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The decision-making processes of self-initiated expatriates: a consumer behaviour approach

Gabriela Glassock (UTS Business School, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia)
Anthony Fee (UTS Business School, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia)

Journal of Global Mobility

ISSN: 2049-8799

Article publication date: 9 March 2015




The purpose of this paper is to explore the features of the decision-making processes used by self-initiated expatriates (SIEs) when considering an international assignment. It does this by examining expatriates’ decision processes through the lens of prominent theories of consumer decision making.


An abductive, exploratory research design was employed, based on in-depth qualitative case studies of nine SIEs.


In general, the expatriates in the study tended to deploy high-involvement decision-making processes. Rational decision models drawing on multiple high-quality information sources were common, especially for expatriates with career-oriented motivations and no prior experience in the target country. Three types of expatriates are distilled: “career building” (high involvement, career oriented, compensatory decision model), “risk minimizing” (high/medium involvement, non-compensatory decision model), and “emotionally driven” (low involvement, affective decision model).


While research into expatriates’ motivations is plentiful, this is the first study to examine the decision-making processes that define the way in which these motivations are enacted. Its originality stems from combining two previously unrelated strands of research (consumer decision making and expatriation). The resulting tentative typology of decision-making approaches provides a platform for organisations seeking to better target talent recruitment, and for researchers seeking to further examine the decision processes of SIEs.



Glassock, G. and Fee, A. (2015), "The decision-making processes of self-initiated expatriates: a consumer behaviour approach", Journal of Global Mobility, Vol. 3 No. 1, pp. 4-24.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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