Self‐initiated expatriation and self‐initiated expatriates

Noeleen Doherty (School of Management, Cranfield University, Cranfield, UK)
Julia Richardson (School for Administrative Studies & School of Human Resource Management, York University, Toronto, Canada)
Kaye Thorn (School of Management, Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Publication date: 15 February 2013



This paper aims to move towards clarification of the self‐initiated expatriate/expatriation construct with the aim of extending and deepening theory development in the field.


Drawing on Suddaby's think piece on construct clarity, this paper applies his proposed four elements; definitional clarity, scope conditions, relationships between constructs and coherence, in order to clarify the SIE construct.


The discussion examines the “problem of definition” and its impact on SIE scholarship. The spatial, temporal and value‐laden constraints that must be considered by SIE scholars are expounded, and the links between SIE research and career theory are developed. From this, potential research agendas are proposed.

Research limitations/implications

This is a conceptual piece which, rather than giving precise research data, encourages further thinking in the field.


Although the definitional difficulties of SIEs have been identified in previous literature, this is the first attempt to clarify the boundaries of SIE and its interconnectedness with other related constructs.



Doherty, N., Richardson, J. and Thorn, K. (2013), "Self‐initiated expatriation and self‐initiated expatriates", Career Development International, Vol. 18 No. 1, pp. 97-112.

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