The purpose of this paper is to examine the social networks of Portuguese self-initiated expatriates (SIEs), in terms of composition, diversity and roles.
Semi-structured interviews with several Portuguese SIEs from diverse occupations and who were living and working in different locations were conducted, to explore the composition, diversity and roles performed by their social networks.
The findings indicate that: first, surveyed Portuguese SIEs had both home and host social networks: while home networks fade over time, host networks were mainly work driven; second, most SIEs had an “anchor contact” prior to the relocation, which assisted in the decision to go abroad and the initial settlement; and third, surveyed Portuguese SIEs purposefully sough “fellow nationals” from a similar social status and background to get feedback and emotional support, while deliberately ignored Portuguese diaspora.
Following the findings from this exploratory study, several research propositions are outlined highlighting the interactions between SIEs’ social networks at the destination and stereotypes toward their national origin. This study helps understand what shapes the formation of social networks among SIEs.
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