To read this content please select one of the options below:

Expat or citizen? Raising the question of a potential impact of status on leader behavior

Valerie Priscilla Goby (College of Business, Zayed University, Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Abdelrahman Alhadhrami (College of Business, Zayed University, Dubai, United Arab Emirates)

International Journal of Organizational Analysis

ISSN: 1934-8835

Article publication date: 3 March 2020

Issue publication date: 6 October 2020




The purpose of this study is to explore the concept that expatriate status, as opposed to national citizen status, may impact leader behavior. The intention is not to pursue a research question carved out from the expatriation and leadership research streams but rather to raise the issue of non-citizenship status as potentially moderating leader behavior.


The authors used grounded theory methodology, including interviews to gather data on the behavior of non-citizen leaders in the UAE. The resulting 28 interview transcripts were analyzed using inductive coding to arrive at aggregate theoretical dimensions.


Their findings reveal a keen tendency among expatriate leaders to display organizational legitimacy by remaining sedulously within established organizational schemata and monitoring employees closely.

Research limitations/implications

The study asks, rather than answers, a question and does not use an established theoretical framework, as its area of concern is not one that fits solely within the literatures on expatriation, international business, leadership, cross-cultural management or national citizenship. Furthermore, the context in which they conduct our investigation is the UAE whose workforce has a disproportionately high number of expatriates. Although this serves as a convenient context in which to study the rising occurrence of non-citizen leaders due to increased professional migration, the issue may be more meaningfully tested in geopolitical contexts with typical expatriate–citizen workforce ratios.


The central theoretical contribution of this preliminary study is to provide initial empirical evidence suggesting that the hitherto-ignored variable of national citizenship may be a significant one to address given increasing professional global migration.



Goby, V.P. and Alhadhrami, A. (2020), "Expat or citizen? Raising the question of a potential impact of status on leader behavior", International Journal of Organizational Analysis, Vol. 28 No. 5, pp. 1019-1030.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles