Saudi Aramco: An Examination into the Turnover of Expatriate Employees (2009)

Saudi Aramco has become a colossal organisation since its beginnings in 1933. The company nationalised over the past few decades, and since then expatriate related issues have become a particular concern. The turnover rate for expatriate assignments is especially high, which in turn creates a series of compounding negative effects including extra incurred costs, diverted company resources, and damage to reputation. Despite the continuing trend of the high turnover rate, the company continues to accept it and risk the possibility of paying with funds and resources, rather than invest in training and other preparative efforts. Numerous studies have been performed on expatriate turnover, general turnover, and turnover rates in Saudi Arabia.

The overwhelming majority of studies have found that the main causes of high turnover are related to low job satisfaction, while this is best prevented through adequate preparation for the job, culture training, and continued support throughout the assignment. The most efficient preventative measures against failure have been found to be adjustment training including language and communication skills, and mentoring to include local networking and customs integration. While the costs of these efforts are comparable to the costs associated with failure and replacement, Saudi Aramco continues to place its efforts towards HR enhancement and expansion in technology and domestic assistance, and thus the turnover rate trends for expatriates continues.

This study examines the underlying causes of assignment failure of expatriates through literature relating to Saudi Arabia and through the case study of Saudi Aramco. The research examines the reasoning behind the high turnover rate, and postulates what can be done to prevent it. Retention, job satisfaction, motivation, and training are considered in attempt to find feasible solutions for companies such as Saudi Aramco. Best practices in HR and turnover prevention are considered, while the primary data source aims to gain the feedback from former expatriates and compare to the literature.

Over 100 expatriates were surveyed with regards to their experiences on a foreign assignment, while multiple HR representatives from the company were interviewed for insight into the reasoning behind the company’s neglect and possible plans for the future. This information is analysed and compared to the known statistics and HR practices for the company, while solutions are suggested that fit into the current HR structure.

Ultimately, this study concludes that Saudi Aramco could easily divert a significant amount of its growing HR operations, or take on more resources in this area for that matter, and employ it towards adequate expatriate training through cultural preparation and mentoring. Former expatriates have reporting problem areas and general experiences entirely in agreement with the literature suggesting mentoring and acculturation training as a means to prevent high turnover, while HR representative from Saudi Aramco report neglect towards the high turnover rate in hopes the trend will change on its own.

Further research is suggested in the areas of the effectiveness of online teaching for purposes of language and acculturation, as Saudi Aramco’s recent e-Learning program could implement solutions to the expatriate turnover problem with high levels of efficiency and minimal investment should this be found to be an adequate means of preparation. Mentoring, meanwhile, requires personal connections for foreign networking, and thus the most efficient ways of mentoring large groups of people in a foreign country is another relevant area for further research, especially as efficiency and cost-effectiveness appear to be underlying reasons behind Saudi Aramco’s current levels of neglect.

  • 18,000 words – 68 pages in length
  • Excellent use of literature
  • Excellent analysis of subject area
  • Well written throughout
  • Includes questionnaire
  • Ideal for international HRM students

1: Introduction
Development of Saudi Aramco and Facilities
High Expatriate Turnover Rate and Related Problems
Primary Aim and Objective
Statement of Research Questions
Research Limitations
Dissertation Structure

2: Literature Review
Nationalisation of Aramco
Expatriate Turnover in Saudi Arabia
Tendency for Employee Turnover
Job Satisfaction
HR Strategies for Expatriate Development
Saudi Aramco HR Practice
HR Role in Job Satisfaction
Pre-Assignment Strategies for HR
Repatriation: Confidence in The Future

3: Research Methods
Primary Data Sources
Secondary Data Sources
Sample Size of Primary Data
Methods of Data Analysis
The Pilot Study
Research Direction
Primary Data Source
Sampling Techniques
Sample Size of Primary Data
Distribution Methods
Secondary Data Sources
Data Analysis
Reliability and Ethics

4: Analysis
Sample Distribution
Survey Results
Results of Interviews
Secondary Data
Summary of Findings

5: Conclusion

6: Further Research


Appendix Section
Interview Questions

Turnover of Expatriate Employees at Saudi Aramco - HRM Dissertation
Turnover of Expatriate Employees at Saudi Aramco – HRM Dissertation

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