This study directly responds to a call for theoretical and methodological expansion of our understanding of expatriate workers as a relational dynamic, embedded in a multi-layered and multifaceted country specific context (Al Ariss, Koall, Ozbilgin and Suutari, 2012) by exploring the experiences of western women self-initiated expatriates working in the United Arab Emirates. Extant research in the international management literature in female expatriation identified that western expatriate women working in Japan were primarily perceived as foreign women (a gaijin) by their Japanese colleagues (Adler, 1987). This construction was shown to allow these women to occupy a different, more advantageous social location within Japanese organisations with more degrees of freedom and less gender-based discrimination in comparison to Japanese women; conceptually referred to as constituting a ‘Third Gender’ (Adler, 1987). This positive social construction contributed to the efficacy of female expatriation strategies. Drawing upon the intersectionality literature, specifically from feminist and ethnic theorising, the thesis develops a gender with ethnicity (Broadbridge and Simpson, 2011:473) informed intersectional theoretical lens to explore the research question “How do western women self-initiated expatriates understand their experiences in the United Arab Emirates?” The theoretical potential of an intersectional studies lens to female expatriation is developed through the conceptual construction of ‘self-initiated expatriate women’ on the interconnecting boundaries between expatriation and migration studies. Purposeful sampling was used to collect accounts from ten expatriate women through semi structured interviews conducted in 2007-09. Drawing upon discourse and thematic coding enabled interpretations of the interplay between how expatriate women’s subjectivities are constructed through relational interaction and discourses at the micro, meso and macro level to explore their experiences in the UAE. This thesis offers an intersectional lens to expatriation studies as a dynamic theoretical lens through which rich multilevel relational contextual studies of women self-initiated expatriates are theorised and connect to new understandings of international mobility in international management and female expatriation studies. Through a fusion of the intersectional lens and expatriation literatures, in-depth interpretations are offered which identify new insights into, and surface some of the discourses contributing to the paradoxical relationship between privilege and marginalisation and problematising the specificities of ‘whiteness’. It offers three discourses risk, respect and complex ethnicity to include a country in the Middle East. Finally, this research process offers insights into the temporal, contextual and relationally contingent nature of intersectionality when exploring experiences of women in management studies.
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - Jan 2015|