Talent Management in UAE’s MNEs

Subject: Employee Management
Pages: 16
Words: 4527
Reading time:
18 min
Study level: PhD

Talent management is one of the most critical roles in any organization in the current competitive business environment. In the United Arab Emirates, multinational enterprises have been keen on recruiting and retaining talents to help them have an efficient workforce capable of meeting strict targets within short deadlines. These enterprises know that their ability to succeed depends on the capabilities of these employees (Knecht, Wiese, & Freund, 2016). In this section, the focus is to come up with clear research questions that would enable the researcher collect the relevant data from the field. According to Hafner-Burton, Haggard, Lake, and Victor (2017), when conducting research, it is critical to come up with clear research questions to guide the process of collecting data from various sources. Research questions identify specific information that is needed in the study. It eliminates cases where irrelevant data is collected because of limited focus in the study. The following are the specific questions that were used to collect data from the field:

  1. What is the relevance of talent management in the modern business environment?
  2. Do local companies in the United Arab Emirates understand the relevance of talent management?
  3. How do local multinational enterprises in the United Arab Emirates managing talents within their workforce?
  4. What are the benefits of talent management for the United Arab Emirates’ Multinational enterprises?

In this section of the report, the researcher sought to answer the above questions using secondary data. Secondary data was majorly collected from journal articles from trusted databases.

Purpose of the Research

According to Weisiger and Yarhi-Milo (2015), the current business environment is increasingly becoming challenging for small, medium, and large corporations as they struggle to remain relevant in the market. The ever-changing legal environment, unpredictable fluctuations in the economy, increasing power of customers and suppliers, increasing market rivalry, ease of entry of international market rivals, and many other external challenges all pose serious threat to the sustainability of a firm’s operations in the market. In the past, there was a misinformed belief that a big company cannot fall. It gave rise to the concept of ‘too big to fail’. However, the collapse of Enron, Lehman Brothers, and many other large multinational corporations demonstrates that the concept of ‘too big to fail’ was not true (Tai & Chuang, 2015). Companies all over the world, irrespective of their market capitalization and financial strength, must ensure that they are successful in their market operations to achieve sustainability. It is possible that the large size of these multinational corporations can cushion them from some of the negative forces in the market for some time. However, that can only happen for a short time. Schaerer, Loschelder, and Swaab (2016) say that in the current business environment a firm cannot rely on its large size as the only factor that gives it an edge over its market rivals. In fact, the large size of a company may in some cases work to its disadvantage, especially when change is eminent.

Successful organizations have come to embrace talent management as one of the most important ways of achieving sustainability in the current competitive business environment. According to Schaerera, Kernb, Bergerc, Medvecc, and Swaab (2017), employees form a very important part of an organization. The top management unit is responsible for enacting policies that focuses on overcoming market challenges and taking advantage of the opportunities to achieve the set strategic goals. However, it is the responsibility of the employees to ensure that these strategies are translated into actionable activities and implemented in the right way. Failure of the employees to implement such strategies properly may lead to failure of the organization to achieve the goals set in its strategic plans. Lebel (2016) says that as competition in the market gets stiffer, enterprises are under pressure to ensure that their employees are as efficient as they possibly can be. Companies need employees who are creative, innovative, and committed to their work.

The employees should be capable of interpreting strategies set by the top managers and implementing them in their respective workplaces. They should be capable of coming up with unique and effective solutions to challenges that they may face in their workplace environment. The increasing relevant of talented employees in the modern business environment has made it necessary for companies to invest a lot in employee training to sharpen their skills. Choona and Embi (2012) say that talent management involves creating an innovative environment where employees can explore their skills without the fear of intimidation. It involves supporting employees through various strategies to help bring out their hidden talent. It also entails properly motivating them through attractive remuneration and other approaches to ensure that they do not consider moving to other companies.

