Dean's Perceptions of Leadership Strategies Used to Manage a Multicultural Faculty Environment in Saudi Arabia

Tuesday, 31 October 2017: 8:00 AM

Sanaa Awwad Alsulami, MSN
School of Nursing, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA
Gwen Sherwood, PhD, RN, FAAN
School of Nursing, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Chapel hill, NC, USA

Background: Hospitals in Saudi Arabia rely on expatriate nurses with different cultural backgrounds and linguistics. Expatriate nurses from countries other than Saudi Arabia bring a diversity of opinions, ideas, and approaches which can contribute to misunderstandings or failure to recognize the significance of local cultural norms. Faculty in schools of nursing in Saudi Arabia represent the same workforce diversity. Expatriate faculty represent different nationalities, cultural values, beliefs, customs, behaviors, and attitudes that can differ from co-workers, students, and employers. Leaders of multicultural workplaces face issues that might impact the work performance such as language barriers, cultural awareness, and employee values (McLaurin, 2012). However, still no studies have examined the experience of leading a largely expatriate academic environment.

Objective: To examine the deans’ perspective on leadership strategies used in leading a multicultural faculty environment and how this influences their school’s outcomes.

Method: A descriptive cross-sectional qualitative design was chosen for the study. After IRB approval, semi-structured interviews were conducted with a convenience sample of five deans of schools of nursing in Saudi Arabia via Skype. Interviews ranging from 30 minutes to one hour were taped and transcribed. For coding and interpreting the interviews, the qualitative data was analyzed descriptively by hand (line-by-line and word-by-word).

Results: Data analysis reveals that five deans are Saudis; two have non-nursing advanced degrees in nursing. Each dean reported that 70% to 90% non-Saudi faculty from Egypt, India, Sudan, United Kingdom, South Africa, Philippine, and others are representing different values, beliefs, language, and views of nursing that may vary from Saudi nationals. Descriptive categories emerged: (1) challenges and opportunities facing Saudi deans including multiculturalism, faculty cultural adjustments, maintaining fairness and open communication (2) leadership strategies including transparency of actions, effective communication, mentoring, having a clear vision, and considering the others’ personal identity, and (3) the impact of cultural diversity on school outcomes provided appropriate skill mix, mentoring, and consideration and openness to multiple views of nursing, educational approaches, mindsets, preferences, and languages.

Conclusion: Deans of Saudi schools of nursing experience both challenges from leading a multicultural workforce and benefits from its positive impacts on the faculty members themselves, students, and the school’s outcomes. The results of this qualitative pilot study can be used to enable deans in the future to prepare and foster an effective multicultural work setting for improving schools’ outcomes.