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This book provides state-of-the art research on expatriate management from a European perspective. Considering issues related to the different phases of expatriation and comprehensive contemporary topics of expatriate management, the chapters present a long overdue holistic approach to the field. Rather than just publishing a counterweight to the predominant North American literature, Expatriate Management includes critical analyses of each chapter written by a number of renowned North American scholars to review and contribute to the trans-Atlantic dialogue.



1. Motivations of Global Careers Among Expatriates in German Companies: A Comparison with the Year 2002

This study analyzes the motives of expatriates to go abroad, replicating and extending the part on expatriate motives of a study originally published by Stahl, Miller, and Tung (2002a). Doing so, it allows to account for the change of motives between 2002 and 2015 of expatriates in German companies to accept an international assignment. Findings indicate that while the originally most important motives, “personal challenge” and “opportunities for professional development,” are still the most important ones, there was some interesting development leading to the notion that boundaryless and protean careers gained in importance. Moreover, an analysis distinguishing between different age cohorts gives additional insights in the motivation and reasons to go abroad depending on the generation people belong to. Finally, all findings are discussed in the light of recent research, and implications for future research are derived.
Benjamin Bader

2. An Experience-based Typology of the International Workforce

To limit ambiguity in international business, firms often prioritize employees with international experience as they may contribute with complex knowledge of specific cultures and/or general and cross-cultural competence. Yet, hitherto literature has failed to consistently delineate employees endowed with cultural competence. Hence, we intend to clarify the differentiation of the classifications for internationally experienced employees. For this purpose, the term internationally skilled mobile employee (ISME) is introduced. By conceptualizing a novel typology, we comprehensively structure the differing cultural competencies of ISMEs according to the dimensions “depth of culture-specific knowledge” and “breadth of culture-general competence” and discuss implications for theory and practice.
Julia Raupp, Jonas Puck

3. Language Barriers in Different Forms of International Assignments

International business activities are always accompanied by language-related barriers as companies are confronted with multiple local languages and a multinational workforce. To increase the efficiency of corporate communication, documentation and cross-national teamwork, an increasing number of companies have implemented common language policies in both their headquarters and their foreign subsidiaries and made English their official corporate language. However, introducing a common corporate language also creates friction among a multinational firm’s workforce and is fraught with challenges. To deepen our understanding of the language-related barriers that expatriates experience during international assignments, this study takes different tasks expatriates have to execute while being abroad into account and shows which types of international assignments are particularly vulnerable to the language effects. In particular, the study reveals that language causes negative emotional responses among employees of multinational corporations, restrains a common social identity, constitutes an obstacle to trust building and distorts organizational power relations. Finally, the study illustrates that not only a low absolute language proficiency of expatriates and local colleagues but also relative differences in proficiency levels among the multinational corporation’s workforce can hamper expatriate success.
Helene Tenzer, Tassilo Schuster

4. A Social Network Perspective on International Assignments: The Role of Social Support

The social environment of expatriates is a crucial factor for various desired outcomes of international assignments such as psychological well-being, cultural adjustment, job satisfaction, and performance. However, literature on expatriates’ social environment either considers social support as a theoretical link to explain the relationship between social network characteristics and performance or measures it on a global scale in contrast to a meaningful latent construct. By applying confirmatory factor analysis using data from 435 expatriates, this book chapter aims at providing guidance on how the construct social support should be employed in future studies. The book chapter contributes to the expatriate literature by developing a sound conceptual model regarding social support, recommending an appropriate measurement of the construct, and showing that social support should not be treated as one global construct. Instead, the results suggest to account for three different dimensions that should be measured separately in order to avoid a misdirected, short-falling application of the construct.
Tassilo Schuster, Benjamin Bader

5. The Effect of Host Country Nationals’ Social Support on Expatriates’ Adjustment—A Multiple Stakeholder Approach

The social support provided by host country nationals (HCNs) has been identified as an important source of successful expatriation. However, the roles of different HCN actors have not yet been sufficiently differentiated in this process. Drawing on social support theory and conservation of resources theory, this chapter aims to fill this void by investigating the impact of social support provided by five groups of HCN actors on expatriates’ cross-cultural adjustment: HCN top management team members, supervisors, colleagues, and subordinates in the work domain, as well as friends in the non-work domain. The resulting model suggests that all these HCN actors can increase expatriates’ adjustment; however, colleagues in the work domain and friends in the non-work domain have the highest influence on all types of adjustments.
Anna Katharina Bader

