The Role of Repatriation in and for Global Careers

  • Eren AkkanEmail author
  • Mila Lazarova
  • B. Sebastian Reiche


Repatriation encompasses the phase in which individuals return from an international work experience. Regardless of whether the transition takes place within one organization or across organizations, returning home after working abroad constitutes a critical step for an individual’s future career. In this chapter, we review individuals’ experiences from the expatriation-repatriation transition period with regard to their longer-term career decisions. We take into account the challenges and opportunities that repatriation entails as well as the implications of repatriation for individuals’ global careers, and we suggest areas for further research.


  1. Ajzen, Icek. 1991. The Theory of Planned Behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 50 (2): 179–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Altman, Yochanan, and Yehuda Baruch. 2012. Global Self-Initiated Corporate Expatriate Careers: A New Era in International Assignments? Personnel Review 41 (2): 233–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Antal, Ariane B. 2001. Expatriates’ Contributions to Organizational Learning. Journal of General Management 26 (4): 62–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Arthur, Michael B., Svetlana N. Khapova, and Celeste P.M. Wilderom. 2005. Career Success in a Boundaryless Career World. Journal of Organizational Behavior 26 (2): 177–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Banai, Moshe, and Wes Harry. 2004. Boundaryless Global Careers: The International Itinerants. International Studies of Management & Organization 34 (3): 96–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Baruch, Yehuda, and Yochanan Altman. 2002. Expatriation and Repatriation in MNCs: A Taxonomy. Human Resource Management 41 (2): 239–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Baruch, Yehuda, Yochanan Altman, and Rosalie L. Tung. 2016. Career Mobility in a Global Era: Advances in Managing Expatriation and Repatriation. The Academy of Management Annals 10 (1): 841–889.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Baruch, Yehuda, Michael Dickmann, Yochanan Altman, and Frank Bournois. 2013. Exploring International Work: Types and Dimensions of Global Careers. The International Journal of Human Resource Management 24 (12): 2369–2393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Baruch, Yehuda, and Cristina Reis. 2015. How Global Are Boundaryless Careers and How Boundaryless Are Global Careers? Challenges and a Theoretical Perspective. Thunderbird International Business Review 58 (1): 13–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Becker, Gary S. 1994. Human Capital Revisited. In Human Capital a Theoretical and Empirical Analysis, 3rd ed., 15–28. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  11. Begley, Annette, David G. Collings, and Hugh Scullion. 2008. The Cross-Cultural Adjustment Experiences of Self-Initiated Repatriates to the Republic of Ireland Labour Market. Employee Relations 30 (3): 264–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bird, Allan. 1994. Careers as Repositories of Knowledge: A New Perspective on Boundaryless Careers. Journal of Organizational Behavior 15 (4): 325–344.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Birur, Santosh, and Krishnaveni Muthiah. 2013. Turnover Intentions Among Repatriated Employees in an Emerging Economy: The Indian Experience. The International Journal of Human Resource Management 24 (19): 3667–3680.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Bolino, Mark C. 2007. Expatriate Assignments and Intra-Organizational Career Success: Implications for Individuals and Organizations. Journal of International Business Studies 38 (5): 819–835.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Bossard, Annette B., and Richard B. Peterson. 2005. The Repatriate Experience as Seen by American Expatriates. Journal of World Business 40 (1): 9–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Brewster, Chris, Jaime Bonache, Jean-Luc Cerdin, and Vesa Suutari. 2014. Exploring Expatriate Outcomes. The International Journal of Human Resource Management 25 (14): 1921–1937.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Caligiuri, Paula, and Jaime Bonache. 2016. Evolving and Enduring Challenges in Global Mobility. Journal of World Business 51 (1): 127–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Cappellen, Tineke, and Maddy Janssens. 2005. Career Paths of Global Managers: Towards Future Research. Journal of World Business 40 (4): 348–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Cerdin, Jean-Luc, and Marie Le Pargneux. 2009. Career and International Assignment Fit: Toward an Integrative Model of Success. Human Resource Management 48 (1): 5–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Cesário, F. Santos, Maria José Chambel, and Carolos Guillen. 2014. What if Expatriates Decide to Leave? The Mediation Effect of the Psychological Contract Fulfilment. The Journal of the Iberoamerican Academy of Management 12 (2): 103–122.Google Scholar
