The academic expatriate in the United Arab Emirates: A new lens through which to view expatriate sociocultural adjustment

by Reynolds, Adrienne A., Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2010, 185 pages; 3418157


Research conducted on expatriates sent on international assignments by their employing organizations is a robust field of academic study and much knowledge has been generated about this population. However, while useful to the study of expatriate management, this body of literature, through the exclusion of other types of expatriates, lacks full generalizability of its findings. This study enriched a vanguard topic of expatriate management literature by investigating the sociocultural adjustment experiences of a little-researched subpopulation of expatriates; those that self-initiate their own foreign work experiences. This study employed a quantitative web survey to generate data about the sociocultural adjustment experiences of academic expatriates teaching at colleges and universities in the United Arab Emirates. Nine hypotheses were generated and tested regarding the relationship of the antecedent factors of previous overseas work experience and foreign language ability and the in-country factor of culture novelty with cultural adjustment, interaction adjustment, and work adjustment. Hypotheses regarding foreign language ability were not supported. Hypotheses regarding previous overseas work experience were partially supported. Hypotheses regarding culture novelty were fully supported. In addition, exploratory analysis was conducted with additional control variables to explore the influence of factors not currently included in a seminal model of expatriate sociocultural adjustment on the adjustment experiences of the surveyed participants. Evidence was produced to warrant further examination of the factors of age, education level, degree of satisfaction with previous overseas work experience(s), length of employment in current job, employing institution, and location by city. These results were subsequently compared with data obtained from similar studies of traditional expatriates to further understand similarities and differences between these two subpopulations of expatriates. Finally, the results of this analysis provided original knowledge about the sociocultural adjustment experiences of self-initiating expatriates, contributed to the understanding of the validity of prior research conducted on traditional expatriates and prompted a reexamination of the dominant theoretical model of expatriate sociocultural adjustment upon which much of the expatriate adjustment research is based. Suggestions for further research based on this foundational study were provided.

AdviserMary F. Whitman
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsManagement; Labor relations
Publication Number3418157

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