Reintegration of Expatriates

How to Ease the Re-entry Shock in Accordance with the Expatriate Cycle by Deploying a Relocation Service

Seminar Paper, 2013
28 Pages, Grade: 1,0


Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations

List of Figures

List of Tables

1. Introduction
1.1. Objective
1.2. Proceedings

2. Definitions
2.1. Definition Expatriate
2.2. Definition Reintegration/Repatriation
2.3. Definition Re-entry Shock

3. Repatriation Stressors
3.1. Job-related Factors
3.2. Social Factors

4. The Expatriation Cycle
4.1. Requirements Analysis
4.2. Recruiting
4.3. Selection
4.4. Prearrangemen
4.5. Mentoring
4.6. Repatriation

5. Relocation Service as an Instrument to Handle Repatriation Stressors

6. Summary and Conclusion

Appendix 1


Internet Sources

List of Abbreviations

illustration not visible in this excerpt

List of Figures

Figure 1: Expatriate Cycle

List of Tables

Table 1: Expatriate Cycle – Challenges – Service of Relocation Service

There are no foreign lands.
It is the traveller only who is foreign.

(Robert Louis Stevenson)

1. Introduction

Internationalization is not a phenomenon of recent history. Having a closer look in ancient history Moor & Lewis[1] state that they found 2000 before Christ the beginnings of multinational businesses with the Assyrians. Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans followed and a first peek was reached with the Silk Road. Ancient internationalization rose and declined wavelike in several phases. The emergence of the Hanseatic League coined the internationalization of the Middle Ages and was replaced by the families of merchants like Fugger and Medici. All these eras are characterized by international trade and travelling people.

In the beginning of the following colonial era resources of colonies were exploited to manufacture and trade goods with the aim to strengthen the mother country. But with the decline of the colonial era and the rise of the industrial revolution foreign direct investment became a specific instrument[2] as well as expatriate management.

Today international travel is very common in business. The dimension of international business travel encompasses virtual foreign assignment, business trip, commuter, construction job, secondment, limited relocation and permanent relocation.[3] IHRM is very well prepared to provide adequate trainings for all kinds of business travelers in respect to the cultural differences of the nation of destination.

Although trainings for international assignments are rated as very good and good by 85% of the firms[4] the attrition rate of expatriates/repatriates rose from 8% in 2011[5] to 12% in 2012[6]. Among those, 72% left the company during the assignment or within two years after returning from the assignment.[7] This high attrition rate is not only a huge loss of internal and international knowledge for the company.[8] In addition, to attract a new employee causes high costs, too. Furthermore, competitors engaging with these repatriates profit highly from their knowledge and gain a possible competitive advantage.[9]

This high attrition rate of expatriates/repatriates implies that there is a challenge within the repatriation process. Eventually, it raises the question whether the repatriation processes could be eased for repatriates.

1.1. Objective

The results obtained from Stahl’s[10] research were summarized by Bolten[11] in problem classes and differentiated by length of stay. Rank 1 is occupied by the problem class ‘reintegration’. 65% of 116 participants mentioned reintegration problems. Differen­tiated by the length of stay 76%, who had an assignment from 2 to 6 years (N = 54), mentioned problems with the repatriation.

In respect to this ranking, the goal of this paper is to evaluate at which stages of the repatriation process MNEs can intervene to minimize or maybe to avoid the re-entry shock by deploying a relocation service.

1.2. Proceedings

Since the repatriation process is in focus of this paper, the terms expatriate, reintegra­tion/repatriation and re-entry shock are defined in chapter 2. The repatriation stressors are discussed in more detail in chapter 3. In the following chapter 4 the expatriation cycle is elucidated to put the previous chapters in the big picture. In chapter 5 the instru­ment ‘relocation service’ is discussed and depicted in which phases of the expatriation cycle it can be deployed. Ultimately, a summary and conclusion is drawn in chapter 6.