  21. Chen, Yu-Ping, and Margaret A. Shaffer. 2016. The Influences of Perceived Organizational Support and Motivation on Self-Initiated Expatriates’ Organizational and Community Embeddedness. Journal of World Business 52 (2): 197–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Chiang, Flora F.T., Emmy van Esch, Thomas A. Birtch, and Margaret A. Shaffer. 2017. Repatriation: What Do We Know and Where Do We Go from Here. The International Journal of Human Resource Management: 1–39.Google Scholar
  23. Dickmann, Michael, and Jean-Luc Cerdin. 2014. Boundaryless Career Drivers—Exploring Macro-Contextual Factors in Location Decisions. Journal of Global Mobility 2 (1): 26–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Dickmann, Michael, and Hilary Harris. 2005. Developing Career Capital for Global Careers: The Role of International Assignments. Journal of World Business 40 (4): 399–408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Dickmann, Michael, Vesa Suutari, Chris Brewster, Liisa Mäkelä, Jussi Tanskanen, and Christelle Tornikoski. 2016. The Career Competencies of Self-Initiated and Assigned Expatriates: Assessing the Development of Career Capital Over Time. The International Journal of Human Resource Management: 1–25. Accessed May 2017.
  26. Feldman, Daniel C. 1991. Repatriate Moves as Career Transitions. Human Resource Management Review 1 (3): 163–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Froese, Fabian Jintae. 2012. Motivation and Adjustment of Self-Initiated Expatriates: The Case of Expatriate Academics in South Korea. The International Journal of Human Resource Management 23 (6): 1095–1112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Furuya, Norihito, Michael J. Stevens, Allan Bird, Gary Oddou, and Mark Mendenhall. 2008. Managing the Learning and Transfer of Global Management Competence: Antecedents and Outcomes of Japanese Repatriation Effectiveness. Journal of International Business Studies 40 (2): 200–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Guo, Chun, Emily Porschitz, and Jose Alvez. 2013. Exploring Career Agency During Self-Initiated Repatriation: A Study of Chinese Sea Turtles. Career Development International 18 (1): 34–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hamori, Monika, and Burak Koyuncu. 2011. Career Advancement in Large Organizations in Europe and the United States: Do International Assignments Add Value? The International Journal of Human Resource Management 22 (4): 843–862.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Herman, Jeffrey L., and Lois E. Tetrick. 2009. Problem-Focused Versus Emotion-Focused Coping Strategies and Repatriation Adjustment. Human Resource Management 48 (1): 69–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Ho, Nga Thi Thuy, Pi-Shen Seet, and Jane Jones. 2015. Understanding Re-Expatriation Intentions Among Overseas Returnees—An Emerging Economy Perspective. The International Journal of Human Resource Management 27 (17): 1938–1966.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hyder, Akmal S., and Mikael Lövblad. 2007. The Repatriation Process—A Realistic Approach. Career Development International 12 (3): 264–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Jassawalla, Avan R., and Hemant C. Sashittal. 2009. Thinking Strategically About Integrating Repatriated Managers in MNCs. Human Resource Management 48 (5): 769–792.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Jokinen, Tiina. 2010. Development of Career Capital Through International Assignments and Its Transferability to New Contexts. Thunderbird International Business Review 52 (4): 325–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Judge, Timothy, Daniel M. Cable, John W. Boudreau, and Robert D. Bretz. 1995. An Empirical Investigation of the Predictors of Executive Career Success. Personnel Psychology 48 (3): 485–519.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Judge, Timothy A., Chad A. Higgins, Carl J. Thoresen, and Murray R. Barrick. 1999. The Big Five Personality Traits, General Mental Ability, and Career Success Across the Life Span. Personnel Psychology 52 (3): 621–652.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kohonen, Eeva. 2008. The Impact of International Assignments on Expatriates’ Identity and Career Aspirations: Reflections Upon Re-Entry. Scandinavian Journal of Management 24 (4): 320–329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kraimer, Maria, Mark Bolino, and Brandon Mead. 2016. Themes in Expatriate and Repatriate Research Over Four Decades: What Do We Know and What Do We Still Need to Learn? Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior 3 (1): 83–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kraimer, Maria L., Margaret A. Shaffer, and Mark C. Bolino. 2009. The Influence of Expatriate and Repatriate Experiences on Career Advancement and Repatriate Retention. Human Resource Management 48 (1): 27–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Kraimer, Maria L., Margaret A. Shaffer, David A. Harrison, and Hong Ren. 2012. No Place Like Home? An Identity Strain Perspective on Repatriate Turnover. Academy of Management Journal 55 (2): 399–420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Larsen, Henrik Holt. 2004. Global Career as Dual Dependency Between the Organization and the Individual. Journal of Management Development 23 (9): 860–869.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Lazarova, Mila, and Paula Caligiuri. 2002. Retaining Repatriates: The Role of Organizational Support Practices. Journal of World Business 36 (4): 389–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Lazarova, Mila B., and Jean-Luc Cerdin. 2007. Revisiting Repatriation Concerns: Organizational Support Versus Career and Contextual Influences. Journal of International Business Studies 38 (3): 404–429.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Lazarova, Mila, Jean-Luc Cerdin, and Yuan Liao. 2014. The Internationalism Career Anchor. International Studies of Management and Organization 44 (2): 9–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Leiba O’Sullivan, Sharon. 2002. The Protean Approach to Managing Repatriation Transitions. International Journal of Manpower 23 (7): 597–616.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Lin, Daomi, Jiangyong Lu, Xiaohui Liu, and Xiru Zhang. 2016. International Knowledge Brokerage and Returnees’ Entrepreneurial Decisions. Journal of International Business Studies 47 (3): 295–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Locke, Edwin A., and Gary P. Latham. 2002. Building a Practically Useful Theory of Goal Setting and Task Motivation: A 35-Year Odyssey. American Psychologist 57 (9): 705–717.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. London, Manuel. 1983. Toward a Theory of Career Motivation. Academy of Management Review 8 (4): 620–630.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Mäkelä, Kristiina, Ingmar Björkman, and Mats Ehrnrooth. 2010. How Do MNCs Establish Their Talent Pools? Influences on Individuals’ Likelihood of Being Labeled as Talent. Journal of World Business 45 (2): 134–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Mäkelä, Kristiina, and Vesa Suutari. 2009. Global Careers: A Social Capital Paradox. The International Journal of Human Resource Management 20 (5): 992–1008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Mäkelä, Liisa, and Vesa Suutari. 2011. Coping with Work-Family Conflicts in the Global Career Context. Thunderbird International Business Review 53 (3): 365–375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Mao, Jina, and Yan Shen. 2015. Cultural Identity Change in Expatriates: A Social Network Perspective. Human Relations 68 (10): 1533–1556.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Mayrhofer, Wolfgang, Alexandre Iellatchitch, Michael Meyer, Johannes Steyrer, Michael Schiffinger, and Guido Strunk. 2004. Going Beyond the Individual. Journal of Management Development 23 (9): 870–884.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Mayrhofer, Wolfgang, and B. Sebastian Reiche. 2014. Guest Editorial: Context and Global Mobility: Diverse Global Work Arrangements. Journal of Global Mobility 2 (2).Google Scholar
  56. Mezias, John M., and Terri A. Scandura. 2005. A Needs-Driven Approach to Expatriate Adjustment and Career Development: A Multiple Mentoring Perspective. Journal of International Business Studies 36 (5): 519–538.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Näsholm, Malin. 2014. A Comparison of Intra- and Inter-Organizational Global Careers. Journal of Global Mobility 2 (2): 183–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Ng, Thomas, and Daniel C. Feldman. 2007. Organizational Embeddedness and Occupational Embeddedness Across Career Stages. Journal of Vocational Behavior 70 (2): 336–351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Olds, Dawn, and Liza Howe-Walsh. 2013. Why Repatriates Resign: Interviews with Those Who Left. International Journal of Academic Research in Management 3 (1): 11–30.Google Scholar
