Expatriates assignments are very important for any company that has operations in foreign nations. This is attributable to the fact that such assignments are used for the purpose of collecting data that can be used in boosting the productivity of the concerned multinational company (Bizumic & Duckitt, 2007). In spite of this, concerns have been raised regarding the appropriate formula that ought to be adopted for a chance to ensure that expatriates are successful in their projects. Empirical evidence shows that the majority of expatriates’ missions fail, which is attributable to a number of factors such as the lack of enough preparation for the assignment, poor selection, problems associated with adjusting to the host country, as well as improper consideration of the role of women in international assignments (Crano & Prislin, 2006). On the other hand, there are some concerns that lack of cooperation and prejudice exercised by the nationals of the host country is to blame for the high number of failures in expatriate assignment.
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Several studies have been carried out to examine the relationship between host country nationals and expatriates especially in areas such as the differences that exit between expatriates and the nationals of the host country, the duty of the nationals of the host country in ensuring that the expatriates adjust and perform accordingly, as well as the attitudes of the host country’s nationals towards the expatriates (Bizumic & Duckitt, 2007; Wang, 2008). Expatriates and host country’s nationals may differ in a number of aspects such as managerial practices, value, language, culture, business ethics, and work styles. Such differences are very important since they can be used as primary sources of diverse attitudes towards the expatriates. This is attributable to the fact that the identified differences can have adverse impacts on the operations of the expatriates especially in terms of hindering effective communication (Perreault & Bourhis, 2010).
Considering the role that the nationals of the host country can have in the facilitation of smooth operations of the expatriates, there is a need for thorough studies that examine deeply this concept. For this reason, this study seeks to examine the characteristics of the nationals of the host country and their willingness to help expatriates at workplace with a specific focus on the case of United Arabs Emirates (UAE).
Statement of the problem
The lack of cooperation between expatriates and host country’s nationals can adverse impacts on the success of any international assignment. This can be attributed to the fact that the expatriates are in need of the nationals of the host country to adjust as well as help them carry out their projects as required through the provision of assistance in aspects such as communication (Wang, 2008). However, if the problem of lack of cooperation between these groups of people persist, international assignments are likely to lose their intended meaning since there is a high probability of most of them failing in absence of such cooperation. Nevertheless, this problem can be solved through carrying out an in-depth analysis of the willingness of host nationals to help expatriates, as well as understanding the various attitudes that people in the host country have towards the expatriates.
Objectives of the study
Following the numerous concerns on the role of nationals of host country in the success of expatriates, this study undertakes to carry out an in-depth analysis to identify various characteristics of host country’s nationals and whether or not they are often willing to help any expatriates in their organizations. As such, the study has the following objectives.
- To develop a profile of the host country nationals characteristics and willingness to help expatriates in the workplace.
- To find out the significant differences, if any, between male and female host country nationals characteristics and willingness to help expatriates
The study has several questions that it seeks to answer in order to achieve the above research objectives. The study’s research questions include:
- Is there a significant relationship between host country national characteristics (social support, information role, categorization, collectivism, ethnocentrism, and perceived value similarity) and their willingness to help?
- Are there any significant differences between the male and female host country nationals’ characteristics and willingness to help expatriates?
The rest of the paper is divided into five sections including the literature review, methodology, results and discussion, conclusions, and the implications and limitations of the study. The literature review provides a comprehensive examination of the subject of HCNs characteristics and their role in expatriates’ projects success or failure. This review is based on past studies that cover the study phenomenon under investigation with respect to the case of UAE.
The findings from the literature review are compared with the survey results in the discussion section. Secondly, the methodology section highlights the approaches adopted in the collection and analysis of the required data for the study. The third section covers the results from the questionnaire responses, as well as an-depth evaluation of the results with respect to the literature review’s findings. The conclusions section summarizes the entire study, while any challenges faced and implications of the study findings are covered in the section on implications and limitations of the study.
