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Lament of the ignored expatriate: An examination of organisational and social network support for female expatriates in China

Kate Hutchings (Department of Management, Monash University, Clayton, Australia)
Erica French (School of Management, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia)
Tim Hatcher (Research and Development, BDO Kendalls, Brisbane, Australia)

Equal Opportunities International

ISSN: 0261-0159

Article publication date: 2 May 2008




The purpose of this paper is to investigate the relationship between gender and the individual and social aspects of expatriate work, emphasising how issues external to the organisation impact on the experience of female expatriates.


In total, 102 male respondents and 44 female respondents were surveyed in order to test the perceived organisational support, career satisfaction, and expatriate social support.


Significant gender‐related differences were identified in all three areas with notable contradiction in the perception and practice of how multinational corporations (MNCs) manage their expatriates. While earlier research suggested that organisations perceived their treatment of female expatriates to be equivalent to that of men, the results indicate that female international managers do not perceive equal treatment on international assignments.

Research limitations/implications

Although based on a smaller sample than other international studies, the gender breakdown was sufficient for moderated regression testing.

Practical implications

As the expatriate social support construct is largely exploratory in nature, future research could examine the effect of perceived expatriate social support on other related workplace behaviours, both domestically and internationally, including work‐life balance and diversity management.


While other studies have provided a rich descriptive picture of the gendered nature of expatriation, little research has attempted to quantify the reasons behind the phenomenon. This paper addresses this gap in the literature through exploration of the issues, which impact upon the experience of female expatriates in foreign MNCs in China.



Hutchings, K., French, E. and Hatcher, T. (2008), "Lament of the ignored expatriate: An examination of organisational and social network support for female expatriates in China", Equal Opportunities International, Vol. 27 No. 4, pp. 372-391.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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