Abroad One More Time: Understanding Re-Expatriation Intentions among Overseas Returnees – An Emerging Economy Perspective

Author: Thi Thuy Nga Ho

Ho, Thi Thuy Nga, 2015 Abroad One More Time: Understanding Re-Expatriation Intentions among Overseas Returnees – An Emerging Economy Perspective, Flinders University, Flinders Business School

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This study investigates the reasons why returnees in an emerging economy, Vietnam, who have studied and/or worked abroad, and who have returned to their home country, intend to re-expatriate on their own initiative. This study integrates two key theoretical underpinnings, pull-push theory and the theory of planned behaviour, to explain their re-expatriation intentions. Other theories (e.g. expectancy theory, boundaryless careers theory, home country embeddedness, reverse culture shock and cross-cultural readjustment) are also used to explain particular pull-push forces or returnees’ re-entry experiences. Using path analysis on a sample of 433 Vietnamese returnees, the study finds that pull forces from the host country and pull-push forces from the home country impact on the intentions to re-expatriate. There are three pull-push factors associated with home and host countries that have a significant impact on returnees’ intention to re-expatriate: (1) dissatisfaction with career and life in their home country, (2) career and community embeddedness, and (3) expected career and non-career outcomes from re-expatriation. In terms of re-entry experiences, reverse culture shock has the strongest impact on intentions to re-expatriate while other re-entry factors have no significant effects (e.g. work readjustment and interaction readjustment) or weak effects (e.g. general readjustment). For the theory of planned behaviour, attitude toward re-expatriation and subjective norm affect returnees’ intention to re-expatriate. Further, these factors either fully or partially mediate the role of pull-push factors on intentions to re-expatriate. The path analysis undertaken in this study suggests a more complex relationship at play and this reinforces the need for further research in this area. This study adds to the limited number of empirical studies on brain circulation and self-initiated re-expatriation of returnees in emerging economies. In particular, it plays a modest but important role in filling the research gap of better understanding the social, emotional and psychological challenges that drive the behaviour of returnees in emerging economies when they return to their home countries. The results of this study will be helpful for organizations and governments, especially in emerging economies, to develop policies to alleviate skill shortages, recruit and retain highly skilled returnees.

Keywords: self-initiated expatriates, re-expatriation, returnees, emerging economies, brain circulation, re-entry experiences

Subject: Business thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2015
School: Flinders Business School
Supervisor: Pi-Shen Seet