The JGM BitBlog: What is my status-based identity - relatively deprived or relatively privileged?

Journal of Global Mobility

Rebecca Yusuf, Henley Business School, University of Reading, Reading, UK

Rita Fontinha, Henley Business School, University of Reading, Reading, UK

Washika Haak-Saheem, Henley Business School, University of Reading, Reading, UK and Dubai Business School, University of Dubai, Dubai, UAE

How do HRM practices implemented in International Development Organisations (IDOs) trigger the status-based identities of expatriates and host country nationals (HCNs)? How do these further lead to social comparison outcomes affecting expat-HCN interactions? These are undoubtedly key questions that can be beneficial to multiple stakeholders. As for expatriates and HCNs, if these status-based hierarchies are minimised, this has the potential to bind them as more congruent group members, aligned in meeting the broad missions of IDOs. IDOs have proliferated in countries with high-risk profiles like Nigeria, putting their workers in frequent danger. Even though role allocation, rewards and pay play a role in expat-HCN interactions, safety-related HRM measures tend to exacerbate some inequalities between expats and HCN, affecting the relationships between the members of the two groups.

Safety-oriented measures and support provided by IDOs should be applied to both expatriates and HCNs to stimulate more favourable individual-level outcomes. There has been an increased focus on the safety and security concerns of expatriates with considerably less attention attributed to HCNs. HCNs are vulnerable to similar security challenges that expatriates are overly protected from. They also face wider sets of contradictory factors such as seeking for job security, anticipate more stable incomes, seek career development opportunities, while the Nigerian labour market is saturated and labour standards are not enforced to provide a high level of job security for them.

Despite these contradictory factors, qualitative data from 10 expatriates and 20 HCNs indicate that safety measures implemented across 5 IDO in Nigeria were more favourable to expatriates creating status-based dimensions of hierarchy and hence their comparison selection points.

It is pertinent to minimise the status differences between expatriates and HCNs through the improvement of logistical challenges and working conditions for HCNs generally. This can further lead to less competition between expatriates and HCNs, which can spill over and reflect on more favourable organisational outcomes.

To read the full article, please see the Journal of Global Mobility publication:

Yusuf, R., Fontinha, R. and Haak-Saheem, W. (2022), "The dynamics of workplace relationships among expatriates and host country nationals in international development organisations", Journal of Global Mobility, Vol. 10 No. 4, pp. 476-495. (Open Access)