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Effective Management of Expatriate


Discuss what Emirati firms need to do to effectively manage their expatriate workforce.



In the advent of globalization that imprints obvious marks in the principles of economy, it has become almost imperative, to have a workforce with considerable soundness about the corresponding standards in order retain the relative competitive edge. Furthermore, this impulse is somewhat advocates the global concerns to invest expatriates to attend several international projects of higher excellence along with ensuring anemic financial returns on the same. It is almost rife to avail the aforementioned as some scholarly simulations exhibits that most of the large enterprises as well as the SMEs have decided to invest on expatriates while increasing the number of the same they own.

In this regard, the trend of the concern has come to a point where the business units seek to evaluate whether the duration of expatriation is worthwhile or not from a staunch organizational and individual perspective the requisite expenditure behind every expatriate is almost three times from their equivalent stance in their respective habitat.

Several research suites happen to transmit pestering outcomes in this regard as they revealed that most of the expatriates are prone to return home out of a sheer dissatisfaction about their appointed profiles or from an inability to cope with the cultural nuances of the overseas workplace ambience. On the other hand, the problem, which has been extensively designated as cardinal, is the proclivity of the respective expatriates, which enables them to serve the archrivals of the previous one they have catered immediately after their repatriation while doubling the rate of turnover for the domestic managers. From an intense critical note, scholars intend to characterize this pivotal flaw portrayed by most of the companies through the axiom regarding the identical principles of diverse businesses which is vulnerable to be assumed by the companies and simultaneously develop a realization that they does not need to employ special expertise to train their expats. On the same note, it has been discovered altogether that while having the introspection regarding the cultural diversity prevalent in the workforce, what they significantly lack is the awareness is this inherent variance is potent enough to warrant the relevant management about the expenditure regarding the preparation of their expats to avail overseas assignments.

However, the scenario in United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the corresponding Gulf States and the countries patronized by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is diametrically reverse. In this regard, most of the articles regarding the current pursuit appear determined to restore the balance between localization and expatriation as most of the assignments over there is prone to be governed by the expatriates while the local population happens to occupy a miserable minority. However, the respective authorities, instead of being adverse and regressive towards the expatriates, consider this majority of expatriates as a cardinal notion of the political and socio-economic discourses and agendas of GCC.

Thus, it is evident from the above discussion that it has become almost imperative to invest expats for availing overseas assignments of higher merit, not in terms of luxury but in terms of obligation to obtain the desired relative competitive edge in this volatile business environment. This act of investing expats can also be justified from the perspective of financial gain and growth of capital since it promises anemic financial returns. Furthermore, it has also become evident that the premature departures of the expats are chiefly caused by sheer job dissatisfaction and cross-cultural hostility, which inherently curbs the experience of the foreign workplaces as not being worthwhile for the host company.

As the flagrant void in the pertinent literature exhibits the inability to discern the governing factors that advocate this weird phenomenon and the vulnerable consequences for functioning expatriates prevalent in UAE, the current study is supposed to critique the grappling decisions undertook coupled with the controversial aspects of the intention to introduce a quotient of balance in localization and expatriation. This has been done in order to transmit prudent recommendations regarding effective expatriate management prevalent Emirati firms.     

Review of the Literature

The gross drawbacks that most of the sectors of UAE and other GCCs are inclined to dispense are mainly caused by the act in which they employ the responsibility of nominating a proper expat on the Human Resource cell. As most of the pertinent literature suggests, in most of the cases the exponent on the cell pertains little or almost no value regarding the unique and exclusive challenges that the expats are expected to cope with since they have not functioned abroad themselves ever. As an inevitable consequence, they fail to respond to the administrative minutiae of overseas projects since they appear incapable to capture the emerging strategic opportunities (AlMazrouei, 2014). 