The increased demand for international assignments has led to a need for the examination of the rate of success and failures of such projects alongside the factor that influence their productivity. Concerns have been raised over the attitudes of the nationals of host countries towards the expatriates and what their role is regarding the success of international assignments (Crano & Prislin, 2006). While there are thoughts that the behaviors and attitudes of HCNs can be instrumental in the definition of expatriates’ success and failure, empirical evidence shows that, their willingness to assist them is not guaranteed as they consider them to be outsiders (Wang, 2008). The implication from such revelation is that expatriates are likely to get limited information to help them accomplish their assignments. This section provides an in-depth analysis of this subject with a specific focus on UAE as the host country.
The concept of expatriation
Expatriates are defined as employees that are send on international missions to countries other than theirs for the purpose of collect various data about specific aspects of the host country’s organization. As such, expatriates can be considered to play a very important role for multinational organization including the exertion of control in subsidiary organizations, ensuring coordination and integration of the organization’s independent units as well as transfer of knowledge. The advent of globalization has increased the popularity of expatriation in terms of the development of global business insight alongside intercultural competence is concerned (Wang, 2008).
Cross-cultural adjustment plays a significant role in the success or failures of expatriates’ assignments. If they face a lot of challenges adjusting to the culture of the host country, the chances are high that the projects would be prematurely terminated. Past studies have indicated that the premature return of expatriate is a risky move for any given international assignment. In spite of the fact that expatriates can accomplish as assignment given to them within a certain period, the problems that they face have adverse impacts on their general performance during the expatriation period (Wang, 2008). Such a scenario can be attributed to the fact that numerous problems reduce the morale and commitment of the expatriates (Stahl et al., 2009). While problems that expatriates face adjusting to the culture of the host country is one of the major factors that accounts for their premature return, empirical evidence shows that their turnover based on a few years has been a common phenomenon that tends to affect the rate of success of the expatriation process.
The attitudes of the nationals of the host country alongside their willingness to help the expatriates have been considered to be a significant contributor to the failure and success of expatriates’ missions. There are various descriptions to the term attitude, and which may change over time. In spite of this, the primary construct of attitude entails the thought that attitudes form the fundamental base for evaluations. According to Crano and Prislin (2006), attitudes can be considered to be an evaluative integration effects as well as cognitions relative to a given object. As such, attitudes can be considered to influence the behaviors of different individuals regarding their perspective towards various aspects of the world.
For this reason, they can be considered to be highly instrumental in the formation of bias perception of particular objectives. This can be attributed to the fact that cognitive component of any individual focuses on expressing the beliefs that a person has regarding a particular object or subject. According to a study carried out by Ajzen (2005), attitudes can be measured with respect to the negative and positive evaluations of a specific object or subject. In general, attitudes can be considered to have basis on affects, perceptions, as well as beliefs. Based on the fact that beliefs and perceptions form the major background for the attitude that nationals of host countries have towards expatriates, it is important to examine the perceptions and beliefs of such attitudes as well as well as the behaviors of expatriates.
A study carried out by Takeuchi (2010) found out that nationals of host country are very instrumental in the success of expatriates’ assignment. In addition, the attitudes that the HCNs have towards the expatriates determine their level of cooperation and treatment to them. However, the strength and direction of such attitudes and treatment can have diverse impacts on the expatriation process. This is attributed to the fact that HCNs’ attitude can either lead to the complication of the entire process or its facilitation depending on the weight of the perceptions. For instance, in an event that the attitudes of the HCNs are negative, it is more likely that the process of adjusting to the host country’s culture will be negatively affected.
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In addition, the willingness to help and the attitudes of the nationals of the host country towards the expatriates can influence their performance appraisal. This is attributable to the fact that negative attitudes among the HCNs can have detrimental effects on the process of expatriation especially in a case where the nationals of the host country are not supportive of their socialization as well as the process of adjusting to the host country’s culture (Bizumic & Duckitt, 2007). As such, in spite of the quality of work carried out by the expatriates, the chances are high that the performance appraisal for them might be negative hence, affecting the significance of the expatriation’s objectives.
In spite of the significance contribution of the nationals of host country towards the success or failure of expatriates’ assignments, Takeuchi (2010) noted that such individuals are rarely recognized.
