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Gamification in Dubai’s Diverse Workforce Contexts Research Paper

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Updated: Jul 20th, 2020


Background Information

The UAE is one of the fastest-growing economies in the Gulf region. One of the factors contributing to this success is innovation that is often achieved through the use of foreign labor force (Matherly & Hodgson, 2014).

Expatriates form a significant portion of the labor forces in the Gulf states. The Emirati nationals rate is around 80%, which is regarded as appropriate for the development of the country since the excessive reliance on the foreign workforce may undermine the development of the country. At that, Matherly and Hodgson (2014) claim that the ratio of expatriates and nationals can change as only 43% of the Emirati nationals employed are under 24 years old. This trend unveils the persistent need to develop proper cross-cultural communications for Emirati companies as nationals and expatriates have to collaborate effectively to achieve organizational goals.

Internal communication has a considerable impact on the work environment as well as the performance of employees and the entire company. Linke and Zerfass (2011) stress that effective internal communication positively affects the employees’ motivation and performance. Cross-cultural communication is a key component of the internal communication in organizations with a diverse workforce. It is especially important for Emirati companies where the number of expatriates is steadily increasing irrespective of the Emiratization policies (Matherly & Hodgson, 2014). Rana (2013) states that Emirati companies are now investing in the development of proper strategies of internal and cross-cultural communication.

Gamification is one of the techniques used to improve internal communication. It implies the utilization of “the mechanisms of gaming to non-game activities to change people’s behavior” (as cited in Marston & Hall, 2015, p. 80). The use of games is specifically aimed at enhancing the employees’ motivation and engagement as well as improving their performance. Thottathil (2013) states that Emirati organizations have already acknowledged the benefits of the use of games as applied to teamwork, motivation, internal communication, training and performance management. However, many organizations in the private sector still try to resort to more formal types of training.

Key Concepts

Before addressing the problem statement, it is important to identify several key concepts that will be employed in this study. Internal communication implies the exchange of ideas and information within an organization (Linke & Zerfass, 2011). This study will concentrate on the exchange between Emirati nationals, citizens of the UAE, and expatriates, foreign employees who are often hired to achieve particular organizational goals. This interaction is referred to as the cross-cultural communication as people about different cultural groups exchange ideas and information.

When addressing issues concerning internal communication, it is essential to utilize the concept of the organizational culture, which is defined as a set of “primary artifacts, values, and assumptions” common for all the employees within an organization (Keyton, 2011, p. 21).

This study focuses on the use of gamification in the Emirati context. As has been mentioned above, gamification is the process of using games in the work environment to achieve specific goals. An example of the use of games is the use of race in one of the companies (Al-Khouri, 2014). Employees were invited to choose a car in a race that revealed the employee’s progress. The more customer’s applications employees audited, the farther their car was in the race. Importantly, the employees could trace each other’s performance, which was a significant motivational factor.

Problem Statement and Research Questions

One of the primary problems existing among Emirati companies operating in the private sector is that the HR specialists fail to introduce proper training strategies to improve internal communication. The lack of attention to cross-cultural communication is a central contributing factor to the inefficiency of the training provided. Al-Khouri (2014) stresses that Emirati HR specialists often employ some formal training methods when it comes to cross-cultural communication although they are aware of the benefits of gamification. This training strategy is often used to enhance the adherence to the organizational culture or employees’ motivation. This study will focus on such concepts as gamification and cross-cultural communication.

Therefore, this study will address the following research questions:

  • RQ1: How does gamification lead to the improvement of the cross-cultural communication between Emirati nationals and expatriates in Dubai’s private sector companies?
  • RQ2: What positive changes in the employees’ performance, motivation, and satisfaction are associated with the publication of gamification to cross-cultural communication training in Dubai’s private sector companies?

Theoretical Framework

It is important to use the relevant theoretical framework to address the research question. The focus is made on cross-cultural communication. Clearly, understanding a culture can help people better understand each other in the work environment. Therefore, the use of Hofstede’s model is beneficial for reaching the study’s goals. According to Hofstede (2011), cultures can be analyzed within six dimensions: power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism, masculinity/femininity, long- / short-term orientation, indulgence/restraint.

