The purpose of this paper is to examine how repatriates’ emotional support network affects their experience of re-entry.
This inductive, qualitative study is based on 27 semi-structured, in-depth interviews with Belgian organizational repatriates.
The analyses suggest that expatriation empathy is a key attribute of organizational repatriates’ main emotional support providers. In addition, the results show that although partners are a main source of emotional support on re-entry, they are also important potential causes of distress. Lastly, the results suggest that the cultural diversity of a repatriate’s emotional support network is linked with characteristics of the assignment and that it affects the experience of repatriation.
The results provide empirical evidence that the expatriation empathy of repatriates’ support providers is a more informative characteristic to consider compared with whether they have personal experience of expatriation. In addition, the results suggest that research should also take into account the negative side of social support, and, for example, consider the influence of crossover distress of partners who experience relocation difficulties themselves.
This study points to the possible benefits of organizing social activities or training for repatriates and their partner and any children, as well as the advantages of encouraging expatriates to invite home-country friends to visit.
Although most scholars agree on the importance of support for expatriates’ well-being, the sources of relevant emotional support have received little research attention so far, as has how this influences the repatriation experience.
Van Gorp, L., Boroş, S., Bracke, P. and Stevens, P.A.J. (2017), "An exploratory study into organizational repatriates’ emotional support network", Cross Cultural & Strategic Management, Vol. 24 No. 4, pp. 645-668. https://doi.org/10.1108/CCSM-12-2016-0211Download as .RIS
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