Categorization of expatriates by HCNs
Empirical research has shown that individuals have a high tendency of grouping themselves into various categories for the purpose of understanding the specific behaviors to adopt depending on various social contexts (Toh & DeNisi, 2007). When examined from the cognitive aspect, the categorization of other individuals is instrumental in helping the ascription of people to specific traits as well as qualities, for the purpose of deciding the individuals’ reaction towards others (Bizumic & Duckitt, 2007). In addition, such categorization is commonly used in the assignment of different status to other such as out-group or in-group. Such assignment of status is very instrumental in guiding the behavior of individuals towards others. It is more likely that positive reaction is evident in cases where people identify in-group status with the expatriates while negative behaviors are common in cases of out-group categorization. Based on this theoretical perspective, the chances are high that expatriates are considered out-groups.
Considering the host country’s organizations, a number of factors influence the probability that expatriates are labeled as out-group. In most of the cases, several features that account for the subgroup identity with the significant one being their nationality influence the categorization of expatriates as out-group (Toh & DeNisi, 2007). In addition, previous studies have shown that the availability of unique characteristics is responsible for group categorization since such features lead to the consideration of individuals’ identity as salient. Some of the significant characteristics in this case, include a person’s place of origin, their gender, as well as race.
Evidently, expatriates and the nationals of host country are more likely to differ based on various principles regarding their nationality. In addition, where the differentiating category is salient, there is a high probability that individuals differing from the focal person based on the given category are also considered to be out-group (Takeuchi, 2010). The implication from such a scenario is that individuals who share similar attributes are categorized as in-group. For example, the chances are high that individuals in similar sex HCN-expatriate dyads are less likely to be categorized as out-group members. Theoretically, females are likely to group male expatriates as out-group. In the same way, the males have a high probability of considering female expatriates as out-group members.
Factors affecting the attitudes of HCNs towards expatriates
The attitudes of host country nationals towards the expatriates are influenced by numerous factors. In spite of this, there is limited research that covers this subject and hence, to examine the concept of expatriation and the willingness of the HCNs to help the expatriates, diversity management literature alongside the general social psychology literature is used.
There are numerous concerns raised regarding the link between attitudes and personality of the host country nationals towards foreigners and minorities in an organization. Such concerns have been linked to issues of prejudice and racism (Toh & DeNisi, 2007). Considering this assertion, it is more likely that a few aspects of personality are important in the creation of relevant platforms for the development of attitudes towards expatriates in an organization. Openness to experience has been considered to be a significant dimension of personality.
As such, individuals who are high in openness to experience have the higher chances of adapting easily to new ideas as well as lifestyles in any environment that they are in. Additionally, such individuals tend to be low in terms of conservativeness to political ideology. Generally, there is a negative correlation between aversive racism and openness to experience, which explains why people high in openness to experience are more likely to succeed in new environments as compared to people who are low in openness to experience (Takeuchi, 2010). On the other hand, individuals who are low in openness experience, tend to suffer from indirect prejudice in the workplace. A study carried out by Flynn (2005) found out that whites who were high in openness to experience were less likely to base their arguments on black stereotypes, while at the same time being highly open to stereotype-disconfirming information.
In a case where the nationals of the host country are open to experience, Wang (2008) noted that the chances are high that such individuals are likely to adjust their interaction with the expatriates. This is attributable to the fact that such individuals tend to be comfortable when working with expatriates since they are eager to learn new culture, working styles, business ethics, as well as new language.
The attitudes that host country’s nationals have towards expatriates are often based on the fact that people have differences in various aspects including nationality. For this reason, there is a positive correlation between racial identity, autonomy, and attitudes towards diversity (Toh & DeNisi, 2007). It is more likely that positive attitudes among nationals of host country with regard to diversity would lead to positive attitudes toward expatriates. On the other hand, negative attitudes are characteristic of turnover intention, high absenteeism, and low commitment to organizational goals and objectives.
Another factor that affects the attitudes that HCNs have towards expatriates is ethnocentrism, which is described as the self-centeredness in an ethnic group that leads to the negativity of the out-group members. According to Perreault and Bournis (2010), ethnocentrism at high levels leads to high chances of in-group categorization as well as the description against other others. For this reason, it is more likely that individuals with high levels of ethnocentrism have negative attitudes towards individuals from other nations.
