Expatriate leadership competencies and performance: A qualitative study

Hanan Almazrouei, Robert Zacca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate leadership competencies of expatriate managers working within the UAE and identify if these competencies are unique from those needed in their home country. Additionally, the paper aims to identify how new competencies expatriate leaders have developed while in their current position and how this enhances their ability to better manage staff in the UAE. Leadership competencies are skills and behaviors that contribute to enhanced performance.  While some leadership competencies are essential to all firms, some distinctive leadership attributes may be particularly relevant to organizations possessing a large expatriate community. Design/methodology/approach – Personal interviews and stratified sampling were used to examine the qualities and skills relating to expatriate managers’ success in leading UAE organizations. The research design did not differentiate between the origins and ethnicities of the leaders. The leaders, whether American, European, Indo-Pakistani or Asian, were treated as one entity. Findings – Factors such as communication ability, team building qualities and ability to handle local nationals were found to have a significant effect on expatriate adjustment and success in managing UAE organizations. Practical implications – By investigating specific competencies and skills that expatriate managers need to lead organizations in the UAE and the broader Gulf region, the study informs organizations on how they can better identify and develop leadership skills that lead to enhanced performance. Originality/value – The study focuses on leadership competencies within the expatriate community of the UAE.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)404-424
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Organizational Analysis
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 13 2015


  • Competencies
  • Cross-cultural management
  • Expatriate
  • Leadership
  • Performance
  • Qualitative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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