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Global careers in the Arabian Gulf: Understanding motives for self-initiated expatriation of the highly skilled, globally mobile professionals

Yehuda Baruch (Department of Management, Southampton Business School, Southampton, UK)
Ingo Forstenlechner (Federal Demographic Council, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 13 February 2017

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide a better understanding of expatriation, both firm-initiated and self-initiated. The authors identified factors influencing the motives of expatriates to locate to the Arabian Gulf, and possible factors that may influence their decision to remain.

Design/methodology/approach

Using a qualitative approach, the authors conducted 123 semi-structured interviews with expatriates in the United Arab Emirates, from various backgrounds. These interviews are analyzed based on the thematic analytic approach.

Findings

The authors identified four clusters of reasoning for global assignments to the Gulf and the outcomes of the expatriation. Remuneration was the main motivator cited for the move, but an obstacle for returning to the home country. For Westerners, the second most important factor was career opportunities, whereas for expatriates from Muslim countries it was cultural fit.

Practical implications

The findings may be a valuable source of reference for individuals and for policy makers, employers, HR practitioners, and career counselors to provide an understanding of expatriation in emerging economies.

Originality/value

The paper uses evidence from the Gulf to bridge the gap between current knowledge of expatriation and the context of emerging economies.

Keywords

Citation

Baruch, Y. and Forstenlechner, I. (2017), "Global careers in the Arabian Gulf: Understanding motives for self-initiated expatriation of the highly skilled, globally mobile professionals", Career Development International, Vol. 22 No. 1, pp. 3-22. https://doi.org/10.1108/CDI-12-2015-0164

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited