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Strategic Human Resource Management of Ethnic & Cultural Diversity in Airline Industry

Case Study of Emirates Airline Dubai


With the availability of state-of-the-art technology and the arrival of global communication technologies, employees are now connected more than ever before. This fact has influenced the current educational systems and the enterprises and other working institutes to provide the best services to their target consumers to self-promote their organizations and take advantage of these recent developments.

Moreover, efforts and strategies are also conducted to retain the best-skilled workers and attract new human resources from similar industries through a well-managed human resource management system. In this way, any enterprises that anticipate this need to develop policies and procedures and accordingly get the best resources than their rivals can take competitive advantage and prove their effectiveness in the market (Brown, 2008).

As stated by Robbins (2009), workforce diversity for an organization is defined as a diverse workforce with employees who are different from age, race, gender, ethnicity, and educational profiles. Workforce diversity is an important issue for management to be considered for developing new policies and practices or revising the previous ones.

Normally, diversity is seen in a specific way, and most issues such as race or gender dissimilarities and their connections with laws help give them safe status. Many researchers have defined diversity more broadly, suggesting that individuals can be influenced in the form of style of their thinking and how they behave and work through a well-directed ethnic and cultural diversity management system (Robbins, 2009).

Hence, it can be argued that strategic human resource management of ethnic & cultural diversity can be considered an essential tool that can be used to improve any organization's overall performance and productivity. This research thus aims to investigate the relevance of this statement further, and the following organization has been selected as a case study to undertake this research;

Case Study Organization; Emirates Airline

Emirates Group, established in Dubai, is an extremely cost-effective organization with above 50,000 employees and just about US$18.4 billion turnovers. Dnata and Emirates are the airlines constituting the Emirates group; Dnata provides air services throughout the world while Emirates airline is an international award-winning airline.

At this time, Emirates is providing air services in almost six continents and to above 125 destinations on a current fleet of 180 extensive and broad airplanes.

For continuing the achievements and accomplishments of the Emirates group, it is necessary to employ high-class people who can easily take advantage of working and living in an international and up-to-date city that is contributing to providing the most attractive ways of living. The employees of the Emirates belong to almost 160 nations.

They are offered tax-free incomes, different packages, and further benefits and at the same time an opportunity to improve themselves to promote and extend their relationship with the Emirates group (Emirates, 2016).

Rationale of Research

It is essential to recognize Dubai's demographics to understand the variety and multiplicity of doing a job in Dubai. The population in 2012, according to the census governed by the statistic center of Dubai, is 2.1 Million, out of which UAE nationals are only 25% of the total population.

The remaining 75% includes employees from all over the world, including India, Sri-Lanka, Bangladesh, the United States, and the western and European countries. The Western countries' experts mainly belong to the United Kingdom, with an estimated population of about 100,000 (Dubai Gov., 2016).

Therefore, diversity management has become a major human resource concern in most organizations in the UAE. Diversity within the group is the foundation and is always essential for the success of a company. For example, the Emirates airline covers above six continents and 120 destinations worldwide, with its crew from around 137 nations speaking almost 58 different languages (Emirates, 2016).

To search for the right employees for the job, the recruiters regularly travel around the world. The recruitment strategy’s main constituent includes how fluent a person is in a particular language required to go with a definite zone's demographics. For example, a flight going from Dubai to ant city of Brazil must include crew members who are aware of the Portuguese language.

Hence, evaluating the sensitivity of cross-culture in Dubai is also an important factor. For this reason, almost 50,000 employees every year from all over the world are screened, from which only 4,000 can get jobs in Emirates Airlines (Emirates 2016).

In this situation, multicultural employees with diverse ethnic backgrounds play an important part in devising human resource strategies and achieving performance targets from these employees.

Therefore, this research aims to evaluate the underlying strengths and weaknesses of employing a large and ethnically diverse workforce. Emirates Airlines operating from UAE, is probably one of the most suited organizations to complete this research.

Aims and Objectives

As discussed previously, the proposed research's primary aim is to evaluate the strategic human resource management of ethnic and culturally diverse workforce in the airline industry of Dubai, which is a well-known diverse region. The Case study of Emirates Airline is selected for this research for the reasons stated in the previous section.

