The influence of social media on expatriate teacher recruitment and retention in public schools in Abu Dhabi

  • Daisy Johnson

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education (EdD)


The recruitment and retention of teachers has been the subject of much debate and consternation over the last two decades given teacher shortages and high attrition rates seen in some contexts. While many factors have been attributed to this phenomenon, very little consideration has been given to the influence of social media on the recruitment and retention of expatriate teachers in educational discourse.

Utilising the uses and gratifications theory as the main theoretical framework and a mixed methods approach, this study establishes the influence of social media on expatriate teacher recruitment and retention in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. Online surveys provided breadth and scope while focus group interviews offered the explanations that are necessary from a critical realist perspective.

Quantitative analysis of online survey data revealed the importance of social media in enabling expatriate teachers to maintain connections and relationships with family and friends in their home country confirming the views expressed in the reviewed literature of social needs as a major driver for using social media. Qualitative data analysis highlighted the overall importance of social media to expatriate teachers in finding information and sharing resources before moving to Abu Dhabi, and, during their time in the emirate. The active nature of expatriate teachers in their selection of which social media platforms to use and to which groups they participated in based on their needs at a given time was evident highlighting the goal-directed nature of social media use by expatriate teachers. The informational and emotional support offered to expatriate teachers on social media, while not experienced by all teachers, was valuable to those who received it, thus supporting their determination to remain employed in Abu Dhabi. While the support offered by family and friends differed to that offered by other expatriate teachers, the positive effect this had on retention was evident in this study.

This study contributes to the scant literature on the influence of social media on expatriate teacher recruitment and retention and draws attention to key considerations applicable to the Abu Dhabi context. Further research in this area can draw on some of the insights highlighted in this context and support policy makers and those tasked with staffing schools to harness the power of social media to meet the staffing requirements of schools both locally and on the global arena.
Date of Award17 Feb 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorHugh Lauder (Supervisor) & Tristan Bunnell (Supervisor)

Cite this