International projects and cross-cultural adjustment of British expatriates in Middle East: A qualitative investigation of influencing factors

Ashwini Konanahalli, Lukumon Oyedele, Jason Von Meding, John Spillane, Ron Coates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Increased globalisation within the British AEC (Architectural, Engineering and Construction) sector has increased the need for companies to transfer staff to manage their overseas operations. To be able to perform abroad, expatriates must harmonise themselves to the conditions prevailing in the host country. These include getting accustomed to living, working and interacting with the host country nationals. The process is commonly referred to as ‘cross-cultural adjustment’. Various factors influence the process of adjustment. In order to identify these issues, a qualitative study was undertaken, which mainly comprised of comprehensive literature review, individual interviews and focus group discussion with British expatriates working on international AEC assignments in Middle Eastern countries. Through interpretative approach, the current study aims to understand the concept of cross-cultural adjustment of British Expatriates based in Middle East and their influencing factors.
The findings suggest that success of expatriation does not entirely rest on an expatriate's ability but also on organisational support and assistance that expatriates receive prior to and during the assignment. Organisational factors such as selection mechanisms, job design, training, logistical and social support, mentoring, etc., influence various facets of expatriate adjustment. Striking cultural contrasts between British and Arab culture both in work and non work situations also dictate the level of support required by the expatriate, suggesting that relocation to less developed, remote or politically unstable regions, demands additional support and consideration by the parent company. This study is relevant to the AEC companies employing British expatriates, who need to be cognisant of the issues highlighted above to make rational and informed decisions when handling international assignments in the Middle East.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-54
Number of pages24
JournalAustralasian Journal of Construction Economics and Building
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Cross-cultural adjustment
  • International project management
  • Middle East and North Africa
  • Organisational strategies
  • Overseas AEC assignments
  • Work related factors


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