  60. Osland, Joyce S. 2000. The Journey Inward: Expatriate Hero Tales and Paradoxes. Human Resource Management 39 (2/3): 227–238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Paik, Yongsun, Barbara Segaud, and Christy Malinowski. 2002. How to Improve Repatriation Management. International Journal of Manpower 23 (7): 635–648.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Pate, Judy, and Hugh Scullion. 2009. The Changing Nature of the Traditional Expatriate Psychological Contract. Employee Relations 32 (1): 56–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Pattie, Marshall Wilson, George Benson, and Wendy Casper. 2013. Goal Congruence: Fitting International Assignment Into Employee Careers. The International Journal of Human Resource Management 24 (13): 2554–2570.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Peiperl, Maury, and Karsten Jonsen. 2007. Global Careers. In Handbook of Career Studies, ed. Hugh Gunz and Maury Peiperl, 350–371. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Ramaswami, Aarti, Nancy M. Carter, and George F. Dreher. 2016. Expatriation and Career Success: A Human Capital Perspective. Human Relations 69 (10): 1959–1987.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Reiche, B. Sebastian. 2006. The Inpatriate Experience in Multinational Corporations: An Exploratory Case Study in Germany. The International Journal of Human Resource Management 17 (9): 1572–1590.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Reiche, B. Sebastian. 2012. Knowledge Benefits of Social Capital Upon Repatriation: A Longitudinal Study of International Assignees. Journal of Management Studies 49 (6): 1052–1077.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Reiche, B. Sebastian, Maria L. Kraimer, and Anne-Wil Harzing. 2011. Why Do International Assignees Stay? An Organizational Embeddedness Perspective. Journal of International Business Studies 42 (4): 521–544.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Ren, Hong, Mark C. Bolino, Margaret A. Shaffer, and Maria L. Kraimer. 2013. The Influence of Job Demands and Resources on Repatriate Career Satisfaction: A Relative Deprivation Perspective. Journal of World Business 48 (1): 149–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Riusala, Kimmo, and Vesa Suutari. 2000. Expatriation and Careers: Perspectives of Expatriates and Spouses. Career Development International 5 (2): 81–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Roberts, Karen, Ellen Ernst Kossek, and Cynthia Ozeki. 1998. Managing the Global Workforce: Challenges and Strategies. The Academy of Management Executive 12 (4): 93–106.Google Scholar
  72. Selmer, Jan, and Jakob Lauring. 2011. Acquired Demographics and Reasons to Relocate Among Self-Initiated Expatriates. The International Journal of Human Resource Management 22 (10): 2055–2070.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Shaffer, Margaret A., Maria L. Kraimer, Yu-Ping Chen, and Mark C. Bolino. 2012. Choices, Challenges, and Career Consequences of Global Work Experiences: A Review and Future Agenda. Journal of Management 38 (4): 1282–1327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Shen, Yan, and Douglas T. Hall. 2009. When Expatriates Explore Other Options: Retaining Talent Through Greater Job Embeddedness and Repatriation Adjustment. Human Resource Management 48 (5): 793–816.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Stahl, Günter K., and Jean-Luc Cerdin. 2004. Global Careers in French and German Multinational Corporations. Journal of Management Development 23 (9): 885–902.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Stahl, Günter K., Chei Hwee Chua, Paula Caligiuri, Jean-Luc Cerdin, and Mami Taniguchi. 2009. Predictors of Turnover Intentions in Learning-Driven and Demand-Driven International Assignments: The Role of Repatriation Concerns, Satisfaction with Company Support, and Perceived Career Advancement Opportunities. Human Resource Management 48 (1): 89–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Stahl, Günter K., Edwin L. Miller, and Rosalie L. Tung. 2002. Toward the Boundaryless Career: A Closer Look at the Expatriate Career Concept and the Perceived Implications of an International Assignment. Journal of World Business 37 (3): 216–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Stroh, Linda K., Hal B. Gregersen, and J. Stewart Black. 1998. Closing the Gap: Expectations Versus Reality Among Repatriates. Journal of World Business 33 (2): 111–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Stroh, Linda K., Hal B. Gregersen, and J. Stewart Black. 2000. Triumphs and Tragedies: Expectations and Commitments Upon Repatriation. The International Journal of Human Resource Management 11 (4): 681–697.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Sullivan, Sherry E., and Michael B. Arthur. 2006. The Evolution of the Boundaryless Career Concept: Examining Physical and Psychological Mobility. Journal of Vocational Behavior 69 (1): 19–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Sussman, Nan M. 2002. Testing the Cultural Identity Model of the Cultural Transition Cycle: Sojourners Return Home. International Journal of Intercultural Relations 26 (4): 391–408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Suutari, Vesa, and Brewster, Chris. 