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Ranking the future global manager characteristics and knowledge requirements according to UAE business managers' opinions

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ABSTRACT Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to rank the importance of global manager characteristics according to the views of private and public leaders in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In addition, it will establish the most important and in
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  Ranking the future globalmanager characteristics andknowledge requirementsaccording to UAE businessmanagers’ opinions Belal Barhem  Business Administration Department, Abu Dhabi University, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates Hassan Younies School of Management, NYIT Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi,United Arab Emirates, and  Pamela C. Smith The University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas, USA Abstract Purpose  – The purpose of this paper is to rank the importance of global manager characteristicsaccording to the views of private and public leaders in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In addition,it will establish the most important and in demand managerial knowledge for UAE managers over thenext five years. Design/methodology/approach  – This study was conducted using a two-part questionnairedeveloped by the researchers. The purpose of the 52-item questionnaire is to assess managers’ abilityto work in an international business environment. The sample includes 180 managers, from differentpublic and private organizations in the UAE. Based on prior research, the characteristics examinedinclude the following: communication skills, adaptability, open-mindedness to foreign environments,strong technical skills, stress management, ability to work well with others, social intelligence, andvaluing diversity and multicultural teamwork. Factor analysis is used to analyze the importance of these global leader characteristics. Findings  – ThestudyfoundthatthesampleofUAEmanagersfeelthetopfiveglobalmanagerskillsare:strongdesiretogooverseas,specificknowledgeofoverseasculture,theabilitytoadapttotimedifferences,the capacity to deal with expatriate work assignments, and overseas experience. In terms of the future,computer skills, communication skills, knowledge of worldwide networks and contacts, knowledge of home culture, and the ability to understand cultural dynamics are the most important skills. Originality/value  – The results will help in defining the major characteristics of future globalmanagers in the UAE and the Gulf Corporation Council region. Keywords  United Arab Emirates, Global managers, Managerial skills, Leadership, Gender Paper type  Research paper 1. Introduction This paper seeks to rank in importance the characteristics of global leaders within theUnited Arab Emirates (UAE). The UAE is one of the richest countries based on The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at www.emeraldinsight.com/1753-7983.htm Future globalmanagercharacteristics 229 Received March 2011Revised May 2011Accepted June 2011 Education, Business and Society:Contemporary Middle Eastern IssuesVol. 4 No. 3, 2011pp. 229-247 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited1753-7983DOI 10.1108/17537981111159984  per capita gross domestic product, and has a population of over 3.7 million, yet only21.9 percent are nationals/UAE citizens (Ministry of Economy, 2005). These facts haveculminated in a move to develop the competencies of local employees in the workforce(Mellahi and Wood, 2004; Budhwar  et al. , 2002). Despite its potential economic wealth,academic research investigating skill and competencies among Arabic managers islimited. Abdalla and Al-Homoud (2001) argue scholars often overlook the study of leadership and organizational practices in the Arab context. Much of the existingliterature focuses on human resource management (Budhwar and Mellahi, 2007, for adiscussion, Rees  et al. , 2007), employee commitment within certain industries in theUAE (Suliman and Al-Junaibi, 2010), and some gender-related issues in Middle Easterncountries (Hutchings  et al. , 2010; Metcalfe, 2006, 2007; Metle, 2002). This study’sexamination of leadership within an Arabic region contributes to existing literature,and answers the call for further research into the realm of global management.This study’s examination of global leader characteristics is timely for numerousreasons. First, the UAE’s workforce diversity at all organizational levels and thepresenceofmultinationalcorporations(MNCs)warrantaninvestigationofmanagementskills. Second, the presence of MNCs in the region has increased the implementation of legal and professional requirements that are partially based on global standards.Finally, the Dubai Government recently launched the 2020 project,and the 2030 projectin Abu Dhabi such as Sadiyat Island with the Louvre and Guggenheim museums. Thismulticulturalbusinessenvironmentwillcontinuetogrow,andmanagersmustbeabletomeet the future needs of the region’s clientele (Al-Shaikh, 2001).Specifically, we investigate the views of managers concerning the core competenciesand skills required of global business leaders. These competencies include, but are notlimitedto,theiradaptabilitytoforeignenvironments,technicalskills,stressmanagement,communication, intelligence, negotiation skills, as well as teamwork. Existing researchdocumentstheimportanceofglobalmanagerspossessingthesecompetencies(Oliver etal. ,2009; Schermerhorn  et al. , 2003; Harvey and Novicevic, 2001; Ivancevich, 