A Study of Determinants Linked to Executive Succession Planning in UAE Public Sector
Muna Saleh Al Suwaidi
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Succession planning is important for organizational growth and business sustainability in the public sector. The aim of this study was to identify and prioritize the factors promoting executive succession planning in public sector organizations in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Several researchers have studied succession planning in various national contexts and organizations, but few have examined succession planning in the UAE or Middle East. The study used the analytic hierarchy process, a structured multi-criteria decision-making approach, to investigate possible criteria and provide a best-fit solution to this problem. A questionnaire drawing on the literature was designed in the form of pair-wise comparisons based on the proposed hierarchical structure. It used a nine-point rating scale to indicate the relative importance of each criterion or sub-criterion in the hierarchy. The study sample was selected from among the top-performing public sector organizations in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, UAE. The respondents were given five main criteria and 29 sub-criteria to assess. The findings revealed that the most important factors in executive succession planning were succession planning strategy, organizational culture, and leadership development opportunities. Of the 29 sub-criteria, detection of successor candidates and succession planning framework were considered the most important. Knowledge management, particularly knowledge transfer, has previously been found to influence executive succession planning and to provide competitive advantages. The process is also affected by changes in the culture of the institution, so organizations need to foster a culture of trust and care. Respondents also indicated that leadership development, when linked to leadership competencies, has a positive impact on senior management effectiveness. The findings suggest that organizations are moving away from classic replacement planning to a more inclusive approach focused mainly on the development of internal talent pools. This approach addresses change management and the fulfilment of the organizational mission and strategy. A framework for decision-makers was developed that could be used to overcome some of the challenges of executive succession planning. It is hoped that this study will help policy makers to formulate suitable policies and strategies to promote executive succession planning in public sector organizations. It will also help them to implement best practice in this field.