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Voicing experiences and perceptions of local managers: expatriation in the Arab Gulf

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This paper addresses the inadequacy of the literature of International Human Resource Management (IHRM) explaining expatriation in developing countries and, in particular, in the Arab Gulf. The workforce in most of the Arab Gulf countries consists mainly of expatriates while locals remain a minority in their own country. Despite its ‘international’ dimension, IHRM literature gives little voice to the locals working alongside expatriates when seeking an understanding of expatriation. Instead, a dominant assumption is that local citizens have little role in shaping the career choices and outcomes of expatriates. This paper addresses this research gap by examining expatriation from the point of view of the local managers who work with expatriates. Twenty-eight qualitative interviews were conducted with Emirati top and middle managers in the United Arab Emirates, all of whom have either managed or worked with expatriates. The cases of two key companies, NBK Capital and Strata, were also included. The research made enquiry into the talent management of locals and expatriates in these companies. Results point to key assumptions typically made in the IHRM literature that are not always true in the context of expatriation in the Arab Gulf countries.
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Keywords: Arab Gulf states; United Arab Emirates; case studies; expatriation; local managers

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Université de Toulouse, Toulouse Business School, Toulouse, France

Publication date: 2014-08-06

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