2001; Hebard,1996). Furthermore, we expand upon existing literature addressing differences in gendermanagement style in the Middle East (Hutchings  et al. , 2010; Aycan, 2004; Metle, 2002).Results indicate subjects ranked the following skills as very important for successfulglobal managers: . a strong desire to go overseas; . specific knowledge of overseas culture; . the ability to adapt to time differences; . the capacity to deal with expatriate work assignments; and . overseas experience.DespiteourfocusonmanagersintheUAE,ourresultsmaybegeneralizabletootherMiddleEasterncountrieswithalargepopulationofMNCs.OurexploratoryresultsmayalsoassistMNCs in the region to develop and enhance their management training programs.Giventheregion’sfocusonthe2020and2030projects,wealsoexplorethesourcesof possible future demand for managerial knowledge. We solicit information concerningwhat skills are expected of managers in the next five years. Specifically, we explorevarious dimensions, including financial management, project management, strategicmanagement,informationtechnology,andethics.Ourresultsindicatethatoverthenext EBS4,3 230  fiveyears,theabilitytoworkeffectivelywithuppermanagement,provideleadership,toknow worldwide networks and contacts, the ability to understand cultural dynamics,and viewing change as an opportunity are expected of global leaders.This paper is organized as follows: Section 2 discusses prior literature documentingcharacteristics of global managers, and includes the objectives of our study. Section 3provides a discussion of our sample and methodology. Section 4 provides an overviewof our results, and Section 5 provides concluding remarks and calls for future research. 2. Literature review The rapid growth in information technology and electronic communication hasheightened everyone’s awareness of the global economy. El-Sayed and Westup (2003)argue that information and communication technology has led to the formation of newand more complex networks of relations between national and global organizations. Inorder to be successful, global organizations must understand a myriad of factors thataffect their core business. These factors include language, as well as cultural andreligious differences.MNCs are considered global organizations since they have missions and strategiesthat are broad/worldwide in scope. Furthermore, they often maintain perspectives thatlack allegiance to any one national home. Successful MNCs must hire global managersthat seek to maintain and uphold a diverse corporate culture. Underlying this conceptof a global manager is the definition of a “leader”, which is a “group member whoseinfluence on group attitudes, performance, or decision making greatly exceeds that of the average member of the group” (Simonton, 2004, p. 411). In the global context, thispaper focuses on the global manager. Discussed in the context of expatriates, Harveyand Novicevic (2001, p. 69) argue: A successful global manager will have to possess a complex amalgamation of technical,political, social, organizational and cultural competencies beyond those found in many of theexpatriates of the past. The ability to amass the collective managerial skills to compete in thehypercompetitive global marketplace may be one of themost important strategic tasks facingthe management of rapidly expanding global organizations. Schermerhorn  et al.  (2003, p. 43) further expand upon the requirements of a globalmanager. They argue: An ability to adapt well to different business environments is a basic attribute needed by aglobal manager. S/he should also be able to respect different beliefs, solve problems quicklyin new circumstances, communicate well with other people from different cultures, speakmore than one language, understand different government and political systems, conveyrespect and enthusiasm when dealing with others, and possess high technical expertisefor a job. In a global context, business leaders and managers need to possess strategic thinkingskills. Strategic leadership involves the capacity to learn, the capacity to change, andmanagerial wisdom. According to Rhinesmith (1992), a global manager needs a globalmindset and to be able to trust organizational processes rather than structure, in orderto deal with the unexpected. Furthermore, they must value diversity and multiculturalteamwork, view change as an opportunity, and be comfortable with surprises andambiguity. Advances in technology also require global managers to expand uponstandard face-to-face teamwork and move toward innovative virtual teams. In order Future globalmanagercharacteristics 231  to accomplish these goals, managers must exhibit superior communication andcomputer skills (Pauleen, 2003). Furthermore, the study by Barhem (2008) found thatprivate sector managers in the UAE are able to deal with the demands of globalization.Literature also addresses some “non-technical” characteristics of a global manager.These areas focus on interpersonal relationships, such as a well-adjusted familysituation, a supportive spouse, behavioral flexibility, and stress management copingmechanisms(Ivancevich,2001;Hebard,1996).Theseinterpersonalskillsmaybeviewedas related to the concept of “social intelligence”, which Gardner (1985) defines as theability to notice and make distinctions among individuals. This skill requires attentiontoaperson’smood,temperament,motivations,andintentions.AccordingtoSaloveyandMayer (1990, p. 189), it is “the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings andemotions to discriminate them and to use this information to guide one’s thinkingand actions”. Global managers need these social intelligence qualities in addition to