Power distance is the degree to which people “accept and expect” unequal distribution of power (Hofstede, 2011, p. 9). Small power distance is a characteristic feature of societies where people believe that power should be distributed equally, whereas large power distance is a peculiarity of countries where people accept the unequal distribution of power. The dimension of uncertainty avoidance reveals a society’s “tolerance for ambiguity” (Hofstede, 2011, p. 10). Strong uncertainty avoidance is manifested in people’s reliance on rules and order, clarity, and established structures. Societies characterized by weak uncertainty avoidance dislike rules and rigid structures.

Individualism and collectivism display the way individuals are integrated into various groups. In individualist societies, individuals value the right to express ideas and to have privacy. Importantly, the goal is regarded as more important than relationships. In collectivist societies, the opinion of the group matters while individuals’ opinions are often irrelevant (Hofstede, 2011). People are seen as in-group or out-group individuals, and the relationships are often more important than the goals and tasks.

Masculinity vs. femininity implies the distribution of female and male values. In societies characterized by a significant level of femininity, people value empathy, compassion, work and family balance, stronger female participation in the social life. In societies with a higher level of masculinity, people believe that work is more important than the family, males are more active socially while females are assigned to domestic tasks, assertive behaviors prevail.

Long- and short-term orientation unveils people’s attitude towards the future and the past. In short-term oriented societies, traditions are essential, and people believe that the most important events already took place or can take place at present. Stability is one of the most valued features of an individual. In the long-term oriented societies, people believe that the most important events will take place in the future and the present, as well as the past, are less relevant. Traditions are regarded as appropriate for changes. Flexibility and adjustability are seen as important features of a person.

The final dimension identified is indulgence/restraint that is associated with such concepts as happiness and satisfaction. Thus, societies characterized by a high level of indulgence value personal freedom and leisure. The society “allows relatively free gratification of basic and natural human desires related to enjoying life and having fun” (Hofstede, 2011, p. 15). Restraint is a characteristic feature of societies where needs are regulated through “strict social norms” (Hofstede, 2011, p. 15).

This study will also be grounded on the theory of social change. According to this theory, people’s decisions and behavioral patterns depend on their evaluation of the costs and benefits (Bratianu, 2015). Thus, individuals consider their potential gains and losses when making any decisions. When it comes to any training, it is vital to apply the theory of social change as it helps predict people’s motivation and engagement in various activities.

When employees acknowledge the benefits of gamification, they are more likely to be active and eager to get engaged. In terms of the theory of social change, it is possible to predict that the employees will be motivated to play games as the costs of the activity are insignificant as games require only basic skills and comparatively little time. At the same time, they are associated with such gains as improved performance, a better work environment, and even larger salaries, which are major benefits of training.

Literature Review

Cross-Cultural Communication

It is necessary to note that the issues associated with cross-cultural communication (especially in the Gulf countries) have received significant attention. Irimiaş (2011) unveils several peculiarities of cross-cultural communication. The researcher stresses that non-verbal communication tends to play a key role in the process. Verbal strategies also require considerable attention as people about different cultures often have different approaches to the way they share information or negotiate.

For example, Americans and Germans prefer directness and debate issues openly while Arabic people use quite a hyperbolic language which is characterized by “flowery” expressions and “flattery” (Irimiaş, 2011, p. 170). Irimiaş (2011) emphasizes that stereotyping, which is persistent in the majority of countries, tends to undermine the effectiveness of the cross-cultural communication. The researcher also stresses that ethnocentrism is the most potent barrier to efficient cross-cultural communication as people judge other cultures and values through the lens of their own culture, traditions, and values. This approach often leads to misunderstanding and miscommunication, which negatively affects the work environment and the overall performance of companies.

When it comes to the UAE, Goby, and Nickerson (2015) claim that Emirati people especially those engaged in the private sector understand the importance of the foreign workforce and report their readiness to develop effective cross-cultural communication patterns. This trend is prevalent among people with higher education while less educated people tend to remain quite hostile to expatriates.

Irrespective of the Emirati employees’ attitude towards the foreign workforce, there is a considerable lack of specific skills that could improve the cross-cultural communication within organizations. Goby and Nickerson (2015) add that the country’s policies concerning the Emiratization also contribute to the hostility between people of different cultural backgrounds. Reducing quotas companies face the challenge of expatriates’ hostility and reluctance to communicate and share information with locals. These instances also contribute to the development of stereotypes and misconceptions. Goby and Nickerson (2015) implemented a survey in several Emirati companies and found that more than 60% of local employees (who participated in the study) preferred interacting with locals as they shared a similar cultural background.

