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Specific work-life issues of single and childless female expatriates: an exploratory study in the Swiss context

Xavier Salamin (Chair of Human Resources and Organization, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland) (Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research LIVES, Fribourg, Switzerland)

Journal of Global Mobility

ISSN: 2049-8799

Article publication date: 4 May 2021

Issue publication date: 10 May 2021

181

Abstract

Purpose

Research on work–life interface in the expatriation context has to date focused on expatriates relocating with a family, and the work–life experiences of single and childless expatriates remain largely unexplored. This is particularly relevant for women, as female expatriates appear to be more often single than their male counterparts and have children less often. The aim of this paper is, therefore, to examine the specific work–life experiences of single and childless female expatriates who are working and living in the French-speaking part of Switzerland.

Design/methodology/approach

A qualitative research design has been adopted for this exploratory study. Data was collected through semi-structured face-to-face interviews with 20 single and childless female expatriates living and working in the French-speaking part of Switzerland.

Findings

Our findings identify a set of personal, work-related, and social and cultural factors contributing to single and childless female expatriates’ conflict and enrichment between work and nonwork spheres, as well as a range of sources and types of social support they rely upon. Our findings demonstrate that work–life issues are also exacerbated for single and childless women in the international context.

Originality/value

This study is the first dedicated to the examination of specific work–life issues of single and childless women in the expatriate context. By revealing the specificities of their work–life experiences, this study contributes to the fields of (female) expatriate research and work–life research and advances current knowledge on nontraditional expatriates.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This publication benefited from the support of the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research LIVES – Overcoming vulnerability: life course perspectives, which is financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation. The author is grateful to the Swiss National Science Foundation for its financial assistance, and to IP6 colleagues, in particular, Professor Nicky Le Feuvre (University of Lausanne) and Professor Eric Davoine (University of Fribourg), for their valuable comments on previous versions of this paper. An earlier version of this article has been published as a working paper in LIVES Working Papers.

Citation

Salamin, X. (2021), "Specific work-life issues of single and childless female expatriates: an exploratory study in the Swiss context", Journal of Global Mobility, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 166-190. https://doi.org/10.1108/JGM-07-2020-0052

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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