The purpose of this study was to identify the factors influencing academic mobility decisions among full-time U.S. academic staff at participating institutions of higher education (IHEs) in the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC): Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. Mixed-methodology was used and data were collected through a survey and interview. For the quantitative section, descriptive statistics were used to outline a profile of U.S. academics working at 16 different institutions in the GCC. For the purposes of describing the dataset, the 194 survey respondents were sorted into three groups: those with GCC ties, those with U.S. ties, and those with neither. Chi-squared and ANOVA analyses were performed to compare groups by regional ties and to identify relationships between variables. Multivariable linear regression modeling was performed to determine the influence of push and pull factors affecting mobility decisions. Similar modeling was used to identify factors affecting satisfaction. Normality of the model residuals were assessed using the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test. The second part of the data collection was conducted through in-depth, semi-structured interviews of 21 faculty and academic staff. Dominant themes and subthemes that emerged from individual narratives were coded and analyzed using QSR NVivo10 10 (QSR International Pty Ltd Version 10, 2012). Findings from the quantitative analysis show that while the push factor of a weak U.S. academic job market had a moderate influence across all groups- it was less influential than a series of pull factors (professional opportunity, financial incentives, travel, international experiences, benefits package, and tax exemptions) and was more influential than a second group of pull factors, (research interests, international experience for children, institutional ties, spouse employment, cultural ties and family in the region). Respondents who 1) were early-career academics, 2) found their position through an online job search, and 3) did not have a job to return to in the U.S. were the most pushed by the U.S. job market . Within the group of pull factors, professional opportunity was the most influential across all groups, followed closely by financial incentives and travel. Cultural ties and family in the region were influential pull forces only for respondents with ties to the GCC (22%), particularly those who were married. As a whole, respondents were most satisfied with travel opportunities and least satisfied with promotion policies, interdepartmental communication and administration. Primary motivations for working in the GCC that emerged from the qualitative data were cultural-heritage ties, financial incentives, professional opportunity, international experience for self or children, spouse transfer and the weak U.S. academic job market. Additional influencing factors were family, ethnic/religious identity, previous international experience, institutional links, the ability to teach in English, research-related concerns, and job security. In conclusion, findings showed that gender and family dynamics weigh heavily in academic mobility decisions. Women are more likely to follow their partners abroad than vice versa. Individuals with prior international experience are more likely to consider a transnational academic career. Finally, the academic job market is becoming more global as more individuals seek out international academic opportunities independently through online searches and networking.
University of Minnesota D.Ed. dissertation.January 2016. Major: Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development. Advisors: Deanne Magnusson, Darwin Hendel. 1 computer file (PDF); xv, 278 pages.
Academic Mobility: The Transnational Flow of U.S. Academic Staff to Higher Education Institutions in the Countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
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