2. Definitions

Albeit most literature about expatriates, like Steers et al.[12], Fatehi[13] or Rothlauf[14], focus on executives and upper management, all named kinds of international (business) travel (see chapter 1) are not limited to executives and specialists. Skilled workers, construc­tion workers, laborers, international civil servants, military personnel and students take part in expatriate programs, too.[15] Even private persons choose to work and live abroad for a certain period of time.[16] In acculturation research all upper mentioned travelers and even tourists are summarized under the term ‘sojourner’. Since there is this variety of assignments in respect of duration, aim and kind, in the following subchapters the terms expatriate, reintegration/repatriation, and re-entry shock are defined.

2.1. Definition Expatriate

Hill[17] defines an expatriate as “a citizen of one country who is working abroad in one of the firm’s subsidiaries” and does not consider any time factor. Dowling et al.[18], however, take the time factor into account and define an expatriate as “an employee who is working and temporarily residing in a foreign country.” The duration of the assignment is in several respects of importance. On the one hand the assignee has to stay long enough abroad to be required to adapt to local culture,[19] and on the other hand the assignment has to be temporary to ensure that the expatriate becomes a repatriate and undergoes the reintegration process when returning home.

2.2. Definition Reintegration/Repatriation

Common thinking about the reintegration after an assignment abroad was like ‘coming home’ to the home company as well as in private matters.[20] Therefore repatriation has not been in scope of both management and academics until the early 1980s[21]. Albeit most firms provide today a wide variety of trainings to prepare the assignee for the host country, the measures to finish the expatriation process, viz. the repatriation, remain rather modest.[22]


[1] Cp. Moor & Lewis, 1999.

[2] Cp. Kutschker & Schmid, 2011, pp. 12 ff.

[3] Cp. Kühlmann, 2004, p. 4; DGFP e.V., 2012, p. 2; Brookfield Global Relocation Service, 2012, p. 12.

[4] Cp. Brookfield Global Relocation Service, 2012, p. 51.

[5] Cp. Brookfield Global Relocation Service, 2011, p. 56.

[6] Cp. Brookfield Global Relocation Service, 2012, p. 62. Remark: The average annual turnover rate for all employees rose from 8% in 2011 to 13% in 2012. The given information in the surveys from 2011 and 2012 are insufficient to evaluate whether the rise of the expatriate attrition rate is correlated.

[7] Cp. Brookfield Global Relocation Service, 2012, p. 62.

[8] Cp. Szkudlarek, 2010, p. 9; Meifert, 2013, p. 297.

[9] Cp. Bonache, et al., 2001, pp. 6 f.; Kühlmann, 2004, p. 7; Harvey & Novicevic, 2006, p. 332; Caligiuri & Hippler, 2010, p. 357.

[10] Stahl, 1998.

[11] Cp. Bolten, 2010, p. 59. Remark: Bolten knows about the methodologically incorrectness of the summary, but he is of the opinion to win a guidance at least.

[12] Cf. Steers, et al., 2013.

[13] Cf. Fatehi, 2008.

[14] Cf. Rothlauf, 2009.

[15] Cp. Kühlmann, 2004, p. 6; Bochner, 2006, p. 191.

[16] Cp. Nolan, 1999, p. VII; Bochner, 2006, p. 182.

[17] Hill, 2011, p. 604.

[18] Dowling, et al., 2013, p. 3.

[19] Cp. Berry, 2008, p. 543.

[20] Cp. Kühlmann, 2004, p. 26; Fatehi, 2008, p. 602; Jitendra, 2011, p. 7.

[21] Cp. Ladwig & Loose, 2000, p. 356; Sam & Berry, 2006, p. 1; Harvey & Novicevic, 2006, p. 338; Dowling, et al., 2013, p. 189.

[22] Cp. Rothlauf, 2009, p. 320.

Excerpt out of 28 pages


Reintegration of Expatriates
How to Ease the Re-entry Shock in Accordance with the Expatriate Cycle by Deploying a Relocation Service
The FOM University of Applied Sciences, Hamburg
International Humane Resources
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Reentry Shock, Expatriation Cycle, Relocation Service, Expatriate, Repatriate
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Richard Beinrauch (Author), 2013, Reintegration of Expatriates, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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