The stated objectives of the proposed research are:

1. To assess the theoretical framework of ethnic and cultural diversity in the airline industry.

2. To identify the challenges and opportunities of HRM of a culturally diverse workforce in Emirate Airlines

3. To determine the strategic HRM practices prevailing in Emirates Airline Dubai to manage culturally and ethnically diverse workforce.

4. To recommend suitable strategies to improve strategic HRM in Emirates to achieve desired performance goals.

Research Questions:

The research questions are hence derived for this case particular study are;

1. What are the main challenges and opportunities of strategic management of cultural and ethnic diverse workforce in Emirates Airline Dubai?

2. How does ethnic-cultural diversity impact organizational performance in the airline industry of Dubai?

3. Can the management strategies related to Ethnic & Cultural Diversity be optimized to enhance the airline industry's productivity?

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Literature Review

Cultural Diversity Background

Cultural diversity is a known fact which needs no introduction, as various cultural norms exist, with each having its certain characteristics (Baer et al. 2007). At first, sight appears, even delineating a culture seems not an easy task to begin.

Moreover, Brown (2008) asserted that being attentive towards it in this era is a casual routine due to globalization's involvement in exchanges and acceptance of societies towards one another. Simultaneously, attentiveness cannot assure cultural diversity perpetuation, although it has given a much clearer view of the topic. Cultural diversity is one of the major concerns of a society connected with the rising range of community codes between and inside the societies.

It is a clear fact that terms like living styles, social interactions (between generations, male and female, etc.), codes of conduct, lingual forms, planning of private and public regions have no longer been defined as single models or think as a term of unique illustrations.

The evolution of local communities on political platforms in the last few years has been based on the struggle of various groups, including both natives, non-residents, and impoverished groups, especially those who have faced discrimination based on age, gender, and cultural origin in our societies. Political institutions have in perspective thought itself being challenged, and in various countries, cultural diversity has set up its place in politics for this very reason.

On a similar note, Kundu (2003) declares that Cultural diversity has a significant influence on political insinuation; because it suggests we become free from the terms like ‘Stereotypes’ and ‘Bigotry,’ i.e., we can allow others with their differences and complications.

In this regard, researchers suggest that it makes a way to rediscover our humanity by our very diversity. Cultural diversity has proved itself to be a valuable resource that improves cultural intellect and scientific collaboration for the improvement and cultural peace.

Cultural Diversity in Organizations

In terms of its internal functioning, each team must be effective in meeting organizational goals and efficiently supervise the relations with others in the organization. All the way through these relations, teams can access the necessary resources and can influence which is favorable for the teams and its members (Owoyemietal 2011).

To successfully administer workplace, range as suggested by Soltani (2010), the Human Resource supervisor should transform from partisanship, i.e., “our way is the best way” analysis, to ethnically comparative perception, i.e., “let’s take the best of a variety of ways.”

This transfer has to be embedded in the Human Resource Managers' administrative structure plan, organize, principal, and control of executive resources. However, diversity cannot be characterized in actuality.

To become successful, they need to increase their business and customer support via mitigating human resource complications and by nourishing the talents of employees. To meet this requirement, the organization can look forward to recognizing the significance of diversity and encouraging modernization and improvement.

The essential civilizing environment that encourages a comprehensive atmosphere provides for strong leadership and dedication. To execute the management practices, efficient communication, knowledge, education, guidance, and training can facilitate the management. Hence, the justification for managing and accepting diversity is in no way any less convincing (Owoyemi et al., 2011).

The necessity for diversity programs will mean so much to the flourishing organizations in the future, as new opportunities and potentials come up in the business environment. More than ever before, today the world needs more diversity. Personal attributes such as religious experiences, traditions, civilization, etc., can make individuals distinct and turn the world we live live-in into a globalized society.

Implications of Cultural Diversity

With an entry into the new century, cultural diversity has been placed in a central position. There is various evidence suggesting that globalization and liberalism in the market will preach cultural equivalence and reduce any already existing imbalance between cultures and societies.

On the other side, only a few have asserted that; the various forms of cold wars and veil of political beliefs always come up with new ideologies, religious, cultural, and even traditional breakouts, promoting ‘clash of civilizations’ in one form or another. Scientists have already warned of the risks to the Earth’s atmosphere caused by human activity, sketching the destruction of biodiversity and the vanishing of habitual ways of life due to the shortage of resources for living a modern life (Jackson, & Joshi, 2004).

