Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship among cultural values, using the dimension of power distance (PD), and employee job satisfaction in engineering firms in United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia.
Design/methodology/approach - A well-known leading survey design, the Value Survey Module 94 developed by Hofstede (1980), is used in measuring PD as a quantitative methodology in the form of a questionnaire survey in UAE and Saudi Arabia.
Findings - Power distance index (PDI) show variation not only at country level, but also at firm level. Consultative is found to be the most preferred manager type by the employees. Employees perceiving their managers to be consultative are the least afraid of disagreement with their managers. "Work", "co-workers" and "operating procedures" find to be the major job satisfaction facets while "opportunities for promotion" and "reward" are the least attracted to job satisfaction. Age is found positively correlated with "pay", "work", "opportunities for promotion" and "benefits". "Work" and educational qualification of the employees are negatively correlated but no significant correlations appear to exist with other job satisfaction facets. No significant correlation existed between education level and PDI is found.
Originality/value - This paper is one of the first studies on PD and job satisfaction in UAE and Saudi Arabia. This can provide significant insight of how the Middle East countries, UAE and Saudi Arabia, react with globalization in the recent years. Recommendations for improving the existing job satisfaction in the Middle East countries are also explored.
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