Managing Impatriate Adjustment as a Core Human Resource Management Challenge

By Al-Rajhi, Ibrabim; Altman, Yochanan et al. | Human Resource Planning, December 2006 | Go to article overview

Managing Impatriate Adjustment as a Core Human Resource Management Challenge


Al-Rajhi, Ibrabim, Altman, Yochanan, Metcalfe, Beverly, Roussel, Josse, Human Resource Planning


Although expatriation issues are at the core of international human resource management (HRM) practice and discourse, impatriation (hiring foreign nationals for fixed-term temporary employment) is as yet underresearched. This is true even though several economies, many of them in the Middle East, rely heavily on impatriates to develop and sustain their economies. This article presents the case of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) as an example of such an economy, and proposes a model of impatriate adjustment, followed by a case study and with specific reference to HRM implications.

Globalisation, and the impact that globalisation has had on the practice and theory of management and of the management of people, has attracted increasing interest among scholars and practitioners alike (Sparrow, et al., 2004; Global Relocation Services, 2004; Frenkel, 2006). Within international HRM scholarship, limited research has evaluated HRM systems and practices within Middle Eastern economies (for an exception see Ali, 1995; 1999). This is a major oversight for a region that is at the core of the world economy, offers unparalleled growth opportunities for foreign investment (Rice, 2004), and contributes significantly to world trade (World Bank, 2003; Wilson, 2001; Kavossi, 2000).

In their quest for rapid and sustainable economic development, many of the region's countries have come to rely heavily on temporary migrant workers: the Gulf economies in particular (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar) as well as Libya. This phenomenon is not new. Many Western developed countries have relied for a long time on temporary migrant workers in times of skill shortage or to carry out lowly, menial, and undesired jobs; however, the extent of their deployment in the Middle East is considerably higher. The presence of impatriates in this region has in fact outgrown the indigenous workforce, and typically represents a majority. In most of the Gulf countries, over 60 percent of the working population is foreign (Ruppert, 1998; World Bank, 2003), with the largest number of impatriates in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

By presenting the case of the Kingdom of Saudi-Arabia we draw attention to an important feature of the labour markets in the Middle East. We first outline the characteristics of the labour market in the KSA that have necessitated a national level response to human resource management and labour market reform. We then propose a development model for managing the adjustment of impatriates in heavily dependent economies at the national and corporate level. This, to the best of our knowledge, is the first such proposed model. The research literature often addresses adjustment issues of expatriates (typically, the individual middle-to-senior executive from a developed economy posted to another developed economy as well as to developing or transitional economies for a limited period). This article explores the role of impatriates: foreign employees recruited by local companies at all organisational and skill levels, typically for a particular position, usually over a fixed-term period. We highlight in particular implications for the HR function in organisations in which the majority of employees are temporary migrant workers. We suggest that HR has an important and overlooked role with respect to facilitating the successful cultural and work adjustment of impatriates, including enhancing their productivity and well being. We end with a case study to help us reflect the model against prevalent practice.

Demographics of the Labour Market in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

The Saudi Ministry of Labour estimated there were approximately seven million foreign workers in Saudi Arabia in 2003, making up almost one-third of Saudi Arabia's total population of about 23 million. Expatriate labour across all occupations and skill levels constituted around two-thirds of the total workforce in 2003 (Pakkiasamy, 2004). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Managing Impatriate Adjustment as a Core Human Resource Management Challenge
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.