Moreover, ‘Diversity’ is a uniting call for those who criticize constant socio-economic discriminations in urbanized civilizations. At the same time, it is proposing a challenge to the ideology of global collaboration: some cite it to compete for globally recognized human rights, while other for example, UNESCO has a firm view that fully documented cultural diversity empowers the individual human rights universality and make sure use of effective practices to preserve these rights (UNDP 2012). The fundamental goals of the UN related to cultural diversity are as follows

1. To understand cultural diversity and all its connected parts, by trying to demonstrate the difficulties of the procedures at the job, in a similar way picking the main idea from a pool of possible understandings.

2. To throw light on cultural diversity and its benefits in regions like language, education, communication, and inventiveness with their inherent features apart can be thought as essential to safeguard and encourage cultural diversity.

3. Prove the importance of investing in cultural diversity to investors and decision-makers to need intercultural conversation. Since it will change our thinking towards sustainable growth, but it proves to be a building base for practicing universally known human rights and liberty. Furthermore, it can help to make strong social bonding and democratic authority.


The multicultural workforce is becoming more popular in the new epoch (Zgourides et al., 2002; Inmyxai, S. & Takahashi Y. 2010). In general, diversity is directly proportional to employment teams' use, so an increase in diversity would increase the workforce's use and raise collaboration between participants, which would improve both business efficiency and employee contentment.

Even it has been seen that the workforce is more diverse now in terms of age, parallel interest, and traditional values, and increased diversity is seen too in our educational institutes (Zgourides et al., 2002). It is a fact that enterprises have adopted the multicultural environment due to the increased trend of multicultural societies, consequently encompassing domestic, educational, and religious beliefs.

The distinctions in cultural features were predictive of team scores, According to Zgourides et al. (2002). This can be explained as the benefit of having culturally different views for problem-solving that will improve a team's performance after the teams understand how to make the most of these differences.

Timmermans et al. (2011) concluded that innovation is a process that usually needs communication between employees and derives their various features from all stages of an organization.

Nationality, age, cultural background, and other such recognized features can develop pessimistic results for the organization. Minorities can face challenges like less job satisfaction, problems with nationality, apparent discrimination, etc. (Timmermans et al., 2011). However, with the increased growth in minority groups, few of the hurdles disappear.

As per Timmermans et al. (2011), ethnicity can be proved as an intermediary for social foundation, and distinct qualities in ethnicity can be beneficial for creative execution since it expands the perceptions and points of view in the firm (Soltani, 2010).

Besides, given Timmermans et al. (2011), a few levels of mixed qualities in ethnicity may be connected with development. Still, high levels of ethnic differences may negatively influence the environment since disputes can arise in inner circles because of differences in social classifications (Dahlin,2005).

Conceptual Framework

To improve any company in its performance, there is a high demand to take great care in its team's relations with other internal departments. Each team must be in good relations with its internal members and need to have better dealings with other teams and personnel (Ostergaard, et al., 2011).

This relationship will result in inefficient usage of resources and effects in a better way for both the team and its constituents (Brown 2008). Given the literature reviewed in the previous section, the following conceptual framework is devised for this research:

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Research Methodology

As suggested by Saunders et al. (2012), a structured plan of research proves as a guide for any study, and it promotes the discussion of methods used in a particular study. This study is based on pragmatism philosophy which supports both ‘subjective’ and ‘objective’ methods. Moreover, it relies on empirical testing of data in real business conditions (Base, 2006).

Furthermore, a descriptive research method can be used in this research study which supports the research positivism paradigm and focuses on objective treatment for the selected dependent and independent variables. A descriptive approach will help to analyze the relationship of more variables, especially for quantitative data.

On the other side, exploratory research can also be used for this study. However, it is often adopted for difficult and subjective problem-solving. Hence, the exploratory strategy will only be partially used to explore detailed information / qualitative data gathered from interviews of Emirates managers and associates.

Research Strategy

Bryman (2008) stated that interviews, case studies, observation, and experiments could be chosen as a research strategy to collect data for any particular study. This survey method has been planned to collect data because this method suits positivist philosophy which is the main philosophy of this research.