This is an example of ethnocentrism as people try to avoid communicating with out-group individuals. Emirati people feel the barriers to cross-cultural communication that are rooted in cultural differences. It is essential to stress that linguistic barriers are almost non-existent in the UAE as Emirati graduates have extensive exposure to the English language, so they are ready to communicate in English.

Efficient cross-cultural communication is also seen as the background of effective leadership. Kamali, Jayashree, and Lindsay (2015) claim that the development of leadership incorporates the focus on cultural dimensions of the cultures involved. The researchers note that Emirati managers work for multinationals have to develop their leadership skills taking into account the cultural peculiarities of employees as well as their supervisors.

More so, Kamali et al. (2015) also stress that Emirati employees (leaders as well as team members and individual employees) lack the necessary skills to develop proper cross-cultural communication patterns, which undermines the leadership models employed. As has been mentioned above, ethnocentrism is one of the most serious issues. Leaders develop their leadership models based on their cultural background, and they expect that other people irrespective of their ethnicity will respond similarly to the strategies utilized. However, leadership methods that are effective in particular cultural contexts often fail due to the difference in values in another cultural context.

Willemyns, Hosie, and Lehaney (2011) also focus on the cross-cultural communication between Emirati employees and western expatriates. The researchers identify two major patterns and note that Emirati people tend to regard western individuals as out-group members due to cultural differences between the local and western people. Many Emirati employees try to avoid interacting with expatriates.

At that, when Emirati individuals had closer relationships with western employees, they saw them as in-group members. These closer ties developed during interaction and collaboration in the working places. Willemyns et al. (2011) note that the organizational culture and the creation of shared identity contribute to the inclusive interaction. The shared identity is referred to as a set of values based on the organizational culture rather than ethnicity.

These findings resonate with Hofstede’s model and unveil the barriers to effective cross-cultural communication. Emirati people, being representatives of the collectivist society, divide people into in- and out-group individuals whereas westerns are focused on the tasks and organizational goals. This difference in values leads to a lack of understanding and deteriorates the work environment.

Cross-Cultural Communication and Hofstede’s Dimensions

Modern researchers often consider cross-cultural communication development in the context of the cultural dimensions. Hofstede developed a six-dimension model that unveils the peculiarities of different nationalities that are relevant in the work environment (Hofstede, 2011). These dimensions focus on such aspects as power distribution, assertiveness, and empathy, attitude towards uncertainty, focus on personal or groups’ goals.

The dimensions are briefly considered above. Importantly, Hofstede, Hofstede, and Minkov (2010) claim that cultural values are deeply rooted in the way people brought up as well as their identity and even the place they live in. These values have quite a specific effect on their behavior including their conduct in the work environment. These cultural differences bring barriers to interpersonal and intra-organizational communication, which undermines the development of organizations and their competitiveness.

Hofstede’s dimensions have acquired significant attention and are often applied when addressing issues associated with internal communication. Kamali et al. (2015) analyze the peculiarities of the UAE in terms of Hofstede’s model and state that the Emirati society has high scores in such dimensions as power distance, uncertainty avoidance, collectivism, and masculinity. The researchers evaluate some leadership development models shaped in terms of the Emirati cultural peculiarities. Managers who take up responsibilities and often become leaders of the group stress that communication is essential. However, they often fail to develop proper communication strategies.

Thus, western managers often focus on goals, which are less relevant in such high-context societies as the UAE (Kamali et al., 2015). Emirati people value interpersonal relationships and connectedness while these aspects are often neglected by western expatriates. Emirati employees also value quite a rigid hierarchy, and the issues of authority are quite essential. At the same time, Western managers often try to develop less hierarchical divisions within the organization and departments.

Clearly, such different approaches to essential issues (associated with power distribution, authority, and communication) negatively affect the work environment and employees’ motivation and performance. Kamali et al. (2015) emphasize that managers should pay more attention to cultural dimensions and shape their leadership approaches accordingly, which will improve the employees’ and the overall organization’s performance.