thefollowingtechnicalareas:academicandworkqualifications,language skills, adesire toworkinaforeignlocation,andtheabilitytoadapttoculturalchange.Thecombinationof all types of skills support the notion that global leadership development requires aholisticapproachtotalentmanagement(Oliver etal. ,2009).Thefoundationforeffectiveglobal leadership isalso communication.According to Gibson (1997),onemust developan awareness of different cultural communication styles, as well as understand thecharacteristicsunderlyingthesedifferences.Effectivelisteningandinterpretationskillsare often viewed as critical in today’s global environment.The ability to adapt to cultural change and cultural knowledge are criticalcharacteristics for effective global managers. Cultural intelligence is a person’s abilityto manage effectively in diverse settings (Earley and Ang, 2003). Ng  et al.  (2009) arguethat cultural intelligence leads to the learning process, allowing global managers tobalance any friction, and may ultimately lead to an effective global leader. House  et al. (1997, p. 536) note: [ . . . ] what is expected of leaders, what leaders may and may not do, and the influence thatleaders have vary considerably as a result of the cultural forces in the countries or regions inwhich the leaders function. The global leadership and organizational behavior effectiveness (GLOBE) researchproject investigates cultural values and practices in various countries to “identify theirimpactonorganizationalpracticesandleadershipattributes”(House etal. ,2002,p.3).Inparticular,theGLOBEprojectexaminesclustersofnations,includinganArabiccluster(which includes Qatar, Morocco, Turkey, Egypt, and Kuwait). Kabasakal and Bodur(2002)maintainthatteam-orientedmanagersareperceivedtobethemosteffectiveintheArabic cluster. Furthermore, autonomous and self-protective leadership styles have anegative impact on effective leadership in the Arabic cluster. Additional research onglobal leadership skills in the Middle East includes studies focusing on leaders in otherregions, besides those in the GLOBE Arabic cluster. Youssef and Luthans (2006) stressEgyptian leaders should exude confidence, transparency and ethics, in order to sustaina competitive advantage for the organization. Zaffane and Al-Zarooni (2008) found intheir sample of UAE Government organizations that organizational culture affects jobsatisfaction as well as the degree of trust employees maintain with management.Overall, Suliman and Iles (2000) note the belief among Arab researchers and managersthat a committed workforceis apowerful source ofcompetitive advantage and success. EBS4,3 232  Despite a wealth of information concerning the characteristics of global managers,theredoesnotappeartobeanyidealstandardsforassessingamanager’sabilitytoworkeffectively in a global environment. We seek to add to the existing literature bydocumentingwhatmanagersintheUAEexpectoftheirglobalmanagers.Theexploratorynature of this study calls for the proposition of the following research questions:  RQ1.  What do UAE managers view as the most important global managercharacteristics?  RQ2.  What do UAE managers view as the most important manager characteristicneeded for future leaders? 3. Methodology 3.1 Sample and questionnaire This study was conducted using a two-part questionnaire developed by the researchers.Thepurposeofthequestionnaireistoassessmanagers’abilitytoworkinaninternationalbusiness environment. About 280 questionnaires were distributed to a conveniencesampleof90organizationsintheseven differentemiratesintheUAE.Respondentswerechosen from the seven different emirates that differ in size, wealth, population, andbusiness opportunities. In total, 104 private and 76 public organizations were contacted,and the questionnaires were hand delivered to at least five managers in every targetedorganization with not less than 200 employees in total. A total of 180 respondentscompleted the questionnaire (resulting in a 64 percent response rate).The 52-item questionnaire evaluated a set of characteristics, knowledge, and skillsnecessaryforgloballeaders,bothintoday’scurrentenvironmentandinthefuture(i.e.thenextfive years). Each respondent was asked to determine the level ofimportance ofeachitem.Thislevelofimportancewasmeasuredonafive-pointLikertscale(1 – notimportantto 5 – critically important). To determine the skill importance in the next five years, athree-pointLikertscalewasused(3 – increaseinfiveyearsto1 – decreaseinfiveyears).The questionnaire also solicited demographic information (including, but not limited to,age, academic status, work experience, gender, nationality, and managerial position).Based on prior research, the characteristics examined in the questionnaire areconsidered requirements for a global manager. These characteristics include thefollowing:communicationskills,adaptability,open-mindednesstoforeignenvironments,strong technical skills, stress management, ability to work well with others, socialintelligenceandvaluingdiversityandmulticulturalteamwork(Rhinesmith,1992;Harveyand Novicevic, 2001; Schermerhorn  et al. , 2003; Pauleen, 2003).The reliability test for the elements of the questionnaire is represented in Table I.Itreveals aCronbach’s a level from 0.98 to0.99,whichare consideredacceptable levels.Concerning demographic information of the 180 mid-level manager respondents, 44is working in the public sector and 104 in the private sector. Respondent profiles are Item Cronbach’s  a  No. of itemsOverall importance 0.99 104Current importance 0.989 52Future importance 0.98 52 Table I. Reliability statistics Future globalmanagercharacteristics 233
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