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Looking out or looking up: gender differences in expatriate turnover intentions

Hyun-Jung Lee (Department of Management, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK)
Chei Hwee Chua (University of Miami School of Business Administration, Miami, Florida, USA)
Christof Miska (Department of Global Business and Trade, WU Vienna, Vienna, Austria)
Günter K. Stahl (Institute for International Business, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria)

Cross Cultural & Strategic Management

ISSN: 2059-5794

Article publication date: 2 May 2017




With the steady increase in the number of female expatriates and multinational corporations’ (MNCs’) pressing need for global female talent, understanding the factors that attract and retain female expatriates is urgent. Drawing from the literatures on gender differences in (domestic) labor turnover and gender differences in social networks, the purpose of this paper is to investigate gender differences in expatriates’ turnover intentions.


The authors collected data via a questionnaire survey from an international sample of female (n=164) and male (n=1,509) expatriates who were on a company-sponsored international assignment at the time of completing the survey.


The findings show that female expatriates’ turnover intentions are mainly explained by satisfaction with company support. In contrast, male expatriates’ turnover intentions are explained by repatriation concerns and perceived gap between within- and outside-company career-advancement opportunities, in addition to satisfaction with company support. The authors did not find any gender differences in the levels of turnover intention per se.

Practical implications

Since males dominate the expatriate cadre of most companies, existing expatriate retention strategies are likely to be geared toward males. Companies that value and want to retain their female talent need to gain a better understanding of what matters to female expatriates in their decisions to stay or leave the company, and adjust their expatriation and repatriation management strategies accordingly.


The study is one of the first to empirically test the gender differences in expatriate turnover intentions. The authors propose two underlying mechanisms that explain gender differences in expatriate turnover intentions: social integration and career advancement. The findings point to an important new research frontier that focuses on gender differences in the underlying mechanisms of turnover intentions rather than in the level of turnover intentions.



Lee, H.-J., Chua, C.H., Miska, C. and Stahl, G.K. (2017), "Looking out or looking up: gender differences in expatriate turnover intentions", Cross Cultural & Strategic Management, Vol. 24 No. 2, pp. 288-309.



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