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Workforce Localization, Information Sharing, And The Imperative Of Culture

Valerie Priscilla Goby, Hamad Mohammed Ahmad Ali, Mohammed Ahmad Abdulwahed Lanjawi, Khalil Ibrahim Mohammed Ahmad Al Haddad

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Purpose The aim of this study is to conduct an initial investigation of information sharing between the vast number of expatriate employees and the small minority of local employees in Dubai’s private sector workforce. Research on the impact of the workforce localization policy has highlighted the frequent marginalization of locals within the expatriate-dominated private sector. One form of this is the reluctance of expatriates to share information with local recruits, and the authors conducted this study to assess the reality and extent of this phenomenon. Design/methodology/approach The authors designed a brief interview survey to probe how Emirati employees secure workplace information and whether they experience information withholding on the part of expatriate colleagues. The authors also explored whether any such experience impacts on their attitudes to working in the private sector since this is a key factor in the success of the localization policy. Complete responses were received from 0.9 per cent of the total local private sector workforce. Findings A notable lack of information sharing emerged with 58 per cent of respondents reporting their expatriate colleagues’ and superiors’ reluctance to share information with them, and 63 per cent describing experiences of discriminatory behavior. Research limitations/implications The authors identify key cultural and communication issues relating to localization within Dubai’s multicultural workforce. These include the broader cultural factors that determine how Emiratis conceptualize information sharing. Future research can pursue this issue to help inform the development of supportive information sharing practices. Such practices are an essential part of the creation of a diversity climate, which is necessary to sustain localization. Originality/value This study is a pioneering attempt to empirically investigate the information sharing practices that Emirati private sector employees experience. It suggests that the exclusion of citizens from the workplace through practices such as “ghost Emiratization” reverberates in the workplace through a lack of information sharing.