Cultural differences are regarded as significant barriers to cross-cultural communication. Kawar (2012) provides a brief analysis of these barriers in terms of the cultural dimensions. The researcher concentrates on such dimensions as power distance, collectivism/individualism, uncertainty avoidance, and masculinity/femininity. Notably, the author pays quite a significant attention to space and the way people of different cultures perceive it. The author stresses that managers should develop proper cultural intelligence, which implies the awareness of the cultural peculiarities and ability to use them when developing communication patterns.

Kawar (2012) also identifies major areas employees should take into account. These aspects include time focus (polychromic / monochromic), time orientation (past / present / future), power (equality / hierarchy), competitiveness, activity (being / doing), space (public / private), communication (high-context / low-context), and structure (collectivism / individualism).

Kawar (2012) identifies the following areas within the scope of cultural intelligence: linguistic, spatial, intrapersonal and interpersonal intelligence. In the Emirati context, linguistic intelligence is achieved through education as local employees are fluent in English. Spatial intelligence is associated with the use of space during discussions and meetings. Intrapersonal communication involves “awareness of one’s cultural style in order to make adjustments to international counterparts” (Kawar, 2012, p. 107). Interpersonal intelligence is referred to as the ability to comprehend people’s motivations.

The communication strategies should be aligned with the cultural peculiarities of the stakeholders involved. Those who have the cultural intelligence are often capable of developing appropriate cross-cultural communication channels. Kawar (2012) also states that many organizations tend to have some status quo when it comes to cross-cultural communication. Managers should accept the status quo to form appropriate communication patterns. Effective patterns positively affect the work environment while inefficient communication deteriorates people’s motivation and performance.

Biatas (2009) also analyzes effective communication strategies employed in multinationals. The author concentrates on the power distance dimension. Biatas (2009) claims that there are significant differences between societies in the so-called western world. Thus, French and Swedish people have different values as related to power distribution. Thus, Swedish people prefer more egalitarian relations while French employees value strict hierarchies.

Furthermore, French supervisors are mainly reluctant to empower employees and employees are less likely to question managers’ decisions. Swedish employees do not like rigid hierarchies and value equality in power distribution, which translates into the empowerment of team members. These findings are of paramount importance when considering cross-cultural communication in the Emirati context. It is not enough to consider cross-cultural communication between Emirati people and Western employees. It can be more effective to consider each nationality separately to develop the most efficient communication patterns as well as organizational culture. This approach is especially true for multinationals (with headquarters in particular countries) operating in the UAE.

Apart from purely interpersonal and intra-organizational issues, researchers also stress the influence of particular communication tools used. Media are now playing a significant role in the development of proper communication patterns. Thus, Toprak and Genc-Kumtepe (2014) note that email is an effective and sometimes preferred type of communication in multinationals. It is stressed that face-to-face discussions are often less effective due to the existence of stereotypes and miscommunication as well as the misunderstanding among the stakeholders. The researchers evaluated the way representatives of some cultural groups participate in international projects. Toprak and Genc-Kumtepe (2014) focused on such dimensions as power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism, and masculinity.

Email is seen as the preferred medium of communication. Employees report fewer cases of miscommunication compared to face-to-face discussions. This trend occurs as written messages are quite short and precise with no additional cues that appear during face-to-face communication (including but not confined to non-verbal cues and linguistic issues). Clearly, media play an important role in the development of cross-cultural communication, and, hence, the media should be carefully chosen when it comes to training aimed at the development of cross-cultural communication.

Gamification and Cross-Cultural Communication

As has been mentioned above gamification is regarded as one of the most effective ways to develop employees’ motivation and certain skills. Richter, Raban, and Rafaeli (2014) claim that gamification can be considered in terms of various theoretical frameworks depending on the focus of the analysis. Richter et al. (2014) argue that the application of theories is crucial for the understanding of the ways gamification can improve employees’ motivation and performance. Theories are instrumental when identifying the most appropriate features games should have in this or that context.

The researchers provide some frameworks for applying several theories to the use of games in the commercial environment. Richter et al. (2014) emphasize the importance of rewards and scoring systems that help employees to remain motivated and engaged. Importantly, the researchers note that some games and scoring systems may have an opposite effect and lead to the employees’ fatigue. Gamification increases employees’ involvement and motivation as such needs as self-actualization, self-esteem, and belonging are satisfied. The study unveils some pitfalls of the use of games in the work environment.

