Effects of Nationality on Job Satisfaction: Domestic versus Expatriate Bank Employees in the United Arab Emirates

Article excerpt

This study examines the influence of nationality of managers (domestic or expatriate) on work satisfaction in the banking industry in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The sample comprised a random sample of 82 bank employees, and that job satisfaction was assessed by the Job Descriptive Index. The study revealed that satisfaction with pay, job characteristics, promotion opportunities, co-workers, and supervisors were associated with the nationality of the manager. Moreover, the domestic bank managers expressed a higher level of satisfaction with pay, job characteristics, promotion opportunities, coworkers and supervisors than their expatriate counterparts. The study attributes these differences to both public policy and local cultural factors.

Introduction

In an increasing competitive global environment brought about by a myriad of social, economic, political, and technological forces, international job mobility is becoming a more common experience for a mounting number of employees. An international business experience may have a number of positive outcomes, including skill acquisition, personal development, and long-term career advancement (Black et al., 1992). However, such an experience is not without drawbacks, including family and social tension associated with expatriate assignments, a lack of respect for acquired skills, loss of status, and reverse culture shock on return (Daily et al., 2000; Caligiuri and Lazarova, 2001; Stahl et al., 2002).

In view of these positive and negative aspects associated with international relocations, individuals must confront a high degree of uncertainty when they are offered a foreign assignment (Bonache, 2005). Therefore, one of the central questions that expatriates have to answer before accepting a foreign assignment is how satisfying will the experience be? This study is an attempt that contributes to answering this question. The study is divided into five sections: The first section provides background information on the context. The second section provides a rationale for the study while the third section reviews the relevant literature and offers a series of hypotheses relating nationality to the five work satisfaction dimensions. The fourth section discusses methods used while the fifth section presents and discusses results. The final section offers conclusions.

The Context

The United Arab Emirates comprises seven emirates: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharajah, Ajman, Ras al-Khaimah, Fujairah and Umm al-Quwain which forms a federation with substantial powers to each emirate. The economy of United Arab Emirates (UAE) is largely dependent on the production and export of oil and gas. Dubai Emirate is a notable exception to this; its economy depends on production of services. Dubai City is a busy international trading area and a major gateway to the Middle East. The UAE became a highly prosperous country after foreign investment began funding the desert-and-coastal nation in 1970s. The country has experienced a sharp rise in its standard of living last three decades.

Manifestations of modernity are evident in UAE 's state of the art transportation and communications systems, world-class hotels and shopping malls, and the presence of a multitude of multinational corporations and expatriate personnel. However, the country still clings to well-entrenched traditions manifested in, inter alia, the sanctity of camels in the lives of UAE nationals, the influence of identity on the material circumstances of life, and the influence of connections on work-related outcomes. Identity in the UAE revolves around which clan or tribe a national belongs to. Family names could bestow consequential social status and the kind of treatment one gets in both public and private business domains.

Over the last three decades, rapid economic expansion created a severe labor shortage that could only be filled by a huge influx of expatriate workers. According to the 2005 census, 78. …