Adjustment in international work context : The case of Self-initiated Expatriate Academics in Saudi Arabia

Kalmey, Farah and Giga, Sabir (2022) Adjustment in international work context : The case of Self-initiated Expatriate Academics in Saudi Arabia. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

[thumbnail of 2022farahphd]
Text (2022farahphd)
2022farahphd_.pdf - Published Version

Download (1MB)


This study explores the work adjustment experiences of (SIE) academics working in Riyadh. Saudi Arabia has heavily invested in higher education (HE) to develop its human capital (Alrashidi & Phan, 2015). Consequently, there has been a large influx of SIE academics from different countries (Asif et al., 2020). However, there is a dearth of research about the experiences these academics go through as they cope with the adjustment process. In an original contribution to knowledge, this study uses phenomenological case approach. Ten male and five female academics from different countries were interviewed. This study confirms that adjustment is a never-ending process where SIEs keep negotiating and making sense of their new surroundings in Saudi Arabia. Secondly, religion, which is rarely mentioned in the literature, can be a pull factor, and it also helps SIEs deal with adjustment problems. Religion as reason for relocation adds to the well cited reasons of SIEs expatriation, which include economy, adventure, exploration, and escape (Richardson & McKenna, 2002). Third, having a prior experience in a foreign setting similar to the host country is seen as a catalyst for adjustment (Guttormsen et al., 2018). In practical terms, the research suggests that providing onsite training about the culture and work procedures help with adjustment. Moreover, mentoring from experienced fellow SIEs should be instituted. Employers should facilitate spouses and family members to join their SIE employees because family is found to be an important pillar in work adjustment. In addition, comprehension of the local language should also be encouraged. However, the current study reveals factors that could negatively impact SIE work adjustment. Arbitrarily assigned privilege, based on ethnicity and nationality, was viewed as being detrimental to successful employee adjustment.

Item Type:
Thesis (PhD)
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
18 Jul 2022 15:45
Last Modified:
28 Nov 2023 11:43