Gamification can also positively affect the development (as well as change) of the organizational culture. This tool is instrumental in the improvement of knowledge sharing within the organization (Wellington, 2014). It has been acknowledged that effective knowledge sharing practices contribute to the development and maintenance of organizational culture. Some games are used to introduce some features of the organization’s culture to employees.

However, games can also facilitate the development of particular beliefs and attitudes related to the work environment. In this way, games can help employees develop common values consistent with the organizational goals, which is essential for the proper development of the company. It is noteworthy that little attention is paid to the use of gamification in the training associated with cross-cultural development. For instance, Al-Khouri (2014) mentions the benefits of gamification for internal communication, but the author still focuses on knowledge sharing rather than communication.

When it comes to cross-cultural communication, other training strategies are utilized. Apart from formal training tools, researchers employ numerous less conventional methods. For example, Briam (2010) claims that watching specific movies can be an effective training strategy to develop cross-cultural communication. One of these movies is Outsourcing (2006), and Briam (2010) notes that watching and discussing it helps people understand cultures, as well as cross-cultural communication, better.

The researcher also identifies a number of features of a successful film for such purposes. Thus, it should demonstrate concepts, “avoid simplistic cultural caricatures,” have a definite connection to the business environment, have a connection with the Arabic or Emirati (as well as other) culture, “provide a cross-cultural experience,” and motivate (Briam, 2010, p. 386). These findings have a critical significance for the development of training associated with the cross-cultural communication as it can help choose the most appropriate training methods. The developers of games and employees responsible for choosing the gaming tools for companies may benefit from these data.

Games should be engaging and enjoyable, user-friendly, and they should not have simplistic and stereotypical descriptions of cultures. The provision of cross-cultural experience is also brought to the fore as each game should expose the players to considering various issues associated with the cross-cultural communication. In other words, simple learning of major features of particular cultures may have little effect as employees are likely to be unable to apply this knowledge in their job settings.

Another efficient type of media is the mobile platform. Elciyar (2015) states that the use of mobile games can be highly efficient as it is engaging and convenient. Mobile devices have become widely used in the entire world (as well as the UAE). Elciyar (2015) explores the way mobile games can be used in advertising and development of customers’ loyalty. However, the researcher’s findings can apply to the intra-organizational communication.

It can be beneficial in the sphere of cross-cultural communication, which is closely connected with the use of such media as mobile phones. Mobile games are very convenient to use and often require less time than games played on computers or any other devices. Mobile phones are always available. This convenience can be specifically useful in the context of the private sector companies as employees will be able to play games when commuting to work, or during their lunch-time and so on.

Existing Gaps

As seen from the literature review, cross-cultural communication is considered in detail. Many researchers utilize Hofstede’s model when analyzing the peculiarities of the cross-cultural communication in companies located in Gulf countries (Kamali et al., 2015; Kawar, 2012). At the same time, it is also possible to state that researchers tend to focus on particular aspects of the issue.

Power distance and uncertainty avoidance tend to be the most common dimensions discussed. Collectivism and masculinity are also considered in many studies. At the same time, it is important to take into account all the dimensions to come up with the most efficient communication strategies. The dimensions of the long- or short-term orientation and indulgence/restraint are essential for the understanding and formation of the most efficient cross-cultural communication patterns. It is crucial to understand the way people address their goals and the way they view pleasure and relaxation. These dimensions are also important for designing (and choosing) the most appropriate game to develop internal communication between people of different cultures. The dimension of indulgence/restraint becomes a key aspect as it can help predict the employees’ motivation.

Apart from the focus on some cultural dimensions, there is also a particular division into two cultural groups. As has been mentioned above, researchers often use the division into the Arab and Western worlds. This division can undermine the effectiveness of the communication patterns (as well as training methods) developed. Emirati workforce is highly diverse, and people of many cultural backgrounds have to interact.

Some researchers pay attention to these differences and try to focus on particular cultures rather than the peculiarities of the Western or Arab worlds. For example, Biatas (2009) unveils some cultural differences between different countries. This study shows that it is insufficient to focus on some common features of western and Arabic people. It can be more effective to employ Hofstede’s index of countries when developing and evaluating training programs and existing communication patterns (Hofstede, 2011).

It is necessary to look into Emirati people’s values and specific nations’ values depending on expatriates’ cultural backgrounds. There is a definite lack of studies providing the analysis of the cultural dimension of particular nations in the context of the Emirati business world. Hofstede developed a model and applied it, which resulted in the creation of a specific index. Different European countries have different scores. The same trend is apparent among Arab countries. Thus, when considering the correlation between gamification and cross-cultural communication in the Emirati context, it is essential to take into account the cultural peculiarities of Emirati people. It is also important to mention particular nations rather than using the umbrella notion of the Western world.

The correlation between the organizational culture and the employee’s cultural peculiarities (manifested in cultural dimensions) is also insufficiently highlighted. Researchers acknowledge the importance of the organizational culture for the development of proper communication patterns (Wellington, 2014; Willemyns et al. 2011). At the same time, it is stressed that employees’ motivation as well as interaction within the organization improves due to the improved communication. Researchers also state that the organizational culture is vital for the development of the organization and reaching its goals (Keyton, 2011). Common values unite employees who develop links rooted in the organizational culture. These links are instrumental is in overcoming cultural barriers (Keyton, 2011).

However, it is also clear that the organizational culture is based on the values of a particular society (Biatas, 2009). Thus, cross-cultural communication patterns should be consistent with the organizational culture. At that, it is important to make sure that the organizational culture is consistent with the most critical cultural peculiarities of people employed. For instance, if a multinational company fails to take into account the cultural peculiarities of local employees, it is doomed to fail in that market (Kawar, 2012). At that, there is a lack of particular paradigms that align organizational cultures with cross-cultural communication.

Furthermore, there is a distinct gap associated with the use of gamification when developing cross-cultural communication training. This trend is specifically persistent when it comes to the use of games in Emirati companies. Gamification is utilized to enhance employees’ motivation or improve their performance (Al-Khouri, 2014; Richter et al., 2014). Al-Khouri (2014) states that Emirati companies utilize games to develop internal communication models.

However, no particular attention has been paid to the use of gamification when it comes to cross-cultural communication. There is evidence that many Emirati companies acknowledge the benefits of the gamification tools but still resort to more formal training patterns when it comes to cross-cultural communication. Thus, there is a distinct need for studies aimed at analyzing the use of games related to cross-cultural communication in Emirati companies. These studies should focus on such aspects as choosing games, playing and the outcomes of the use of games. Emirati employees’ perspectives on the use of games should be central to these studies.

Finally, there is a gap in the literature when it comes to the media used. Games can be played through various devices (computers, laptops, mobile phones and so on). The way employees play the games can also be critical as it can have an impact on the players’ motivation and the level of their engagement. Elciyar (2015) considers the use of mobile phones and reveals the benefits of this approach. However, it is still unclear which tools are chosen in the context of Emirati private-sector companies. Of course, cultural peculiarities of Emirati people may affect their attitude towards different types of technology, which unveils the need to analyze Emirati employees’ preferences. These studies will be instrumental in identifying the most efficient media, which, in its turn, will positively affect the internal communication and the performance of companies.


Research Philosophy

This study is deeply rooted in the positivist philosophy. The positivist approach is based on the belief that the world is objective, and any subjective opinions should be eliminated from scientific research (Chambliss & Schutt, 2013). It is stressed that every assumption and theory should have valid and sufficient evidence. Therefore, the major approach used within this philosophical framework is quantitative as it enables us to obtain particular data to support or refute hypotheses. Therefore, when addressing the goals of this study, it is important to focus on the ways Emirati nationals and expatriates see certain concepts, as well as practices existing in the organizations, to identify their attitudes towards the effects of gamification on the cross-cultural communication in their companies.

Research Overview

As has been mentioned above, this study concentrates on the correlation between the use of gamification and cross-cultural communication in the context of Emirati private-sector companies located in Dubai. A specific focus of the study is the identification of employees’ attitudes towards the use of games aimed at the development of efficient cross-cultural communication patterns. It is crucial to understand people’s perspectives to estimate the ways gamification can be used and predict its effectiveness as employees’ commitment and positive attitude are instrumental in the process. The particular interest is the impact gamification may have on the cross-cultural communication within organizations, employees’ performance, motivation, and engagement as seen by Emirati employees.

