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The role of family considerations in an expatriate majority environment

Kevin Schoepp (Zayed University, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)
Ingo Forstenlechner (United Arab Emirates University, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)

Team Performance Management

ISSN: 1352-7592

Article publication date: 24 August 2010



The purpose of this paper is to add to knowledge on the environment of self‐initiated expatriates and the importance of family in determining expatriate retention. It seeks to explore the role of family in an environment vastly different to that of previous research, one where expatriates are outnumbering citizens four to one. Further, the paper aims to explore familial adjustment differences that emerge amongst the different demographic segments within this expatriate majority environment.


The analysis is based on survey data obtained from 364 self‐initiated expatriates. Beyond a thorough demographic analysis providing additional background, data to test hypotheses were analyzed using SPSS and, where suitable, independent samples t‐test or one‐way ANOVA.


Evidence was found of what can be described as an environment easing expatriate adjustment as well as questioning the impact of many of the problems previously identified in literature on expatriates. Findings show an environment where some of the stressors associated with living abroad have been mitigated and family has more or less become a motivation to stay rather than to leave. In addition, the demographic analysis of expatriate faculty adds to knowledge about the globalization of higher education.

Practical implications

Definitions of what constitutes a hardship posting for expatriates may need to be revisited, taking into account national demographic characteristics. Current thinking on the expatriate family should also consider different settings where family may actually be a motivation to remain.


This paper provides a new perspective, as previous literature suggested family to be almost exclusively a reason for expatriate difficulties. Further, little focus has been made on countries where expatriates represent a large share or the majority of the population such as in several of the Arabian Gulf countries.



Schoepp, K. and Forstenlechner, I. (2010), "The role of family considerations in an expatriate majority environment", Team Performance Management, Vol. 16 No. 5/6, pp. 309-323.



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