Stressors of highly-skilled self-initiated expatriates and their spouses

Directeur /trice Directeur: Eric Davoine (Université de Fribourg) Co-Directrice: Nicky Le Feuvre (Université de Lausanne)
Co-directeur(s) /trice(s)
Résumé de la thèse

The PhD study aims to reflect the experiences of the under-researched subgroup of self-initiated highly-skilled expatriates and their partners in the academic field and the private sector who relocate to Switzerland for a certain time. They distinct themselves from short-term travelers, so called sojourners or immigrants, even though the borders are sometimes unclear, as for example self-initiated expatriates who receive citizenship (Richardson & Zikic, 2007). The experience of self-initiated especially expatriate academics itself has been explored by Richardson in interviews with 30 British expatriate academics in New Zealand, Singapore, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. Richardson studied the motivation to expatriate (Richardson & McKenna, 2002), the role of individual agency and the perceived value of international experience (Richardson & Mallon, 2005), the role of the family in the decision to expatriate (Richardson & McKenna, 2006) and negative sides of an international career (Richardson et al., 2007). Selmer and Lauring extended those findings with a quantitative study questioning 428 academic expatriates from 60 countries at 35 universities in the Nordic countries and the Netherlands to determine if inherent demographics influence reasons to expatriate (Selmer & Lauring, 2010), or if acquired demographics play a role in the decision to expatriate (Selmer & Lauring, 2011a), the effect of different job factors (Selmer & Lauring, 2011b) or marital status (Selmer & Lauring, 2011c) on work outcomes and the effect of cognitive and affective reasons to expatriate on work adjustment (Selmer & Lauring, 2013). Froese interviewed self-initiated expatriates in South Korea to determine the motivation and cross-cultural adjustment of self-initiated academics in a specific country (Froese, 2012; Froese & Peltokorpi, 2013). In all of the mentioned studies, the expatriates’ itselves were the subject and interviewed or questioned without their partner and difficulties of spouses were casually mentioned. Little is known about the experience of self-initiated expatriates’ spouses itself. Especially interesting is how dual career couples (where both partners are equally committed to their career) manage a self-initiated expatriation. Studies about dual-career couples sent on an assignment (Kilgore & Shorrock, 1991; Harvey & Buckley, 1998; Harvey, Ronald Buckley, Novicevic, & Wiese, 1999; Brown, 2008; Harvey, Napier, Moeller, & Williams, 2010; Mäkelä, Känsälä, & Suutari, 2011) show that the disruption to the career path of the accompanying spouse is one of the major issues for dual-career couples (Harvey, 1998) and highlight a problematic shift from professionals to homemakers, a loss of identity and marginalization; An issue which becomes more prevalent with the increase of male accompanying spouses and international career paths (Andreason, 2008).

Specifically certain research questions are intended to be clarified: How do couples especially dual-career couples manage a self-initiated expatriation? What problems/stressors do accompanying spouses/families encounter? How does the possible unpredictability and instability of the spouses’ career influence other life domains of accompanying spouses and the expatriate family? How does the couple/family estimate their psychological well-being and adjustment? Are there differences between spouses who do expect to find employment and spouses who don’t and between female and male spouses? How do the organization and the reconciliation of work and family life change during a self-initiated expatriation? Did the couple receive some support of the organization (university, company) which employed the expatriate or of other associations (like expatriate associations, community organizations etc.)?


Statut à la fin
Délai administratif de soutenance de thèse 2018-2019