Contextual Scenario

As it was feebly mentioned earlier, the notion of expatriation in UAE and the corresponding GCCs typically bears no resemblance with rest of the practices prevalent across the globe since the majority of the workforce functioning on UAE happens to be composed of expatriates, enforcing the rest of the provincial population to transform themselves into a minority. Furthermore, the upcoming demands of identical roles and expected outcomes along with the prediction of its consistency appear to influence the respective authorities to designate it as an cardinal topic in the moot discourses and agendas of the political and socio-economical concerns of the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries. In this regard, the decision-makers and executors appear to grapple the virulent aspects that are vulnerable to evoke potent controversies while imparting a persistent effort to introduce the requisite balance between the notions of expatriation and localization (Aljbour, 2017). As it was evidently mentioned in the introductory phase of the current pursuit that the prevalent studies and the pertinent archives of identical concerns appear incapable to identify the advocating factors that governs this absurd phenomenon, this segment of the underlying study is supposed to evaluate the vulnerable consequences that the expatriates might face while residing and functioning in UAE. In this regard, the decision makers can be suggested to fathom the embedded dynamism of the notion expatriation in order to anticipate the influential factors that might be potent enough to shape the cultural identity of the respective expat (Awais Bhatti, 2014). Furthermore, prudency regarding the policies of localization and the cardinal institutional factors that might encourage the shaping of the same also needs to be judged with proper introspection. 

In accordance with the apprehensions that have been extensively mentioned in the prevalent literature that backs the intellectual archive of the underlying study, it has been admitted that most of the implications in this regard have flagrantly ignored the issues regarding cross-cultural management. It is imperative since it might enable the prevalent pursuits to fathom the provincial perspectives and its successive proportion of supplement in the notion of expatriation. Contextually, it also needs to mention over here as the pertinent literature is devoid of it is the relevant and reliable framework that might enable the current pursuit to contextualize in accordance with the principles of cross-cultural management studies. This has been intended to done in order to assist the upcoming researchers to acquire expertise regarding these ignored regions (Awais Bhatti, 2014).

Several motivational theories & factors

  • Expectancy theory: In this regard, the moot objective of this theoretical framework appears to be the proportion of reward expectancy in accordance with the proposed effort. This framework of motivational analysis needs to be exploited to fathom the underlying connection between the motivations of the expat against their assignments. This framework extensively lauded in the context of UAE. Hereby, the notion of expectancy has been depicted as the function of valence, expectancy and instrumentality respectively.

In terms of an empirical mathematical expression, the entity of Expectancy can be depicted as the product of the aforementioned functional components. In this regard, it can also be said that the entity is directly proportional with the cardinal components which has been exploited to assess the proportion of expectancy prevalent in a respective expat.

Figure: Effort-Performance characteristics

Source: (AlMazrouei, 2014)

  • Herzberg’s theory: This has been explored in the current context as the subsequent apprehensions of Motivation-Hygiene theory developed by Fredrick Herzberg. In this pursuit, the theory is supposed to evaluate the diverse oeuvre of motivational impulses of an expat while scrutinizing the factors associated with hygiene. In this regard, a semi-structured interview has been arranged where the expats has been obliged to undergo a certain number of open ended questions that might transmit their inclinations regarding the notions of motivation. In this context, the opinions appear to reveal the extent of motivation towards which the respective expat willing to go (Konanahalli, 2014). 

There exist several factors as well that might enable the respective employees to retain their motivation regarding the absolute objective under which they are appointed to attend a overseas assignment of merit. These can be categorized as follows;

  • Recognition: It has been considered as a cardinal tool to retain the motivational impulses of a certain expat. The prevalent research about Recognition being one of the major critical factors suggests that ignoring this governing exponent might succumb the entire investment towards failure. In order to obtain the expectations that the expat possess regarding the notion of recognition needs to be extracted in order to ensure his/her stern motivation towards the absolute objective of the current project (Sharif, 2016).

Figure: Importance of Recognition

Source: (Sharif, 2016)

  • Responsibility: This quotient of retaining the motivation of the expats prevalent in UAE have already been discussed as a default exponent of the Herzberg theory where the responsibility of the invested expat as a reciprocal impulse of the sense of self-satisfaction and impulse has been desired to assess. As the research studies specific to the context of UAE suggest that almost 77% of the expats are supposed to be considered as the exponents who wish to measure their proportion of motivation in terms of responsibility employed to them (Trembath, 2016).