The contribution of HCNs towards the expatriation process
The nationals of host country play a significant role towards the expatriation process. however, their contribution is influenced by a number of factors such as the various differences that exist between expatriates and HCNs and their attitudes towards one another. As pointed out earlier, expatiates and host country’s nationals differ in terms of culture, language, ethics in business and the working styles (Toh & DeNisi, 2007). In spite of such differences, the nationals of the host country have a duty to accomplish as far as helping the expatriates accomplish their assignments.
This is attributable to the fact that the adjustment to the culture and working styles and business ethics of the host country requires collaboration between the HCNs and the expatriates (Reiche, Kraimer, & Harzing, 2011). The lack of such cooperation would render the expatriation process quite challenging and in some cases, lead to premature return of the expatriates. Some of the important areas in which the contribution of the host country’s nationals is needed include areas such as the evaluation of the performance of the expatriates, mentorship, as well as general support of the entire process. On the other hand, HCNs are important in the facilitation of the expatriates’ adjustment to the host country’s culture. This is attributable to the fact that they act as the socializing agents.
Theoretical perspectives have showed that there is a strong correlation between the attitudes of the HCNs and their behavior around expatriates. In spite of this, Ajzen (2005) pointed out that it is important to note that the behaviors influenced by various attitudes can be either consistent or inconsistent with the attitudes. Several researchers have put a lot of emphasis on the impact of socialization on expatriates’ process of adjusting to foreign culture (Toh & DeNsi, 2007).
As such, it can be considered that the intentions of the nationals of host country to offer social support to any expatriates are significant because they cannot be effective on their own in terms understanding the business ethics, working styles, and culture of host country. This is based on the fact that informational, emotional, and instrumental types of social support are important for the success of any international projects. In a case where the expatriates are categorized as out-groups, the social support provided by the nationals of the host country tends to decrease. As evident in the study carried out by Varma, Toh and Budhwar (2006), the majority of HCNs provide social help to expatriates considered to be in the same social circle.
The choice of the research design to be used in any study determines the reliability of the final results of any given study. Creswell (2009) defined a study design as the systematic plan of actions, which a researcher follows when collecting and analyzing any data for the purpose of achieving a study’s objectives. Several study designs are available, which include the explorative research, the descriptive design, the experimental design, as well as the cross-sectional design. Evidently, a researcher has a wide variety of study designs to choose from, based on the required data and type of study. On the other hand, Kothari (2005) described research methodology as any principles or processes, which a researcher uses in any given study for the purpose of collecting and analyzing the required information for a chance to gain insights about a given business and/or social setting. For this reason, the methodology chapter covers the study design and methodology used to examine the characteristics and willingness of nationals of a host county to help expatriates at workplace.
The primary objective of this study was to examine the characteristics and willingness of nationals of a host county to help expatriates in any organization. As such, the study relied on quantitative information in relation to the performance of expatriates under different organizational conditions. Such data will be supplemented by interviews on a number of selected host country nationals. In order to ensure that the study was comprehensive, two study designs were used, which included the cross-sectional design and the decretive research design.
The choice of the cross-sectional research design was informed by the fact that the study required the identification of tangible evidence regarding the willingness of host nationals to help expatriates. According to Mitchell and Jolly (2010), the descriptive research design is significant for any study as it provides a researcher with a platform to get answers based on any given research phenomenon. As in the case of the current study, there was the need to gauge the role of HCNs’ willingness to help expatriates succeed in their assignments. Additionally, the descriptive design is effective in the collection of reliable data that can be used in drawing inferences as well as recommendations about any given research phenomenon.
The research on the characteristics and willingness of nationals of a host county to help expatriates at workplace was based in UAE and hence, required a large geographical coverage for the collection of reliable data that can be generalized for the entire population of UAE. As pointed out by Mitchell and Jolly (2010), descriptive studies are appropriate in studies that required large amount of data. In spite of this, there were a number of factors that limited the overreliance on this type of study design alone. As such, the cross-sectional study design was used to counter some of the shortcomings of the descriptive research design such as dependence on instrumentation of measurements as well as observation. Therefore, the cross-sectional research design was used in this case as complementary for the purpose of ensuring that the required data was collected.
