Repatriation – why and how to succeed?

Term Paper, 2011

12 Pages, Grade: 1,0



List of Abbreviations

List of Symbols

List of Tables

1 Introduction

2 Insufficient Re-entry and its Effects
2.1 Re-entry in the current practice
2.2 Person-Environment Fit Model
2.3 Impact of insufficient repatriation on MNCs

3 Creating a successful Repatriation
3.1 Measures to facilitate the re-entry
3.1.1 Before assignment
3.1.2 During assignment
3.1.3 After return
3.2 Win-Win Situation

4 Conclusion


List of Abbreviations

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List of Symbols

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List of Tables

Table 1: Discrepancies between repatriate and parent company

1 Introduction

Against the background of global activities, Multinational Companies (MNC's) increasingly send managers and executives abroad, to work on their management skills and promote their knowledge of business across national borders (Halpern, 2005). The results of ECA International research (2008) have shown that 63% of MNC's are planning to extend their international delegations and underline the importance of international assignments.

Within implementation of international assignments, repatriation shows the largest potential for improvement in current practice (Keller, 2001). Human resource managers mainly focus on the pre-departure phase and activities during the assignment. According to a survey conducted by Matthews (2007), only 4% of personal managers report on re-entry strategies, while 21% do not worry about the reintegration process. Although 70% of 100 MNC's state to offer a formal re-entry policy, more than 50% have no evaluation of repatriate overseas-experience (Stahl, Mayrhofer Kuhlmann, 2005).

As result, remarkably 30% of repatriates in German-based MNC's leave their company within the first year after their return (Siebeke, 2009). Hence, despite thorough selection, preparation of candidates and great expense, many MNC's fail to capitalize on their human investments (Halpern, 2005).

This paper concentrates on measures for creation of a successful repatriation. A short discus- sion of re-entry difficulties in the current practice and their theoretical background will be followed by a description of impact on MNCs caused by insufficient repatriation. Further- more, some measures will be introduced to facilitate the repatriation especially by creation of a win-win situation.

2 Insufficient Re-entry and its Effects

2.1 Re-entry in the current practice

From the company's point of view, international assignments can be seen as possible reason for employees' reduction of performance capacity. This effect works as long as the expatriate is exposed to a change in life or has not adapted to a new environment. From the perspective of many human resource managers, this reason expires after employees return to the home country (Pawlik, 2000).

All too often, human resource managers seem to overlook, that from employees perspective homecoming can be experienced, depending on the length of the assignment and degree of integration into the foreign community, as a change to familiar surroundings (Blom & Meier, 2004). Some even experienced homecoming as more emotionally stressful than the deployment itself (Lazarova & Caligiuri, 2004). Private and occupational sphere may differ from the situation before the international assignment (Blom & Meier, 2004) and cause a re- entry shock.

Individual reactions to re-entry depend on job-related factors, such as career anxiety, work adjustment, coping with new role demands as well as loss of status and pay and social factors, such as family adjustment, social networks or the effect on partner's career (Dowling et al., 2008).1 While job-related factors center around post-assignment employment prospects, social factors center around social and psychological distance that may arise as a consequence of international experience (Dowling et al., 2008).

2.2 Person-Environment Fit Model

The Person-Environment Fit Model is taken from stress research for the purpose of illustrating the cause-effect relationship of stress. It explains the development of stress in professional life in terms of discrepancies between individuals and their environment. A discrepancy can occur between the motives of a person and the supplies of its environment (job), or between the demands of the environment and the abilities of a person to meet said demands (Van Harrison, 1978). The subjective assessment of the person-environment relationship is crucial in this regard (Kühlmann & Stahl, 1995).

Transferring this model to the situation of repatriates we find following discrepancies between available and desire factors of both, company and repatriate:

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Table 1: Discrepancies between repatriate and parent company.

A main reason for discrepancies results from unfulfilled expectations in the lack of repatriate knowledge concerning changes within the parent company during his absence. Another rea- son is the change in repatriate personality. Although repatriates often expect a career boost because of a successful international assignment, they often have to face real career chal- lenges. In addition, all too often, repatriates are surprised by the under- or over-challenging situation in business life. This lack of subjective predictability of post-assignment circum- stances leaves no space for preparation in dealing with difficulties and causes great stress af- ter return (Kühlmann & Stahl, 1995).

In response to a stressful re-entry, repatriates try to remove, mitigate or at least to tolerate underlying discrepancies between themselves and the company (Kühlmann & Stahl, 1995). All too often those attempts lead to termination of the employment contract.


1 For further information see Dowling et al., 2008, pp. 188-199.

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Repatriation – why and how to succeed?
University of Hamburg  (Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften)
International Human Resource Management
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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457 KB
International assignment, Repatriation, Re-entry, Re-entry shock, Person-Environment Fit Model, successful re-entry, Insufficient Re-entry, Impact of insufficient repatriation on MNCs, Measures to facilitate the re-entry, Win-Win Situation
Quote paper
Mariya Chernoruk (Author), 2011, Repatriation – why and how to succeed?, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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