Pygmalion going international: Self-fulfilling prophecy in a non-Western multicultural expatriate context

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Abstract

Purpose: The paper presents an empirical account of self-fulfilling prophecy in a multicultural expatriate context of the Arabian Gulf (Sultanate of Oman). The purpose of this paper is to explore the link between managerial expectations of the effects of cultural diversity and workgroup performance. Design/methodology/approach: This exploratory study uses a qualitative interpretive approach based on the data collected through semi-structured interviews. The participants were Omani managers in charge of multicultural expatriate workgroups. Findings: Managerial expectations of the effects of multiculturalism on workgroup dynamics are linked to three dimensions of performance effectiveness, including the production function, the member support function and the group wellbeing function. The Pygmalion process, as applied to the multicultural expatriate context of this study, emerged as an integral part of positive organizational scholarship. Research limitations/implications: The data were collected in one country only, which limits the conclusions about the universal applicability of the Pygmalion theory. The boundary conditions were defined by the cultural characteristics of the research setting: collectivism, high power distance, high uncertainty avoidance, moderate masculinity/femininity. Practical implications: For managers in charge of multicultural workgroups, the study provides motivation to project positive and affirmative expectations of multiculturalism, which is likely to lead to enhanced workgroup performance. Originality/value: In examining the self-fulfilling prophecy phenomenon, this study transcends Western educational, military and industrial research contexts to investigate the Pygmalion process in a non-Western multicultural expatriate environment. The study contributes to unraveling the inconsistencies in findings on the relationship between cultural diversity and workgroup performance by highlighting the role of managerial expectations of multiculturalism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)260-272
Number of pages13
JournalTeam Performance Management
Volume23
Issue number5-6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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Keywords

  • Expatriate
  • Multicultural
  • Multicultural workgroups
  • Performance effectiveness
  • Qualitative semi-structured interview
  • Self-fulfilling prophecy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Management of Technology and Innovation

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