Study’s target population
The target population in any study describes the units or objects which a researcher intends to use for the purpose of collecting the required data. Since this study used UAE as the host country, the target population was the UAE’s nationals. A study carried out by Creswell (2009) indicated that the subject under investigation as well as the required data determines a study’s target population. As such, the targeted individuals were identified from the sampled organizations in both the public and private sectors.
Out of the target population, a researcher identifies a section to use in the data collection process. Denzin and Lincoln (2008) pointed out that a study’s sample is defined as a subsection of the target population. However, Kothari (2005) noted that the sample to be used for any study ought to be highly representative of the target population if the reliable data is to be obtained. The public and private sectors in UAE formed that sampling frame for this study and hence, represented the working population used in the analysis of the study phenomenon.
The choice of the sampling technique to use in any study is determined by the scope of the study and the type of data required. In the case of this study, the simple random sampling technique was adopted. According to a study carried out by Mitchell and Jolly (2010), the simple random sampling technique ensures that any research is inclusive, which explains its use in this study. This was attributed to the fact that the study focused on covering a wide geographical area, which has many UAE residents. As such, the random sampling technique was instrumental in ensuring that all the sampled residents were given equal opportunity of being included in the study sample. On the other hand, given the nature of this procedure, it was possible to avoid human bias and error categorization in the identification of the study’s sample. Often, whenever administered correctly, the simple random technique ensures that a highly representative sample population is used in any study.
On the other hand, the simple random technique was supplemented with purposive sampling that was used to identify the individuals to be interviewed. Creswell (2009) pointed out that the purposive sampling is highly advantageous as it depends on a researcher’s judgment when selecting the individuals to be included in a survey. The fact that the purposive sampling puts a lot of emphasis on a specific aspect of study was useful in this case, as it ensured the collection of reliable data on the subject of HCNs’ willingness to help expatriates. Therefore, combining the purposive procedure and the simple random technique was important as far as the collection of comprehensive data for the study was concerned.
A sample size is defined as the number of people or units used in a study for the purpose of providing the required data. In most of the cases, the type of data required, the scope of the study, as well as the availability of resources determine the size of the sample to use in a given study. In the case of this study, a sample size of 50 respondents was used.
Data collection and analysis
The research focused on the investigation of the characteristics of nationals of the host county and their willingness to help expatriates in the workplace. Therefore, to achieve the objectives of the study, research questions were developed that acted as the guide hence, providing the platform to be used in search of the required answers. Denzin and Lincoln (2008) pointed out that the researcher, point of data collection, and research strategies influence the choice of the method of data collection used in any study. In the case of the current study, primary sources of data were used where the questionnaire method was adopted in the collection of the required data from the sampled individuals. In addition, questionnaires are effective data collection instruments in that they enable the exploration of personal outcomes, experiences, as well as differences with respect to a given study phenomenon. The collected data was statistically analyzed for a chance to provide answers to the study’s research questions.
Results and Discussion
The sample size used in this case, comprised of 50 study participants who were selected from two governmental organizations in UAE. The ratio of males to females was 1:1. Such consideration was given since there was a need to evaluate the feedback from the study based on gender in order to find out the significant differences, if any, between male and female host country nationals characteristics and willingness to help expatriates.
Age of respondents
The majority of the study participants were aged between 31 and 50 years, while only a small percentage of the total respondents were within the 18-30 years, and above 50 years age brackets. The table below provides a comprehensive summary of the study’s participants as far as their age was concerned.
Table 1: Age of respondents.
Educational of respondents
The educational qualification of the study participants was examined. The majority of the study participants had either a college diploma (40%) or a university degree (36%) with only an insignificant percentage of the total (4%) having PhD as indicated in the table below.
Table 2: Educational qualification.
Length of work experience
The study also examined the work experience of the study participants in terms of years and found out that the majority of them had more than 5 years of work experience.
|Above 15 years||8|
Table 3: Work experience.
