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Boundarylessness as a dynamic construct: the case of Chinese early career expatriates

Christian Yao (School of Management (Albany), Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand)
Kaye Thorn (School of Management (Albany), Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand)
Noeleen Doherty (School of Management, Cranfield University, Cranfield, Bedford, UK)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 7 October 2014




The purpose of this paper is to explore the dynamic nature of boundaryless careers of Chinese early career corporate expatriates. It also investigates the demographic and contextual factors influencing individual perceived career mobility.


Qualitative, semi-structured interviews with 31 Chinese corporate expatriates were conducted and a template analysis approach was used to analyze the data.


Results suggest that Chinese early career corporate expatriates’ perceptions of boundaries as facilitating or limiting career mobility change over time. Changing boundary properties are found to be linked to the salience of Chinese cultural values, demographics and career/life stages. Based on expatriates’ narratives, this study highlights how these demographic and contextual factors shape domains of career boundarylessness.


Using an under-researched sample of Chinese corporate expatriates, this paper contributes to the conceptualization of boundaryless careers identifying the changing nature of the boundaries that facilitate or restrict mobility over time. The study calls for the use of combined, multi-dimensional approaches incorporating individual agency, organizational and cultural factors to understand individual career development.



Yao, C., Thorn, K. and Doherty, N. (2014), "Boundarylessness as a dynamic construct: the case of Chinese early career expatriates", Career Development International, Vol. 19 No. 6, pp. 683-699.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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