Figure: Importance of Responsibility


Major challenges and mitigation

The major challenges in this paradigm can be discerned from the global crises that most of the Multinational companies function in UAE is supposed to cope with. This major reasons can be classified as;

  • Failed assignments regarding the premature return of the Expariates
  • Lack of cross-cultural adjustments

The failure of the expatriates have almost become a global phenomena in the premises of the MNCs that enable certain scholarly acumens to identify the major reasons underlies behind it. As most of the study reveals that in the majority of cases, the expats suffer from a gross deficiency of the ability to cope in cross-cultural dimensions that can be portrayed as the prime region behind the emerging trend of job satisfaction. Apart from the previous case, most of the expats are supposed to leave their assignments for home due to the emerging hostility that their families and spouses are obliged to face during the tenure of the respective expat (Yaghi, 2013). 

Apart from the above-mentioned reasons, there are ample amount of issues that might cause failure regarding the investment on a particular expat. In this regard, the pertinent archive of literature intends to suggest the embedded dimensions that might guide a certain expat towheads gross dissatisfaction need to be trimmed of in the initial phase of recruitment. While evaluating the prevalent practices of expat selection it has been discovered that most of the vehement and priorities have been imparted on the aspect on technological soundness where the notion of technological competency has very little to cope with the cross-cultural hostilities. In this regard, most of the units prevalent in UAE appear to neglect several other interpersonal aspects that might enable the unit to combat the same emerging notion. In this advent, most of the circumspect literature suggests to emphasize on the phase of selecting an expat with appropriate categorical qualifications that might enable the respective unit to cope with the emerging aspects ofhostility that the expats are likely to be subjected with (Yaghi, 2013).

For instance, in terms of the dimensions prevalent to relations, the respective expat is supposed to exhibit tolerance towards the ambiguities, which are practiced to be taken as granted. In terms of language, on the other hand, the expats need to exhibit a interest of being polyglot with the considerable reverence towards the other cultural discourses while pertaining a strong command over his own host language (du Toit, 2014).

To peep into another integral factor in this regard is to explore the notion of Repatriation since in most of the cases it is supposed to play one of the governing roles. It has been seen from the previously conducted researches that a minor moiety of the companies prevalent in UAE is supposed to promote almost half of their expats on their return to home and their prevalent position. In this regard, as most of the companies intends to endow their returned expats with a mutually accepted position, the literature prevalent to this pursuit offers a metric of arguments which intends to acknowledge the fact that this trend is supposed to facilitate the expats to left the company (Sharif, 2016).

The pertinent literature of this pursuit has discussed about the dual career dilemma as an accredited problem that is emerging within the employees and appear potent to affect their subsequent career adversely. In this regard, most of the decision makers appear perplexed to develop the plan that might mitigate this emerging issue. However, it has been established that prudent career counseling programs might enable the expats to combat with this issue.


Recommended attributes for Expatriate Success

These recommendations are supposed to be delivered to the Human Resources exponent in order to facilitate him/her regarding the elimination of the embedded causes that might afflict a respective expat with the possibilities that are vulnerable to evoke job dissatisfaction and the subsequent career dilemmas. These attributes respective to a certain expat needs to be incorporated in order to obtain circumspect managerial skills that might transmit effectiveness regarding the management of expats (Konanahalli, 2014).