The study sought the opinions of the study participants with respect to a number of questions as indicated in the questionnaire in the appendices section. The distributed questionnaires were collected and responses evaluated for a chance to find answers to the research questions. The t-test and SPSS statistical methods of data analysis were used. The primary variables used in this case, included perceived value similarity, ethnocentrism, categorization, role information, social support, as well as the willingness of the HCNs to help expatriates. The table below shows the statistical analysis (mean, standard deviation, reliability coefficient and t-Value (n=50), of the study participants’ responses.
|GENDER||N||Mean||Std. Deviation||t-Value||Significance||Reliability Coefficients|
|Perceived Value Similarity||Female||25||22.7200||4.78296||-0.912||0.366||0.5|
Table 4: Mean, SD, Reliability Coefficient and t-Value (n=50).
|**. Significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).|
|*. Significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).|
In addition, the study examined the existence of a significant relationship between the host country national characteristics and their willingness to help expatriates. The results of the statistical analysis in this case, are shown in the table below.
|Perceived Value |
|Ethnocentrism||Collectivism||Categorization||Role Information||Social Support|
|Perceived Value Similarity||1||-.413**||-0.237||-.444**||-0.175||0.106|
Table 5: Correlations amongst Host Country National Characteristics and Willingness to Help Expatriates (n=50).
|**. Significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).|
|*. Significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).|
According to the analysis above, it is evident that different variables have different roles as far as HCNs’ willingness to help expatriates is concerned. The analysis also indicated that different variables were either negatively or positively correlated with one another. For example, the perceived value similarity was negatively correlated with ethnocentrism, collectivism, categorization, and role information, while it was positively correlated with social support.
Secondly, the ethnocentrism factor was positively correlated with social support, role information, and collectivism, whereas it was negatively correlated with categorization, and perceived value similarity.
Thirdly, the collectivism characteristic of the HCNs was negatively correlated with perceived value similarity role information and social support, while positive correlation was noted in the case of ethnocentrism, and categorization. Categorization, had negative correlation with perceived value similarity, ethnocentrism, role information, and social support, while the positive correlation was recorded in the case of collectivism only.
On the other hand, all the study variables indicated a positive significance when assessed using the t-Test. However, the perceived value similarity and social support variables had a negative t-value implying that there is a statistical significant difference between male and female host country nationals’ perceived value and social support as far as their willingness to help expatriates is concerned.
The study sought to find out whether or not there was a statistical difference between male and female host country nationals characteristics and willingness to help expatriates, as well as whether or not there is a significant relationship between host country national characteristics (social support, information role, categorization, collectivism, ethnocentrism, and perceived value similarity) and their willingness to help.
According to study findings, it was evident that the willingness of the nationals of the host country to help was influenced by a number of factors including social support, information role, categorization, collectivism, ethnocentrism, and perceived value similarity. On the other hand, the study found out that that the male and female host country nationals differed in terms of their willingness to help expatriates based on factors such as social support and the perceived value similarity. From such findings, it can be considered that the attitudes that HCNs have towards expatriates play a significant role in shaping the behavior and perceptions of the nationals of host country of the expatriates. As such, the study fulfilled all the research objectives and answered the research questions.
Implications and Limitations of the Study
The findings from this study are very important in the provision of a platform to understand the role of various characteristics of nationals of host country on the success and failure of expatriates’ assignment. According to the analysis above, the study found out that aspects of social support, categorization, ethnocentrism, perceived value similarity, and collectivism influenced the willingness of the HCNs to help expatriates in their organizations. As such, such realization can be used by multinationals whenever preparing to undertake any international assignments in the future. This is attributable to the fact the knowledge of the different characteristics that positively push nationals of UAE to help expatriates can be used to capitalize on such factors as well as take the necessary measures to deal with any potential problems associated with lack of willingness of the HCNs to help them.
This study had a number of limitations. For example, the study relied on respondents from only two governmental organizations. As such, it would be practically impossible to generalize the findings from this study to cases involving private organizations. In addition, the study used a small sample size of 50, implying that there were challenges achieving the required precision and accuracy in terms of results and findings. Therefore, future studies should consider the use of a relatively large sample size, as well as include study participants from both the private and public sectors for effective generalization of the findings.
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