Date of this Version


Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Details

Published Version.

Cerimagic, S., & Smith, J. (2011). Cross-cultural training: The importance of investing in people. Paper presented at COBRA 2011: RICS Construction and Property Conference, University of Salford, United Kingdom.

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2011 HERDC submission. FoR code: 200209

© Copyright S. Cerimagic & J. Smith, 2011




Major international companies have established themselves in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) market by setting up their regional headquarters in Dubai. These international companies want to be in a growing market in a country where their companies are recognised and affiliated with a positive image. In addition, many companies have moved to the UAE for financial reasons as well. The UAE is an expanding regional market with the potential for future growth. However, there are cultural differences between Australia (and western countries generally) and the UAE (Middle Eastern). It is easy to have genuine and honest misunderstandings and, hence, it is simple to take
innocent and sometimes mistakes. What those companies do not realise is that if they do not appropriately train and prepare their expatriates for their overseas assignments the expatriates are more likely to experience difficulties that can have a serious impact on their employees‘ effectiveness and on the company‘s activities.

This study considers project managers in the UAE, their experiences, their training and their needs and requirements. A survey of 100 Australian project managers based in the UAE was carried out to discover the dimensions of the cultural business environment. The survey was followed by six case studies of senior management in large companies involved in project management, construction and property in the UAE. The results of these research investigations are summarised in this paper and recommendations on overcoming the deficiencies identified are discussed. Developing cross cultural training programs in line with the recommendations made in this research could lead companies to gaining a greater market share in the UAE and being recognised as an industry leader. Hence, investing in people is more likely to give the greatest return.



This document has been peer reviewed.