Dealing With Cross-Cultural Differences at Workplace in the UAE
Impact of Cross-Cultural Differences On Adjustment of Expatriate Employees in the Work Environment of the UAE
INTRODUCTION / LITERATURE REVIEW
The working environment in the UAE has seen huge changes in the last 25 years or so. The change has been introduced primarily by the opening up of multinational firms in the UAE. This has created job opportunities for expatriates, therefore bringing about a large diversity in the workplace with multitude of attitudes, cultures, etc. Managers who employed top positions 25 years ago would see a completely different work environment today. The way managers lead and treat employees has changed. In general, United Arab Emirates is perceived to be a considerably modern country as compared to the rest of the Middle East countries such as Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, etc. And therefore the workplace attitude is experiencing inclination towards a more westernized approach (Communicaid Group Ltd, 2009). This paper would give an insight into what major changes have overtaken he UAE’s job market since the overwhelming arrival of expatriate workers in the country and what pros and cons does this trend indicate, apart from learning the causes and its affect on the local culture.
A study conducted within the UAE by Paton and Behery in 2008 investigated the relationship between performance appraisal, culture and organizational outcomes. It revealed that if performance appraisal fairly reflected performance and value of organization, it does contribute towards increase employee motivation. According to their study, UAE culture is considered to be as that of uncertainty avoidance and a high power distance (Hofstede’s cultural dimensions). Western models seemed to have settled in well at the workplaces due to the presence of multinational enterprises that have been established in the country (Behery et al, 2008).
UAE has been a high cultured economy with emphasis on relationships, presence of networks of getting work done, and for procedural communication necessary to implement a certain decision (Victor, n.d).
Investigation has been made by Yousef in 2000 on the role of organizational commitment to creating job satisfaction and leading to job performance. For purpose of the study, 430 individuals working in different organizations in the UAE were surveyed via questionnaire. Results revealed that employees surveyed were highly committed to the organizations in which they worked and were satisfied with their job therefore performed well. This means that a positive relationship exists between these variables. A key point identified was that good leadership has a role in easy adjustment of expatriate employees and for local employees to be mixing well with the expatriate employees, thus creating commitment towards organizations (Yousef, 2000).
Yousef also attempted to study the role that organization commitment plays as a facilitator between Islamic work ethics and perceptions towards organizational changes. For this purpose, he used a sample of 474 employees from 30 organizations from 5 different districts in the UAE. Path analysis of the survey indicated that the Islamic work ethics had a positive influence on both organizational commitment and the changes. It was also overall concluded that western management theories are valid in nonwestern environment (Yousef, 2000). The acceptance on western management styles in UAE can be attributed to the presence of multicultural workforce. Due to the acute local workforce, a high number of expatriates are employed at the work place thereby creating a diverse and dynamic work environment.
In order to study how the multicultural workplace environment in UAE and how it deals with cultural differences, it is essential to understand how the influence of social changes on the perceptions, thinking and lifestyles of Emirati families. Sara Ashencaen attempted to investigate...
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* Behery, M. & Paton, R. (2008) “Performance Appraisal-Cultural fit and Organizational Outcomes within the U.A.E”, Journal of American Academy of Business, Cambridge [online], Vol. 14, Iss. 2. Available: www.proquest.com,
* Commuicaid Group Ltd. (2009) “Doing Business in the UAE: UAE Business and Social Culture” [online], Available: http://www.communicaid.com/access/pdf/library/culture/doing-business-in/Doing%20Business%20in%20the%20UAE.pdf
* Hutching, K. & Weir, D. (2006) “Understanding networking in China and Arab World; Lessons for international managers”, Journal of European Industrial Training [online], Vol. 30, Iss. 4; pg 272. Available: www.proquest.com
* Victor, D. (n,d) “Arab World Doing Business in the…” Encyclopedia of Business [online], Available:http://www.referenceforbusiness.com/encyclopedia/A-Ar/Arab-World-Doing-Business-in-the.html
* Yousef, D. (2000) “Organizational commitment: a mediator of the relationships of leadership behavior with job satisfaction and performance in a non-western country”, Journal of Managerial Psychology [online], Vol. 15, Iss. 1; pg. 6. Available: www.proquest.com
* Yousef, D. (2000) “Organizational commitment as a mediator of the relationship between Islamic work ethic and attitudes toward organizational change”, Human Relations [online], Vol. 53, Iss.4; pg. 513, 25 pgs. Available: www.proquest.com [Accessed 9th November, 2010].
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