Research Approach

This study aims at unveiling people’s attitudes towards the use of gamification in the work context. This research also focuses on the extent to which gamification is used in Emirati companies and whether it is perceived as mainly positive or negative. Therefore, the quantitative approach was chosen for this study. This approach enables the researcher to elicit the participants’ ideas on the matter and estimate the extent to which the trend persists in the specific context (Chambliss & Schutt, 2013). It provides generalizable data free from any bias.

Data Collection and Analysis

Variables. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the correlation between gamification and employees’ performance and motivation as seen by the employees. Therefore, the independent variable utilized in this study was the use of gamification. The dependent variable was the cross-cultural communication. The cross-cultural communication was evaluated in terms of changes that occurred in the communication patterns as well as the degree of interaction between Emirati nationals and expatriates.

Sampling. The study focuses on the cross-cultural communication in private-sector companies located in Dubai. Hence, the participants included Emirati nationals and expatriates working for private-owned companies that were located in Dubai. The stratified random sampling was used as a sampling method as it minimized bias and associated threats to validity (Chambliss & Schutt, 2013). The samples included people between 22 and 40 years old. This age group was chosen as it represented the cohort of people who were most exposed to cross-cultural interactions within companies.

The population also had the necessary knowledge and skills (fluency in English, professional skills, participation in projects) to take part in various training sessions (including games). This population mainly includes people who are accustomed to using different media (the Internet, social networks, mobile devices and so on). This is important as gamification is often associated with the use of technology. It is essential to eliminate negative attitudes based on the lack of skills or reluctance to use technology. More so, the structure of the study also required certain skills as the participants had to respond to online survey questions. The communication with the researcher (soliciting participants, written consent forms, and so on) was held via email.

Furthermore, subordinates and supervisors, as well as Internal Communication Specialists, took part in the study. The three groups of employees were chosen to identify the differences between the perception of people in different positions. Thus, it was possible to examine features valued by HR specialists who chose games and encouraged employees to participate as well as employees who completed tasks or supervised other people’s performance. Different levels of subordination helped unveil the barriers and positive outcomes of the use of gamification. The target of the 25% return sample was met, which ensured that the study was free from the sampling bias.

Instruments. The quantitative cross-sectional survey method was chosen as it enabled to elicit particular ideas on the matter within a comparatively short period of time. The samples were solicited through emails. The written consent was also obtained through this media. The questionnaires were based on the Likert scale, which enabled the researcher to analyze the data easily. It was also comfortable for the participants to answer questions that did not require rigid yes/no answers as they had to reveal the degree of their agreement with this or that statement. At that, this tool is associated with a significant disadvantage as people may be reluctant to use the options involving rigid ‘strongly agree/disagree’ responses.

However, the participants received notifications (via email) where they were informed about the importance of using all options with specific attention to the ‘strongly agree/disagree’ options as it would have a significant effect on the research results. The analysis of the data was based on the nominal measurement level that presupposes the focus on the most frequent answers and the use of percentages. This method ensured quite an effective way to identify existing patterns.

The survey questions were located on SurveyMonkeys, which was a convenient platform to use for all the samples. The participants could answer the questions provided at any time convenient for them. They could also do that from home or their working places. There was no need to adjust the participants’ timetables. The survey took only up to 15 minutes to answer, which was also convenient for the participants who did not have to invest a lot of their time. The use of the online tool ensured the relaxed atmosphere and precision of the participants.

It is necessary to note that the participants were informed that the results of the survey may have an impact on the HR practices used in the Emirati private sector as the relevance and efficiency of an effective training method was under consideration. The samples were also informed that they could receive the results of the survey for their use in the company, which could potentially affect the development of HR practices at their organizations. These steps motivated many participants to be more precise and pay the necessary attention to the questionnaire. Several participants asked for the results of the survey with a specific focus on the data concerning the way gamification affected employees’ performance and motivation.

