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And who gets the job? Narratives, dialogical perspectives and practices on implementing positive discrimination in financial institutions

Azizzadeh, Satkeen (2015) And who gets the job? Narratives, dialogical perspectives and practices on implementing positive discrimination in financial institutions. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The high unemployment rate amongst nationals in United Arab Emirates (UAE) has generated the development of the 'Emiratisation policy', a drive to nationalise the UAE workforce. This quota-based mandate is considered a ‘positive discrimination' policy since ethnicity markers are applied. The process of 'Emiratization' has generated a heated public debate as organisations attempt to develop best practices across industries. This research explores the process of implementing Emiratization in two financial organizations in the UAE. The extant literature on implementing positive discrimination policies is however very limited, with an individualistic, quantitative and experimental focus. When a more social and organizational approach has been taken, it has been to look into stereotyping and similarity-attraction paradigms to explain work-related outcomes. Such research takes the policy as a given, concerned with its output and rarely considers the process through which the policy is understood, co-constructed and implemented over time and its impact on working practices. A more practice-based perspective is therefore required to explore the working practices and the practical and ‘hidden’ knowledge that supports them to better understand policy implementation processes. This research aims to address this gap by exploring the common practical (mis)understandings on Emiratisation developed over time among different stakeholders -employees of two financial organizations in the UAE as well as public actors- and their impact on the ‘mediated array of human activity centrally organised around [them]’ (Schatzki, 2001:2). The research was designed as a longitudinal qualitative study conducted over a period of three years. The data corpus consists of 54 in-depth interviews, more than 30 hours of observations, 2 Emiratisation conferences, 4 consultancy reports, 6 annual reports and online resources. The thematic, narrative and dialogical analysis of the data corpus illustrates the ongoing interaction between public narratives, intersubjective (mis)understandings between national and non-national employees and organizational working practices when implementing the policy. In public narratives, Emiratisation is portrayed both as an employment opportunity as well as a strategy to replace expatriates. This tension and the (mis) understandings it generates is reproduced at organisational and intersubjective levels and informs the development of distinct working practices in both organizations. The study provides new insights into the process of implementing positive discrimination policies in organizations through the practice lens, highlighting the emergent nature of policy implementation, grounding it in everyday knowledge and action. It also offers a rare opportunity to capture in situ how Emiratisation ‘becomes’ a practice.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2015 Satkeen Azizzadeh
Sets: Departments > Psychological and Behavioural Science
Supervisor: Garcia-Lorenzo, Lucia

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