Global self-initiated corporate expatriate careers: A new era in international assignments?

Yochanan Altman, Yehuda Baruch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Within the current discourse on contemporary careers and the context of international assignments, this paper seeks to conduct a study of a large European MNC, with the aim of theory development on expatriation/repatriation. Design/methodology/approach: A qualitative study, based on semi-structured interviews in a major financial institution. Findings: Motivation to expatriate falls into two distinct categories - company initiated assignments; and self-initiated, career orientated and/or self-development focused. The authors propose a two dimensional model to depict the emergence of a new expatriation path alongside the traditional one - differentiating those who respond to an international assignment call within a clearly framed career development path; and those embarking on international assignment as, primarily, a personal growth opportunity. A distinctive sub-group of corporate self-initiated expatriates is identified for the first time. Research limitations/implications: A qualitative study within one company. Practical implications: The emergent models could be utilized by HR managers to shape future policies and practices for global assignments. Originality/value: Providing a new model to explicate the relevance of a protean career attitude in a global boundaryless career environment; outlining of new emergent international career trajectories, in particular corporate self-initiated careers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-255
Number of pages23
JournalPersonnel Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Boundaryless career
  • Career development
  • Careers
  • Corporate self-initiated expatriation
  • Expatriation
  • International assignments
  • Protean career
  • Repatriation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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