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Psychological contracts of international business travellers

Carol Atkinson (Business School, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK)
Els Pareit (EasyPay, Brussels, Belgium)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Article publication date: 18 September 2019

Issue publication date: 18 September 2019




The purpose of this paper is to explore the nature of psychological contracts of international business travellers (IBTs), a new form of expatriate that has arisen from the growing need for alternative forms of internationally mobile talent. The research is conducted in Belgium, a country recognised as a global hub in which international assignments are essential to economic success.


Research in respect of IBTs is limited and semi-structured interviews are used to explore Belgian employee perspectives.


The contract is more relational in nature than might be expected with an idiosyncratic mix of relational and transactional obligations.

Research limitations/implications

The research is small-scale and qualitative and not widely generalisable. Further it presents only employee perspectives. Nevertheless it generates rich insights into a phenomena about which little is known.

Practical implications

The findings develop understanding of how to manage the valuable strategic resource that is the IBT.


First, the research is of value to the International Human Resource Management field in developing understanding of a newly emerging form of international employee, the IBT. Second, it contributes to psychological contract research in both developing understanding the transactional/relational balance and in generating much-needed rich and nuanced qualitative data.



Atkinson, C. and Pareit, E. (2019), "Psychological contracts of international business travellers", Personnel Review, Vol. 48 No. 7, pp. 1701-1715.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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