The participants answered 20 survey questions that focused on the employees’ attitudes towards the use of games, the benefits, and disadvantages of this method as related to cross-cultural communication. The participants evaluated the use of games in their companies and the way they affected their performance and the overall organizations’ performance. The questions also addressed the particular features of games that the participants could value. It is necessary to stress that the questions focused on the participants’ opinions, which enabled them to respond sincerely and precisely. The focus on attitudes was critical to the purpose of the study as it was important to identify the degree employees are ready, willing or reluctant to play games to achieve goals related to cross-cultural communication.

Reliability, Validity, and Generalizability. This study was based on the quantitative approach that enabled the researcher to obtain generalizable and reliable data. The sample size is sufficient to develop a valid conclusion on the extent to which gamification correlates with cross-cultural communication and the way this correlation is perceived in the Emirati private-owned companies. The use of the Lickert scale ensures that the conclusions made are valid and reliable since the scale enables researchers to measure people’s attitudes towards various events, concepts and so on. The sample is diverse as people of different ages, genders and backgrounds are included, which enhances the validity of the data collected.

The stratified random sampling ensures the validity of the research as any bias is eliminated. The generalizability of the data is quite high as the sample is diverse and major stakeholders are included. The data obtained can be generalized and applied in the context of Dubai private sector. However, the results can be less generalizable as regards the overall Emirati context.

It is necessary to note that the research is rather valid although some threats to the internal validity are present. For instance, the sampling bias is still apparent irrespective of the steps undertaken to mitigate it. The random selection ensures the minimization of the bias, but the diversity of participants is difficult to ensure in the Emirati context. The number of female participants is lower than that of male respondents. The John Henry effect also poses certain threats to the internal validity of the study. Thus, the samples understand that they participate in research and may try to adjust their answers to the desired model as seen by the employees.

Thus, the participants may want to seem more positive (or negative) about the idea of gamification and cross-cultural communication, which depends on the culture of the company they work for. This threat is addressed through a short note on the importance of sincere answers and the hazards associated with distorted data.

Ethics and Limitations. As for ethical considerations, the confidentiality and anonymity of the participants were ensured through coding. The researcher emphasized that the questionnaires or their answers would not be provided to the employees or any other third parties, and the responses would not hurt participants’ careers. As has been mentioned above, the participants could get the study results, but those data would not violate any rights.

The participants obtained written consent forms through emails and returned the signed forms through their emails. The consent forms included a description of the purpose of the study and the major concepts used. This information ensured that the participants were aware of the topic discussed and properly understood the task. The questions were designed with the focus on the participants’ rights, values, and interests. No prejudice or stereotypes were present in the questions. The employees’ answers could not be regarded as unethical or biased.

As far as the limitations of the study are concerned, it is necessary to note that the data can be generalized to the private-owned companies operating in Dubai. However, they cannot be applicable to the overall Emirati private sector. It is necessary to note that Dubai is one of the most attractive locations for international business, and many multinationals have worked there for decades. This historical background may shape the results as people living in Dubai may be more accustomed to cross-cultural interactions than inhabitants of other emirates.

The data can also be less applicable in such sectors as public-owned companies or governmental organizations due to the differences between the three types of organizations, as well as their goals, vision, and missions. However, the major goal of the study is to examine the opinions of people working for private-owned companies located in Dubai, which can be achieved.

Another limitation is associated with the nature of the quantitative approach. The quantitative method implies quite rigid boundaries of the inquiry. In other words, the participants address the areas mentioned in the survey, while such important factors as the reasons behind the particular thinking are left unanswered. It remains unclear whether the personal experiences of people or practices existing in their companies could affect their perspectives. However, the research focuses on people’s attitudes rather than the background for the opinions. Hence, the method chosen is valid for the study.

One more common limitation of the quantitative research is the excessive generalizability of the data. Thus, some researchers argue that the data obtained through the quantitative inquiries can be too general to be applicable in the context of a particular organization (Chambliss & Schutt, 2013). However, this research focuses on quite a specific area (private-sector companies located in Dubai), which helps address the limitation mentioned.

The modern business world is globalized, and many companies employ similar tools. More so, companies often have a similar vision and organizational culture based on the principles of responsibility, empowerment, egalitarian values and so on. Therefore, many Emirati companies share certain values, which means that employees often accept (or, at least, comply with) certain organizational values. Thus, it is possible to note that the attitudes towards cross-cultural communication and gamification are likely to be generalizable in the context of the Emirati private-owned companies.

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