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Self-initiated expatriates in the local organizations of developing countries

Rajiv Kumar (Department of Organizational Behavior, Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, Kolkata, India)
Jagdeep Chhokar (Independent Researcher, New Delhi, India)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 8 November 2018

Issue publication date: 5 July 2019




The purpose of this paper is to report three main findings. First, the paper reports why local organizations in developing countries would demand self-initiated expatriates (SIEs); second, the paper reports why SIEs accept employment with such organizations; and third, the paper reports the factors that seem to govern the role allocation to SIEs.


The authors used semi-structured interviews to elicit and collect data. The authors followed the procedures of grounded theory for data analysis.


Local organizations in developing countries seem increasingly willing to employ SIEs. Emergence of hitherto nonexistent businesses, rapid expansion, global ambition and organizational maturity seem to drive the demand for SIEs. Industrial decline elsewhere, attractiveness of emerging economies, challenging role, prior experience within similar countries and non-working spouse are factors that enable the SIEs’ acceptance of employment with such organizations. Required boundary spanning and repatriation status determine the role allocation for SIEs.

Research limitations/implications

The findings may be idiosyncratic as they result from a qualitative research design. External validity could, therefore, be low.

Practical implications

Managers can benefit by comprehending the factors motivating SIEs to work for local organizations in developing countries. SIEs can benefit by understanding why such organizations need them, and the roles they are likely to get therein.


Unlike the typical SIEs studied in literature, the authors theorize about SIEs who move from developed countries to work in developing countries and occupy senior positions. Additionally, unlike a typical SIE study, the authors gathered the perspectives of both SIEs and organizations. Lastly, the paper is about an emerging trend: SIEs’ employment in the local organizations of developing countries.



Kumar, R. and Chhokar, J. (2019), "Self-initiated expatriates in the local organizations of developing countries", Management Decision, Vol. 57 No. 7, pp. 1659-1674.



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