialized nations (in terms of economic development). This definition has for some time been chiefly referred to by the OECD countries. But today, with more rapid technological progress in the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) and with the political and economic crises spreading all over the industrialized nations, this definition alone has ceased to apply. The Middle East/North African countries (MENA) are somewhat at the midpoint between Asia/South America’s fastest rising and Old Europe’s slowest growing countries. Nevertheless, Europe is still the dream and the primary reference partner (Gorodnichenko & Roland, 2017). In recent decades, MENA has shown moderate growth performance, particularly in Asia, compared to other developing countries.

The creation of organizational innovation offers, both for individual companies and the economic system as a whole, is an essential element. This chapter indicates that societies can promote financial innovation and accelerate their ability to compete through their cultural backgrounds. Social standards include an individual’s perceptions and incentives about his essential opinions about a particular subject and are divided into subjective measures and credentials (Gorodnichenko & Roland, 2017). Whereas GEM’s model relates to social standards as social recognition and a nationwide attitude to business, a social image is described as an entrepreneur’s social status. Media coverage of entrepreneurship and a national perspective is intended to prevent similar living standards and ‘entrepreneurship’ as a promising career.

If societies learn more about cultural diversity and their uniqueness, their impact on inventiveness, which often supports innovation, can be understood in better terms. Being creative refers to thinking about something new and valuable. Nevertheless, according to “Psychology Today,” different cultures value news and usefulness differently. Past studies have shown people are less creative in Asian cultures than people in Western cultures. However, recent studies have found that East Asian cultural groups can be creative if innovation is more effective than the appeal of creation (Faghih & Zali, 2018). The difference lies in the Western world’s focus on individualism versus collectivism in the Eastern world. People often need to deviate from the standards to find a solution when developing innovations—a feature is often frowned upon in close cultures with a collectivist focus. The latest advancements in individualistic norms tend to occur following the praise and achievement that the individual receives to think about the solution out of the box (Morrar, 2018). Most societies value practical innovation, mainly because it aligns with their cultural standards. However, the value of new ideas due to cultural insights into creativity is different.

The basic infrastructure in modern societies is a crucial precondition for socio-economic development in general progress and innovation, especially in the context of international market pressures and global competition, including access to scarce and limited resources. In this respect, MENA is predicted to become among the fastest-rising regions globally, overwhelming Asia’s leaders in 2016. In the past decade, MENA countries have spent 3-5 percent on infrastructure, higher than Latin America, Asia, and Europe’s Gross Domestic Power (GDP). But the capital and maintenance needs in MENA infrastructure are estimated at around US$ 106 billion annually, or 6.9 percent of the regional GDP annually by 2020 (Gorodnichenko & Roland, 2017). Due to demographic trends, social challenges, and rapid urbanization, the existing infrastructural system and the desire for new infrastructure are under enormous pressure.

It cannot be stated that MENA’s innovation performance is uniform. Suppose the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council are taken into account. In that case, innovative technology and GDP achievement follow an entirely different path because the industrial sector seems to be almost quasi. The segment of services is an engine for forwarding growth. The gas reserves are d Israel reflects a case more similar to that of West Economies, outperforming EU nations and many industries (Morrar, 2018). Existing literature has customarily overlooked the causative factors of such a deceiving pattern of technology in most MENA countries. The research studies concentrate more on the financial implications of trade and foreign direct investment (FDI) and tranquility, stability, and diplomatic migratory issues (Faghih & Zali, 2018). Despite the variety of academic papers and publications published by international organizations, the economic expansion contribution of the MENA countries, which focuses on the role of innovation and TFP (total factor productivity) growth, remains limited.

Conclusion & Recommendations

The MENA region has experienced severe substantial constraints to sustainable growth in recent decades instead of other expanding global countries, which have significantly affected the young people and their inclusion in productive, innovative economies. Given the levels of industrialization, group of private investment and sectoral composition, or companies’ technology and efficiency innovations, there is no Arab country that contributed to the creation of fast-growing developing economies (Morrar, 2018). Poverty affects more than 36 percent of the populace at the economic level, and more than 30 million are hungry. Socially, young people face high levels of unemployment of 23.4 percent in 2010 (Faghih & Zali, 2018). These social injustices, amongst other things, reached a turning point in 2011, leading to the Arab Spring uprisings. In particular, social initiatives aimed at cultural activities, wellness, agriculture, water, sanitary conditions, and women’s empowerment have led, in the region, to a rise in entrepreneurial activities.

Thus, government officials in the various MENA countries need to take invest in innovation culture. A complete change is so enormous that it must always start from above. It necessitates comprehensive and robust leadership. Leaders must become role models for the type of behavior that everyone expects, but this is insufficient (Morrar, 2018). Leaders must always communicate their aims and the significance of such a transformation and be prepared to execute their duties by committing themselves to make the changes needed to implement this change.

Educationists need to partner with the other stakeholders to enlighten the potential economic players about the need to uphold the population’s conflicting cultural values when recommending cost-effective, innovative projects to better the region’s entrepreneurial successes. Educators recognize that to foster an innovation system truly, and society must pursue activities and innovations, not just generate continuous perceptual chatter (Morrar, 2018). This fact does not mean that each idea is tremendous or every new software offer should be prototyped directly. Take time, but not too long, to collect information and make an educated choice. Thus, all stakeholders need to take part in promoting a more inclusive cultural innovation in the region.


Faghih, N., & Zali, M. R. (2018). Entrepreneurship ecosystem in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Dynamics in Trends, Policy and Business Environment, 707.

Gorodnichenko, Y., & Roland, G. (2017). Culture, institutions, and the wealth of nations. Review of Economics and Statistics, 99(3), 402-416.

Morrar, R. (2018). Innovation in the MENA Region. Strategic Sectors| Economy & Territory.

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