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Expatriated dual-career partners: hope and disillusionment

Agnieszka Kierner (Department of Management, Vaasan Yliopisto, Vaasa, Finland)

Journal of Global Mobility

ISSN: 2049-8799

Article publication date: 7 August 2018

Issue publication date: 31 October 2018




The purpose of this paper is to employ hope theory to explain the psychological process underlying the dual-career couple (DCC) family unit, during the full cycle of international relocation.


This qualitative study is based on in-depth interviews with 28 international dual-careerists. Hope theory is used to describe the evolution of their goals, pathways and agency thinking before, during, and after expatriation.


The study reveals that dual-career partners initially build goals, pathways, and agency to support family relocation to facilitate the expatriate’s career goals, but later the absence of self-career realization means hope can diminish and the partner’s career comes to drive the goals set for repatriation. Future assignments would be considered only if both partners can arrange relevant employment for themselves.

Practical implications

Companies should develop DCC support practices such as designing shorter assignments, ensuring that partners have work visas and support job seeking. Ideally, multinational corporations would employ the spouse in the DCC.


The study is one of the first to explore the evolution of the goals of DCCs during the entire expatriation process.



Kierner, A. (2018), "Expatriated dual-career partners: hope and disillusionment", Journal of Global Mobility, Vol. 6 No. 3/4, pp. 244-257.



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