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The global mobility decisions of professional sailors’ spouses

Joanne Mutter (School of Management, Massey University College of Business, Albany, New Zealand)

Journal of Global Mobility

ISSN: 2049-8799

Article publication date: 12 June 2017




The purpose of this paper is to identify the factors informing spousal global mobility decisions within the context of sporting expatriation. Findings contribute to the non-corporate global mobility literature as well as providing an empirical enhancement to the family relatedness of work decisions framework.


In this qualitative study, in-depth interviews gave voice to 21 spouses of professional sailors who have experienced both trailing their spouse and staying behind.


Access to empathetic social support, the potential impact on children, and the spouse’s career were all found to influence the spouse’s dynamic global mobility decision making.

Research limitations/implications

The study is limited by the cross-sectional nature of the research. Future longitudinal research into the impact of spousal preferences would identify the on-going effect of their decision(s) to relocate or to stay behind.

Practical implications

Providing organisations with an understanding of the familial issues their global talent may factor into their work mobility decisions will allow them to implement appropriate family-focussed support, irrespective of the choice to engage, or not engage, in global mobility.


By grounding the study in the under-researched sporting arena, the author contributes to the emerging non-corporate expatriate conversation. Furthermore, the family relatedness of work-related decisions framework was found to provide a useful conceptual foundation for understanding decision making in an international context.



Mutter, J. (2017), "The global mobility decisions of professional sailors’ spouses", Journal of Global Mobility, Vol. 5 No. 2, pp. 203-219.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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