The United Arab Emirates is currently one of the fastest developing economies in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) (Badra, 2016). It is currently the largest economy in the region, after the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The city of Dubai has become a major global business hub and a top tourists’ destination. Many multinational companies are currently operating in this city, which is a sign that it has grown in relevance as a global business center. The local companies operating in this country must understand the growing competition in the local market and the need to improve the efficiency in their operations (Rusua, Avasilcăia, & Huțu, 2016). The government protection that the local companies enjoyed in the recent past is no longer available as the local market becomes liberalized to promote diversity in the local economy. The multinational enterprises in the United Arab Emirates need to understand that their ability to achieve success depends on the skills and competence of their employees. That can only be achieved through proper talent management.

The paper is important because it will explain the relevance of talent management among the multinational enterprises in the United Arab Emirates. It will explain why it is important for these companies to embrace the concept of talent management as they seek to achieve sustainability in their operations. This paper will investigate whether the local companies understand the relevance of talent management and what they are doing about it. For a long time, the local business environment was not exposed to stiff competition in the market. However, the rapid growth of the city of Dubai has opened up the entire country to international trade. As such, companies operating in the local market are open to challenges that global companies face in major cities such as New York, London, Paris, Tokyo, and Berlin among other top global business centers. This report will look at how the local companies that have come to embrace talent management are going about it. It will look at whether they are doing it in the right manner and measures that may be taken to improve their strategies. The study will also look at the benefits of talent management. As Tröster, Mehra, and Knippenberg, (2014) say, talent management involves investing significant amount of resources in recruiting, training, and retaining highly skilled employees. The returns from such investment should be equally lucrative to justify the need for these companies to embrace the concept.

Literature Review

Talent management is not a new concept in the modern business environment. It is important to look at what other scholars have found out in this field of management before focusing on primary data collection. According to Sy and Choi (2013), when conducting research, it is important to have a review of literature first before embarking on primary data collection. The process helps in duplication of already existing information. A new study should shed new light into a given field of knowledge. It is not appropriate to reproduce already available information in a given field of knowledge. Literature review helps in identifying research gaps, and the manner in which they can be addressed. Review of literature also provides background information upon which a researcher would build his or her study (Tang, King, & Kay, 2017). That is why this is an important section of the report. The researcher collected data from peer-reviewed journal articles from trusted online databases.

Talent Management at Global Level

According to Whitea, Stackhouseb, and Argo (2017), talent management has increasingly become relevant in the modern business environment as firms struggle to achieve success in the market. Massive development in the field of transport and communication has transformed the world into a global market. It is now easy for an American firm to operate in the European, Asian, and African markets because of improved communication and transport systems. The emergence of regional and global trading blocks such as the World Trade Organization and GCC has also liberalized the global market. The trade barriers that existed before have been eliminated as countries try to comply with global and regional policies that seek to promote international trade. Many multinational corporations have taken advantage of this liberalized market to expand their operations beyond their national borders. According to Akram, Lei, Haider (2016), as firms seek to take advantage of the opportunities in the global market, new challenges are emerging which must be dealt with to effectively for success to be guaranteed. Successful organizations have learnt how to promote talent among their workforces as a way of remaining competitive in the market. Many multinational corporations have come up with various strategies to empower their employees (Leonga & Rasli, 2014). It is important to look at how some of the leading corporations around the world are managing talent among their employees.

Talent management at Apple Inc

Apple Inc. is one of the most trusted brands in the global electronic market. According to Khan (2015), Apple Inc. has stood out among the rest of the companies in the electronics market as one of the most innovative companies in the world. Steve Jobs, one of the founders of this company and its long-serving chief executive officer, realized that this company needed effective strategies to combat various challenges in the market, top of which was stiff competition in the local and international market (Yesil & Sozbilir, 2013). He initiated a talent search and promotion initiative at the firm to help create a pool of highly creative and innovative employees. The main concern for Steve Jobs was to ensure that the firm’s products were flawless and met the needs of the customers in the best way possible. To achieve that target, he realized that his employees had to be empowered in a way that they would be capable of understanding the needs of the customers through market research and able to develop products that exceeded such expectations (Tastan, 2013). Talent management at Apple Inc. made it possible for the company to come up with some of the finest products in the electronic market. In 2012, it was ranked the second best brand in the world after Coca Cola, with a dollar value of $ 76,568 million. In 2013, it became the best brand globally, a position it was able to retain in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017. The company has earned a reputation as one that is keen on creating and retaining its pool of highly talented employees (Khan, 2015). It has also registered impressive growth in its market share over the same period as it struggles to manage stiff competition from other global electronic companies such as Samsung.

