Expatriate managers decision-making practices within the UAE: a qualitative study

Hanan AlMazrouei, Robert Zacca, Chris Bilney, Giselle Antoine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Managing across cultures is vital for international business success. Leaders need to make decisions in a way that suits the new culture in which they are placed. This paper aims to explore how expatriate managers in the UAE make decisions in respect to their contextual environment. Additionally, the study investigates the approaches expatriate managers use to adjust their decision-making and how they manage local staff in contrast to home country staff. Finally, the study investigates the factors that contribute to the situation-specific environment of the expatriate leaders’ experience. Design/methodology/approach: Structured personal interviews of expatriates drawn from stratified sampling were used to discover the styles of decision-making that were effective in the UAE. Findings: The consultative management style of management enhanced by a hybrid approach of melding the strongest aspects of the expatriates’ decision-making style with the strongest aspects of the local decision-making style met with much success managing in the UAE. Additionally, the expatriate managers’ expression of appreciation towards local staff provided motivation and encouraged cooperation. Moreover, it was found that expatriates can face difficulties in expressing their wishes and requirements accurately to local staff because of their unfamiliarity with the Arabic language. Practical implications: This research provides practical guidance for expatriate managers charged with successfully leading organizations in UAE. It also offers guidance for employers seeking to recruit or employ appropriate management talent to UAE. Originality/value: The paper concentrates on expatriate managers’ decision-making practices within the UAE.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)856-882
Number of pages27
JournalInternational Journal of Organizational Analysis
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Cross cultural studies
  • Decision making
  • Expatriate
  • International management
  • Qualitative research
  • UAE

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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