Cross-cultural communication and the adjustment of Western and non-Western expatriates in multicultural companies: investigating operations in Oman

Al Mahrouqi, Abdullah (2018) Cross-cultural communication and the adjustment of Western and non-Western expatriates in multicultural companies: investigating operations in Oman. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis explores the state of existing knowledge on expatriate work assignments and
matters of adjustment and adaptation as they affect Western, non-Western and host workers
in Arab countries, specifically Oman. The main purpose of the research is to provide an
integrated analysis of expatriate adjustment from the perspectives of Western and, crucially,
non-Western expatriates and their host national counterparts. It offers a critical appreciation
of factors included in Black, Mendenhall, and Oddou's (1991) influential Framework for
International Adjustment (FIA). The thesis identifies weaknesses in the Black et al approach,
drawing insights from more recent literature to consider the dynamics of cross-cultural
interaction and offer a deeper understanding of reciprocal influence, accommodating the
neglected viewpoints of non-Western expatriates and focusing greater attention on host
national attitudes and responses to dealing with Western workers.
This sort of relational approach is rare in this area, as much of the literature talks only about
the Western expatriate experience. A crucial point borne out by this research is that the way
host nationals and expatriates cooperate and interact helps to explain: (i) why host nationals
are often reluctant to integrate with Western expatriates in particular; and (ii) how host
national reluctance can influence the adjustment experience of wider expatriate
communities. These neglected factors were explored by developing an understanding of the
extent to which host nationals interpret differences in culture and forms of behaviour within
and across multinational work groups, and also by investigating host national attitudes
towards unacceptable cultural behaviour on the part of expatriates.
Quantitative and qualitative data on these issues was gathered through a detailed survey,
supplemented by in-depth interviewing. Semi-structured face–to-face interviews were
conducted with 18 expatriates and 22 Omani managers and employees drawn from
petroleum and educational institutions. The results show important differences between
Western and non-Western expatriates in terms of both their sense-making about adjustment
and attitudes and orientations to working with host national Omanis. The research also
highlights significant challenges for the cultural adjustment and workplace effectiveness of
host nationals themselves. These centre on competing ideas about the significance of
religion, customs, traditions, and gender segregation. Cultural novelty emerges as a
significant phenomenon, showing positive links to cultural (social) and work adjustment.
The analysis of these factors demonstrates that Western-centric accounts provide an
inadequate basis for understanding and facilitating multinational work assignments in Oman.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Management
Supervisor's Name: Beirne, Professor Martin
Date of Award: 2018
Depositing User: Mr Abdullah Al Mahrouqi
Unique ID: glathesis:2018-8929
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 03 Apr 2018 12:29
Last Modified: 25 Apr 2018 09:25

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