Talent management at Alphabet Inc

Alphabet Inc., the parent company for Google LLC, is one of the leading technology companies in the current global market. The company has taken a lead in revolutionizing the internet technology and many other areas (Ketkar & Puri, 2017). The company is also one of the global organizations, which have taken a leading role in inventing cars that use green energy instead of fossil fuel. The strategy of diversifying its products is directly attributed to its innovative employees who are keen on using new trends to address emerging issues that the company faces (Gibsona, Hararib, Marr, 2017). Alphabet Inc. has created a center for innovation at its headquarters to help it nature talents. At its talent center, employees with innovative skills are offered a perfect environment and support from the management to help them transform the ideas into practical strategies that can help the company achieve greater success. The innovation center is fully funded by the management of this company.

According to Nair and Salleh (2015), for an employee to be creative, he or she needs an environment that is tolerant and understanding. It is common for an employee to make a mistake when trying to undertake a given task in a different way for the first time (Apak, Gumus, Oner, & Gumus, 2016). When one commits a mistake, it is the responsibility of the supervisors and the responsible managers to investigate and understand why the mistake was committed. If it is established that the mistake arose from the desire of the employee to be creative, such an employee should be assisted to avoid similar mistakes in the future. They need to get support so that the path towards growth is not affected. That is the management approach that Alphabet Inc has embraced to ensure that it natures talent among its employees. The strategy has proven successful for this company.

Talent management at Toyota Corporation

Toyota Motor Corporation is the world’s largest can manufacturer, the fifth largest company in the world in terms of revenue, and the largest company in Japan in terms of market capitalization (Kobayashi, 2013). The company was able to outsmart American and European top car manufacturers because of the strategies it put in place in the 1980s and 1990s, including people management strategy. The company was quick to understand the growing market for cheap but efficient cars, and it moved with speed to provide just that. Keen on avoiding high remunerations, which would increase the cost of production, the company embraced a strategy that emphasized on reward. It created a room for their employees to be creative and rewarded them every time they came up with new ways of delivering their service in a better way (Arnăutua & Panc, 2015). Today, the company remains the leading producer and marketer of cars in the global market because of its innovative strategies. Using both monetary and non-monetary incentives, the company has been able to create and retain talent in its various departments. It has also taken full advantage of the Japanese work culture and ethics to ensure that it gets the best out of its employees.

Talent Management in the United Arab Emirates’ Local Multinational Enterprises

The United Arab Emirates’ economy has registered impressive growth over the past decade (Weisiger & Yarhi-Milo, 2015). The government has made heavy investment to help in the diversification of the local economy and to reduce overreliance on oil and gas sectors. In a report by Bremmer (2014), the United Arab Emirates currently has one of the most developed road and rail infrastructure in the world, especially in its city of Dubai. The government has invested a lot in the transport sector to facilitate trade. The city of Dubai has become a leading tourists’ destination and a business hub. The infrastructural development in the country has promoted growth of business in the country. Numerous local and international companies have emerged to take advantage of the business environment that has been created. Bremmer (2014) says that the government has also been keen on supporting growth of trade, a move that has attracted so many international corporations keen on tapping into the local economy. As competition continues to increase among local companies, talent management has become a critical tool for companies to protect their market share and remain sustainable in their operations. In Dubai, competition in some of the industries is so harsh that only the most innovative firms can survive. According to Nair and Salleh (2015), many companies in Europe and North America have been serious when it comes to talent management. However, the concept is just gaining popularity in the Middle East as the region gains strategic importance in international trade, especially for East Asian companies targeting the African and Middle East market. In this section, it is important to look at how some of the local companies have embraced talent management as a means of remaining relevant and competitive in the market.