2003. Repatriation: Empirical Evidence From a Longitudinal Study of Careers and Expectations Among Finnish Expatriates. The International Journal of Human Resource Management 14 (7): 1132–1151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Suutari, Vesa, and Chris Brewster. 2001. Making Their Own Way: International Experience Through Self-Initiated Foreign Assignments. Journal of World Business 35 (4): 417–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Suutari, Vesa, and Brewster, Chris. 2003. Repatriation: Empirical Evidence From a Longitudinal Study of Careers and Expectations Among Finnish Expatriates. The International Journal of Human Resource Management 14 (7): 1132–1151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Suutari, Vesa, and Kristiina Mäkelä. 2007. The Career Capital of Managers with Global Careers. Journal of Managerial Psychology 22 (7): 628–648.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Suutari, Vesa, and Milla Taka. 2004. Career Anchors of Managers with Global Careers. Journal of Management Development 23 (9): 833–847.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Suutari, Vesa, Christelle Tornikoski, and Liisa Mäkelä. 2012. Career Decision Making of Global Careerists. The International Journal of Human Resource Management 23 (16): 3455–3478.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Szkudlarek, Betina. 2010. Reentry—A Review of the Literature. International Journal of Intercultural Relations 34 (1): 1–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Tahir, Rizwan, and Naheed Azhar. 2013. The Adjustment Process of Female Repatriate Managers in Australian and New Zealand (ANZ) Companies. Global Business Review 14 (1): 155–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Tharenou, Phyllis. 2003. The Initial Development of Receptivity to Working Abroad: Self-Initiated International Work Opportunities in Young Graduate Employees. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology 76 (4): 489–515.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Tharenou, Phyllis. 2005. International Work in Domestic Jobs: An Individual Explanation. The International Journal of Human Resource Management 16 (4): 475–496.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. Tharenou, Phyllis, and Natasha Caulfield. 2010. Will I Stay or Will I Go? Explaining Repatriation by Self-Initiated Expatriates. Academy of Management Journal 53 (5): 1009–1028.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. Tharenou, Phyllis, and Pi-Shen Seet. 2014. China’s Reverse Brain Drain. International Studies of Management and Organization 44 (2): 55–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  94. Toh, Soo Min, and Angelo S. DeNisi. 2003. Host Country National Reactions to Expatriate Pay Policies: A Model and Implications. Academy of Management Review 28 (4): 606–621.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. Toren, Nina. 1976. Return to Zion: Characteristics and Motivations of Returning Emigrants. Social Forces 54 (3): 546–558.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  96. Tung, Rosalie L. 1998. American Expatriates Abroad: From Neophytes to Cosmopolitans. Journal of World Business 33 (2): 125–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  97. Valk, Reimara, Mandy Van der Velde, Marloes Van Engen, and Rohini Godbole. 2014. International Career Motives, Repatriation and Career Success of Indian Women in Science & Technology. Journal of Global Mobility 2 (2): 203–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  98. Valk, Reimara, Mandy Van der Velde, Marloes Van Engen, and Betina Szkudlarek. 2013. International Assignment and Repatriation Experiences of Indian International Assignees in the Netherlands. International Journal of Organizational Analysis 21 (3): 335–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  99. Valk, Reimara, Mandy Van der Velde, Marloes Van Engen, and Betina Szkudlarek. 2015. Warm Welcome or Rude Awakening? Journal of Indian Business Research 7 (3): 243–270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  100. Vroom, Victor Harold. 1964. Work and Motivation. New York: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  101. Yan, Aimin, Guorong Zhu, and Douglas T. Hall. 2002. International Assignments for Career Building: A Model of Agency Relationships and Psychological Contracts. Academy of Management Review 27 (3): 373–391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  102. Zikic, Jelena, Milorad M. Novicevic, Michael Harvey, and Jacob Breland. 2006. Repatriate Career Exploration: A Path to Career Growth and Success. Career Development International 11 (7): 633–649.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eren Akkan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mila Lazarova
    • 2
  • B. Sebastian Reiche
    • 1
  1. 1.IESE Business School, University of NavarraMadridSpain
  2. 2.Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser UniversityVancouverCanada

Personalised recommendations