Self‐initiated expatriation and migration in the management literature

Akram Al Ariss (Toulouse Business School, Université de Toulouse, Toulouse, France)
Marian Crowley‐Henry (Department of Management, National University of Ireland Maynooth, Maynooth, Ireland)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Publication date: 15 February 2013



This paper aims to offer a critical review of how self‐initiated expatriation (SIE) is theorized compared to migration in the management literature and to indicate venues for future research on SIE.


A systematic review has been conducted using the ISI Web of Knowledge database as well as ABI/INFORM in order to include key journals in the management field.


Despite the importance of present theorizations on SIE, the authors show that the literature presents a narrow focus on the most privileged of self‐initiated expatriates and presents some important knowledge gaps. In order to fill these gaps, the authors propose a research map for future research on SIE. This map includes four key dimensions. These are: diversity‐informed research on SIE; context specific and multilevel understanding of SIE; reflexive approaches to SIE; triangulated methods to studying SIE.

Research limitations/implications

By proposing a research map with theoretical and methodological implications, this paper increases our understanding of SIE. It offers a guide for future research on SIEs.

Practical implications

Research on self‐initiated expatriation needs to be more inclusive and critical in terms of studying the diverse human resources in our contemporary societies.


The paper indicates how research on self‐initiated expatriation can become more developed in terms of its theorizations. Furthermore, it proposes a research map for future studies on SIE that is reflexive, relational, diversity‐informed, and methodologically‐triangulated.



Al Ariss, A. and Crowley‐Henry, M. (2013), "Self‐initiated expatriation and migration in the management literature", Career Development International, Vol. 18 No. 1, pp. 78-96.

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