Emirates Telecommunications Corporation

The company is a leading telecommunication firm that operates across 16 countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia (Bremmer, 2014). Founded in 1976, the company has registered impressive growth over the years to become one of the leading employers in the United Arab Emirates. It has its headquarters in Abu Dhabi. The main products offered by this company include internet services, mobile and fixed mobile telephony, and digital television services. The company faces stiff competition from Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company locally, and a host of other telecommunication companies in the regional and international market (Bremmer, 2014). To achieve success in the market, this firm has been keen on promoting talent among its employees. The firm has embraced a reward system of promoting and managing talents among employees. Knowing the kind of competition and other challenges in the local and global market, this firm has introduced a system where employees are taken through regular training to enable them understand the changing market expectations. Although it has not come up with a fully established innovation center, the management has been keen on promoting creativity among its employees. In its reward strategy, the company has been compensating its employees for their extra effort as a way of appreciating them (Arnăutua & Panc, 2015). Etisalat is currently one of the leading regional telecommunication companies in the regional market, keen on meeting the needs of its employees in unique ways.

Abu Dhabi National Oil Company

ADNOC is one of the largest companies in the United Arab Emirates, having its headquarters in Abu Dhabi (Ather, AbdelAziz, Salloum, Marzouk, & El-Sayegh, 2016). This government corporation is the leading employer in the country and it is responsible for the exploration, extraction, and sale of oil and gas in the international market. According to (Fidalgo & Matias, 2016), ADNOC is one of the leading companies in the global oil market. Like many other companies in the oil and gas industry, ADNOC has been adversely affected by the fluctuating prices of oil and gas over the past three years. The management of this firm has been keen on coming up with innovative ways of solving this problem. At first, it responded to this problem by lowering its production and through downsizing (Nair & Salleh, 2015). However, it became apparent that these strategies were not sustainable and the company had to look for alternative strategies. The company is now using various innovative approaches to achieve its strategic goals. One of its strategies is to empower its employees through regular training (Leonga & Rasli, 2014). The company has invested in the training of its employees as it seeks to promote a learning culture and innovation. Most of the training sessions are conducted on job, where experts come and work closely with employees to impart practical skills on them. The company has also sponsored some of its employees to local and international institutions of higher learning to sharpen their skills. Through these strategies, this company seeks to create and manage a pool of highly talented employees.

Al Ghurair Group

A Ghurair Group is a large conglomerate that has its headquarters in the city of Dubai. Founded in 1960, the company operates in various industries, from food, packaging, shopping malls, and real estate, to printing, film, and metal among others. The company has registered impressive performance over the past decade as it expands its market share beyond the United Arab Emirates. The company currently operates in the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, Europe, and part of North America. The company has been keen on hiring host country and third country nationals in various markets where it operates. Locally in the United Arab Emirates, the firm has a considerable number of foreign experts in its various departments. The company is yet to come up with clear talent management systems, but like many other local companies, it is embracing compensatory approach to retaining its talented employees. The company has been working closely with the Khalifa Innovation Center, a government entity that was founded in 2015 by the government of Dubai, to promote talent (Fidalgo & Matias, 2016). The company has hired some of the graduates from this talent center.

Role of Managers in Talent Management

According to Choona and Embi (2012), talent management is becoming a critical aspect of management that companies cannot ignore in the current competitive business environment. Managers have a critical role to play in talent management. As the policy-makers, they have the mandate of coming up with plans on how to conduct regular trainings for the employees to promote talents. When the managers are developing the budget, a considerable sum of money should be set aside specifically for the training of employees at least once a year. Other than providing the funds, Lebel (2016) says that managers should also identify areas where training is necessary. They need to compare capabilities of their employees and job requirements with the view of identifying training gaps. The employees should be informed about these gaps, and the manner in which they will be addressed through training to ensure that they are fully prepared for such processes. During and after training, the managers should create an enabling environment where these employees can test their newly learned skills in a practical environment. They should be supported and whenever they make mistakes, the managers should help them learn from them instead of using punitive measures.

