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Workforce localization in emerging Gulf economies: the need to fine‐tune HRM

Ingo Forstenlechner (College of Business and Economics, United Arab Emirates University, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Article publication date: 1 January 2010



This paper sets out to identify HR‐relevant recommendations for workforce localization in the context of emerging Gulf economies. While previous research has focused on topics such as commitment or the influence of stereotypes, this paper aims to suggest concrete steps to help organizations in addressing the full scale of localization from recruitment to retention.


Data were collected predominantly through in‐depth, semi‐structured interviews with HR managers from both the public and private sector.


With a multitude of definitions and approaches to Emiratization, best practices are yet to be established. The paper provides a potential stepping‐stone towards these by identifying some of the adaptations needed to key HR processes to foster localization.

Research limitations/implications

There are difficulties in generalizing the data due to the limited sample size and there were significant difficulties in accessing relevant personnel, with another limitation being the tendency towards socially acceptable responses.

Practical implications

The paper puts forward several recommendations, the realization of which could positively influence the chances for successful localization – as opposed to widespread tokenism practices. This might support meaningful localization aiding both the employer and the employee by providing locals with meaningful and suitable work, while at the same time increasing the returns on human capital investment.


There has been no previous research which provides recommendations across key HR practices.



Forstenlechner, I. (2010), "Workforce localization in emerging Gulf economies: the need to fine‐tune HRM", Personnel Review, Vol. 39 No. 1, pp. 135-152.



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