Meuer, Johannes, Christian Tröster, Michèle Angstmann, Uschi Backes-Gellner and Kerstin Pull

Embeddedness and the repatriation intention of assigned and self-initiated expatriates

European Management Journal, (In press).

Copy reference link   DOI: 10.1016/j.emj.2019.03.002

Abstract: Expatriation research has been intrigued by the question of how to prevent the unplanned return of expatriates to their home country. Although a majority of studies have focused on assigned expatriates (AEs), only recently have researchers expanded the scope of analysis by focusing on self-initiated expatriates (SIEs). For SIEs, research has identified job embeddedness as a key explanatory concept for early repatriation without yet acknowledging its potential to also explain the early expatriation of AEs. However, because AEs and SIEs differ in important motivational and behavioral aspects, the lack of comparative studies prohibits a deeper understanding of the mechanisms through which job embeddedness influences early repatriation. We build on belongingness theory to conceptualize early repatriation as a compensatory reaction of expatriates to an inhibited need to belong. Using a unique sample of 345 expatriates from 40 countries, we show that off-the-job embeddedness is more important for explaining the repatriation intention of AEs than of SIEs, whereas on-the-job embeddedness is more important for explaining the repatriation of SIEs compared to AEs. Our integrative model carries important theoretical implications for expatriation research and provides managerial implications for recruiting and retaining AEs and SIEs.

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