Role of Employees in Talent Management

Employees also need to understand that they have a critical role to play in talent management. Badra (2016) says that talent management is not just the responsibility of the management unit. Junior employees should also be active in nurturing talents because they are the center of attention in talent management. One of the ways of being involved is to think creatively how they can undertake various tasks in their respective departments differently and in innovative ways. They should be capable of engaging themselves and discussing new ways of delivering on their mandate (Arnăutua & Panc, 2015). When necessary, they can work as teams to identify areas of weaknesses that need to be addressed through training. They should also engage the managers, always informing them about the emerging trends and areas that need attention. The employees should develop personal commitment whenever they are in training sessions. They should ensure that they come out with new better ways of delivering service to their organization.

Benefits of Talent Management for the United Arab Emirates’ Multinational Enterprises

The multinational enterprises in the United Arab Emirates and many other parts of the world are investing considerable amount of resources in talent management efforts. It is important to understand the relevance of talent management and the need to embrace it in the local competitive business environment. According to Sy and Choi (2013), talent management is one of the most important tools needed to enhance creativity and innovativeness among the employees. Everyone has some special talent and it may need some form of training and motivation for one to understand that they have such skills and are capable of improving their service delivery when they are used effectively. Through talent management, employees tend to be more creative because they are constantly reminded that they have the capacity to deliver better results if they put in more effort and commitment in their work. Having a team of highly innovative employees is critical in the current competitive business environment (Yesil & Sozbilir, 2013). It makes it possible for a firm to come up with new products and production approaches in the market.

According to Leonga and Rasli (2014), talent management promotes change in an organizational setting. One of the most challenging tasks that managers face in their respective organizations is change management. People tend to fear change for various reasons. Some fear change because of the unknown turn of events that may affect their positions within the firm. Others feel that change may bring about new approaches and demands, which are completely off their capabilities. Tastan (2013) says that there are those who are just comfortable with things as they are, and believe in maintaining the status quo. However, change can neither be ignored nor wished away. When a new trend emerges, managers must put in place systems and structures that will facilitate change. It is also their responsibility to ensure that there is as minimal resistance towards the new systems and structures as possible. Talent management makes it easy to initiate and support change within an organization. It creates new ideas and skills among employees that can enable them understand the emerging needs in their workplace. Such employees rarely resist change. Instead, they take leading roles in finding effective ways of embracing it in the most effective ways possible (Nair & Salleh, 2015). They become agents of change, keen on identifying new needs and they can be met through new strategies.

Talent management promotes engagement within an organizational setting, as Nair and Salleh (2015) observes. Many organizations consider regular employee training as a means of promoting talent. During such sessions, employees get together and share ideas in relations to their workplace. It promotes team spirit as they learn to address challenges that they face as a unit. They also get to know the importance of sharing ideas and solutions to the problems that they face amongst themselves. Tastan (2013) says that in the current competitive business environment, companies have to embrace a leadership style that emphasizes on close relationship between managers and the employees. During training sessions, both managers and employees are trained on the best engagement approaches they need to embrace. The employees are trained on how to address their issues to the top managers whenever they feel it is necessary to do so. They are also informed about issues that may need attention of top managers and issues that can be addressed by the supervisors or junior managers (Arnăutua & Panc, 2015). Through such regular training, an organization will have an environment where employees understand how they should relate amongst themselves and with their managers.


The literature review above clearly demonstrates the significance of talent management in the modern business environment. It is clear that companies can no longer ignore the need to empower their employees. The output of every individual employee within an organization defines its ability to succeed in the market. Many organizations are now investing heavily in the training and empowerment of their employees as a way of promoting their talent. The researcher developed hypotheses based on the information that was collected from the review of the literature. The following are the hypotheses that the researcher seeks to confirm through primary data collection and analysis.

  • H1. Talent management is highly relevant in the modern business environment
  • H2. Local companies in the United Arab Emirates understand the relevance of talent management
  • H3. Local multinational enterprises in the United Arab Emirates are managing talents within their workforce multimodal approach


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