6. The Influence of the Cultural Context on Expatriate Adjustment

While the expatriate management literature has shown the importance of the cultural context for expatriate adjustment, empirical evidence on the role of cultural distance remains mixed. We corroborate the expatriate management literature by developing a conceptual rationale for different mechanisms (underestimation effect, motivation and support effects, and complexity effect) linking cultural distance and expatriate adjustment that lead to a curvilinear relationship between the two constructs. Additionally, we introduce cultural tightness and attractiveness into the expatriate management context and posit that cultural tightness and attractiveness exert a moderating influence on the effect of cultural distance on expatriate adjustment. Specifically, we theorize that tightness negatively moderates the relationship between cultural distance and expatriate adjustment while attractiveness should exert a positive moderating effect.
Matthias Baum, Rodrigo Isidor

7. What Do they Expect, and What Do We Need to Offer? A Classification of Repatriation Strategies from the MNC Perspective

Despite considerable research on the topic today, repatriation remains a struggle for MNCs. Difficulties thereby frequently revolve around the matter of repatriate careers. Upon return from international assignments, employees tend to expect a promotion as reward for their efforts overseas. Performance decreases and turnovers are otherwise likely. For the firm, this entails the risk of a withdrawal of the potentially valuable human capital repatriates gained abroad. Yet, providing every returnee with a more attractive position in consequence of an international assignment is no solution to the problem, as this would require extensive corporate resources. Differences between assignments must thus be taken into account to be able to decide for which employees the experience should serve as career steppingstone, and how to handle the return of those for which it should not. This study draws on the resource-based view and psychological contract theory to develop a set of repatriation strategies that integrates organizational and individual interests to provide MNCs with diverse approaches to managing returnees. We then derive organizational prerequisites for the successful implementation of those strategies. We thereby offer a concrete approach to solving the MNCs’ career-related struggle upon repatriation.
Anika Breitenmoser, Nicola Berg

8. Repatriate Knowledge Transfer: A Systematic Review of the Literature

Expatriates acquire highly valuable knowledge during their international assignments, but knowledge transfer upon their return to the domestic organization often fails. Since the first empirical study in 2000, scholars have advanced the competency-based view of repatriation by developing conceptual models of repatriate knowledge transfer and examining the antecedents of successful transfer attempts. However, much empirical research still remains to be done. In order to guide future empirical research, I present the results of a systematic review of the literature on repatriate knowledge transfer between 2000 and 2015. The extant research results are synthesized into a multilevel framework that consists of factors on the individual, dyadic, and organizational level that influence repatriate knowledge transfer success. In addition, I identify theoretical and methodological shortcomings of the literature, and discuss avenues for future research as well as implications for practitioners.
Anne Burmeister

9. Expatriate Managers from Emerging Economy Firms

In this study we focus on the specifics that expatriate managers from emerging economy firms face during their foreign assignment. Drawing on previous research, we corroborate the expatriate management literature by theorizing about the particular mechanisms that foster or threaten expatriates’ task performance of emerging economy multinational companies. Specifically, we elaborate on the asymmetries between emerging economy and developed country expatriate managers and investigate the resulting advantages and challenges for expatriate managers from emerging economies when they perform foreign assignments. In doing so, we articulate comparative disadvantage mechanisms (liabilities of emergingness, liabilities of country of origin and lacking HRM practices) as well as comparative advantage mechanisms (diaspora networks, adaptability to hostile environments, and being proactive in knowledge acquisition).
Nita Abrashi-Smajli, Matthias Baum

10. Expatriate Adjustment: A Review of Concepts, Drivers, and Consequences

Expatriate adjustment has recurrently been linked to predicting the performance of individuals, in that the better the foreign adjustment achieved, the more successfully they will perform (Takeuchi, Wang, & Marinova, Personnel Psychology, 58(4): 925–948, 2005). By reviewing empirical research on expatriate adjustment, we produce a comprehensive overview, expounding the antecedents, dimensions, and effects of expatriate adjustment. More explicitly, the multidimensionality of expatriate adjustment is elucidated, which is structured according to three dimensions, the adjustment to the general environment, adjustment to the work situation, and adjustment to interacting with host nationals. All dimensions are further explained according to individual, work-related, and non-work environmental factors. Moreover, we construct a framework for each of these dimensions, subsuming the findings as examined in prior empirical research.
Jonas Puck, Dirk Holtbrügge, Julia Raupp


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