Schwab (2003) suggested that the Survey method is simple, precise, and suitable for collecting data from huge samples. Furthermore, Interviews of managers or associates of the Emirates company will be conducted, which will help the proposed study's exploratory elements. The interview is subjective in nature and will be used for qualitative data collection for the research.

Research Approach

Schwab (2003) detailed two commonly used methods in social sciences research named inductive and deductive. Deductive methods refer to top-down methodology, and it is used to testify the theory to construct ideas and then design hypotheses. In contrast to this, the inductive theory is based on exploratory inquiries regarding complex problems that need detailed explanations.

As clear and objective data collection methods are used in the suggested deductive approach, the proposed research will use quantitative and quantitative data, along with top-down ways of data collection.

Time Horizon

The cross-sectional methodology is needed to gain information regarding the influence of organizational abilities on productivity at a particular time period, i.e. when this study has been conducted (Saunders et al., 2012). On the other side, there is an option of choosing longitudinal research methodology. This type needs long time periods and recurring research, but this is not appropriate for the proposed research.

Sampling Procedures

Employees from different Emirates departments can be selected to sample data concerning the human resource in management positions. Furthermore, purposive sampling will be used for this research for data collection. As per Malhotra, 2005, the purposive sampling technique can help an analyst only gather those respondents who are qualified, which is assumed to be beneficial for this study.

This sample will be consisting of employees from different departments. Also, three randomly chosen human resource departmental managers will be consulted to gain qualitative data through interviews.

Data Collection

Types of Data Collection

Qualitative and quantitative are the two types of data gathering techniques to be used for this study. The quantitative technique involves data collection, which is in numeral form. This method is appropriate for objective study, which relies on positivism philosophy. On the other side, qualitative data collection involves interviews and is applied to exploratory research; both methodologies are used in this study.

Secondary Sources:

As per Schwab (2003), secondary data sources can include various literature articles, research papers, published data, and books. This secondary data will outline the background and literature review segments of the final research report and draft the questionnaire and interviews. This will be done after identifying the fundamental research gaps and interesting facts on the subject under the study.

Primary sources

Primary data can be gathered by survey and interview. Survey processes are used as it produces large amounts of data without much effort. This scheme is effective since the researcher will not have to travel or spend a large budget.

The survey questionnaire will be carefully drafted to achieve the objectives of this research. To find out about key performance parameters that are not available online, interviews are planned to be conducted to acquire direct information from managers. This research includes three interviews conducted with managers of Emirates airline Dubai.

Data Analysis

Data collected from employee surveys will be processed through statistical tools such as MS excel. The findings regarding dependence and relations of performance and internal capacities are resulted from using regression and correlation analysis techniques. The qualitative data is collected through interviews and will be examined by ‘Thematic analysis,’ which involves important themes that will be sketched with the support of interviews' answers.

The more important factors regarding data are its validity and reliability. Validity and reliability can be improved by choosing the right research tools and suitable samples and structuring questions properly which are relevant to the study and are in an understandable form (Malhotra, 2007).

Limitations of the Research

1. There is limited reach to scholarly work, related information, and investigations; moreover, information regarding research on Emirates documents also has limited access.

2. The partial way into applicable information statistics related to the problem will result in a limited collection of quantitative data

3. Time slot allocated for the study is short, so concerning subjective information analysis and few discussions, meetings would take more time than predicted. Consequently, this time gap will affect the completion of the final report.

Expected Research Outcomes

1. Research design formation to evaluate the cross-cultural issues management to achieve the sustainable performance of Emirates in the UAE

2. Examining the practicality of management exercises and policies which help for the best use of resources to manage cultural conflicts.

3. Recommendations to suitable management practices and systems to address current difficulties to attain maximum performance in Emirates airline or any other multinational company in UAE.

Ethical Considerations

According to Bell and Bryman (2007), research-based on primary data collection faced various challenges. The ethical factor comes mainly into considerations where interviews are being conducted for the subjective data. These foundational ethical principles will be followed in the current study:

1. Participant’s privacy will be assured by keeping provided information safe from public sharing.

2. Before the beginning of the survey, permissions should be taken from participants.

3. Sensitive and optional collected information is kept confidential

4. Secondary resources for information could be from multiple resources so that their copyrights must be respected.

Research Schedule

Following is the proposed study schedule:


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