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Title: A study of self-interest biases of self-initiated expatriates in Dubai, UAE
Author: Nates, M. B.
ISNI:       0000 0004 8505 7566
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis investigated the causes and consequences of self-interest biases of self-initiated expatriates (SIEs) working in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). SIEs are professionals who have voluntarily left their home countries seeking employment in a host country in order to further their careers and financial standing while all the while maintaining an intention to ultimately repatriate. The study aimed to qualify and explore the workplace problem of SIEs in Dubai being materially biased by self-interest. The biases were considered to be a consequence of a range of interacting stressors arising from, inter alia, variability in decision making processes, ethical conflicts, cross and multi-cultural contexts, expatriate expectations and adjustment, the relationship between leaders and followers and, the local labour and residential laws. It was hypothesised that these organisational and social contexts could lead to SIEs having a negative perception of organisation support which in turn predisposed them to ethical malpractices and underperforming decisions. The research aimed to identify practical organisational development interventions that would ameliorate these tensions and so improve the working environment. A Cooperative Inquiry approach was chosen as the research methodology based on a literature and research review. A learning set of eleven consenting SIEs was established in the researcher’s organisation to study the problem in context. The set met six times over a period of 18 months to explore the underlying issues. Time between sessions was used for reflection and implementation of their insights. At the end of the program, all of the participants reported both personal and professional development that they had operationalised. Data were analysed using a Thematic Analysis approach which delivered a thematic map and a suite of key themes. The data themes and research observations that emerged aligned with and corroborated the literature. The research reached the conclusion that the self-interest biases of SIEs in Dubai was a valid and real organisational problem that is under appreciated and needs to be addressed. Job insecurity and the variability of ethics and ethical leadership in a cross-cultural context were identified as the main contributing factors. Secondary factors were cross cultural dynamics and communications, a SIE’s ongoing adaptation & culture shock, and the consequences of weak perceived organisational support. The main contribution to professional management’s knowledge was a process model, Self-Initiated Expatriate Self-Interest Model (SIESIM), that described the interactions and consequences of the stressors faced by SIEs in Dubai. The SIESIM provided a tool to explain how workplace and social pressures progressively predisposed and cumulatively nudged a SIE, as they adjust to and accommodate the local context, towards self-interest biases and thence onward to moral disengagement and biased decision-making. The model provided a readily useable and practical platform for organisations to systematically understand and address the issues as part of a holistic change plan. Finally, based on peer interviews, it appeared that the research findings maybe generalizable to other work contexts and employment categories (including millennials) that have similar stressors and work-life environments.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.B.A.) Qualification Level: Doctoral