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COVID-19 and self-initiated expatriate health workers: Spanish nurses in Germany

Juan Miguel Rosa González (Department of Business Strategy and Innovation, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia)
Michelle Barker (Department of Business Strategy and Innovation, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia)
Dhara Shah (Department of Business Strategy and Innovation, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia)

Journal of Global Mobility

ISSN: 2049-8799

Article publication date: 9 December 2021

Issue publication date: 6 May 2022

291

Abstract

Purpose

Given that the incidence of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) varies greatly between countries, it becomes relevant to explore self-initiated expatriate (SIE) health workers' perceptions of home vs host country safety during a global pandemic. Thus, the paper aims to study the effects of COVID-19 on the expatriation experience of Spanish SIE nurses in Germany, focussing on perceptions of home and host country safety as push/pull forces on their intentions to repatriate or stay.

Design/methodology/approach

Semi-structured interviews (n = 10) were conducted with Spanish SIE nurses in Germany between April/June 2020 followed by instant messaging interactions with the same participants in October/November 2020. Data analysis was assisted by NVivo software.

Findings

Overloaded by information from social networks about the impact of COVID-19 in Spain compared with the situation in Germany, Spanish SIE nurses had exacerbated feelings of stress, and some reported having experienced guilt for not being in their home country. Nevertheless, the contrasting impact and management of the crisis and its relative effect on health workers and the larger society in Spain and Germany reinforced the nurses' intention to stay in Germany.

Research limitations/implications

The research offers insights to organisations and public authorities involved with providing support to SIEs during crises, highlighting the implications of SIEs' social networks and dual allegiance to home and host countries during a global health emergency.

Originality/value

The study contributes to the growing literature on SIEs, whilst adding to the research on expatriates' well-being and safety during crises.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to sincerely thank the editors and the anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments and suggestions.

Citation

Rosa González, J.M., Barker, M. and Shah, D. (2022), "COVID-19 and self-initiated expatriate health workers: Spanish nurses in Germany", Journal of Global Mobility, Vol. 10 No. 2, pp. 242-264. https://doi.org/10.1108/JGM-03-2021-0028

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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