Figure: Layout of Pre-departure training of the expats

Source: (Bodolica, Managing Organizations in the United Arab Emirates: Dynamic Characteristics and Key Economic Developments, 2014)

  • In terms of technical skills that are extensively considered as the cardinal base of judging a expat, the expat needs to possess a considerable amount of withstanding ability which is supposed to enable them with the capability to deal with ambiguities. In this regard, the motivational aspiration needs to ensure their profound belief and dedication towards the goal of the respective project. Furthermore, it needs to ensure the respective willingness for their spouses and the rest of the families to prioritize their living abroad. In terms of language skills, apart from a profound interest of being a polyglot, the expat needs to ensure a considerable soundness regarding his/her hosts language (Trembath, 2016).
  • In terms of the acquaintance with the host countries while pertaining an insightful awareness regarding the modus operandi of the headquarters of the respective unit. This can be considered as the outcome of the effective behavioral flexibility, which is an imperative feature that every expat must possess. In terms of the desired motivational state, the expat is expected to exhibit congruence with the trajectory of their career in order to get rid of the controversial aspects of career dilemma. In this regard, the expat has to pledge of an adaptive and supportive spouse in order to retain his edge in cross-cultural dimension. In this regard, it is essential to admit that the expat needs to acquire a considerable prudence in non-verbal communication to combat with the cross-cultural hostilities.
  • In terms of managerial skills, the respective unit needs to approve a non-judge mental attitude towards every decision in order to develop the acumen to consider every aspect with sincerity. The motivation in this regard needs to be fueled by the interests regarding the overseas markets that are potent enough to ensure new frontiers over the prevalent customer base (Sharif, 2016).

Figure: Requisite attributes for an expat

Source: (Aljbour, 2017)

  • In terms of administrative competence and in order to sustain in the cross-cultural atmosphere the expat needs to possess a considerable empathy against every cultural inclinations coupled by an inherent low ethnocentrism while consolidating a specific interest regarding the cultural inclinations of the host countries.     


The prospective outcomes of this recurring study happens to exhibit the key causes which governed the premature exodus of the expatriates that has been considered as one of the major challenges regarding the retention of expats. As the study exhibits, the challenge prevalent in UAE and several other GCCs is the emerging notion of nationalization under which the relevant authorities appear adamant to replace the prospective expats in most of the major sectors with national citizens of equivalent expertise. Though they are proclaiming not to impose any regression towards the expats, the inherent hostility that is vulnerable to appear backed by an biased impulse of nationalism might undermine the expats to function seamlessly. Furthermore, what appear evident as a potent emerging challenge is the causes related to the families where most of the spouses and the wards of some prospective expats exhibited sheer inability to cope with the overseas environment which governs the failure of the expenditure while encouraging the expats to return early. In this regard, the principal authorities of UAE and identical Gulf countries to devise exclusive institutional mechanisms that might introduce the requisite priority on the notions of family adaptability in their nominated domain to ensure a partial success of the investment on the expats (AlMazrouei, 2014). 

Apart from the aforementioned aspect, the pertaining study is supposed to reveal several other significant issues regarding the retention of the expats. It is evident from the organizational demeanor of most of the concerns prevalent in UAE that while adapting the expats they are prone to recruit them in accordance with the technological competence that they are supposed to exhibit in order to conform with the requisite eligibilities. In this regard, most of the reliable account happens to transmit that, technological soundness, though being one of the governing criteria of eligibility and cardinal bases for nomination, pertain very little dimension to cope with the culture diversity prevalent in the foreign workplaces that might pave them to develop a sound spirit of cooperation with their respective subordinates. Furthermore, the significance of being a polyglot or dispense expertise in a variety of languages and several other prime experience of foreign markets has been undermined by the potential respondents as a relatively insignificant skill to consider. In this regard, the can be recommended to impart the requisite emphasis on those specified skills as well since it significantly quench the urge of further orientation. In terms of , it is an established practice in most of the concerns prevalent in UAE to undermine the skills regarding adjustment in the foreign quarters and consequently the management are prone to reduce the material, expertise and counseling support considerably. In this regards, the argument of  several fecund articles intends to introduce a counter dimension where the scholar encourages to reduce the excessive vehemence on the prevalent experiences of the expats simply by depicting it as inadequate for ensuring the success regarding the investment on the expats. As most of the fecund works in the underlying discipline suggests, the sectors of UAE needs to make a gradual shift that might pave them towards the enhancement of expatriate management simply by placing greater emphasis on the aspects related to personality features and the abilities to motivate and establish relationships (Aljbour, 2017). 

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