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The impact of international assignments on expatriates' identity and career aspirations: Reflections upon re-entry


  • Kohonen, Eeva


Summary International assignments are challenging for expatriates but have seldom been investigated in the context of identity. The present study aims to capture the identity construction of Finnish expatriate managers during their international assignments, and the impact of this on career aspirations and re-entry experiences. The data were gathered in narrative interviews and reveals that expatriation is often accompanied by self-reflection and identity work. Three types of identity modification emerged from the narrative data, namely 'identity shifters', expatriates with 'balanced identities', and 'non-shifters.' Because the identity shifters had typically unpleasant repatriation experiences and narrated their career aspirations in terms of a new personal challenge, it is suggested that home companies could be more alert to the identity changes and career aspirations of repatriates.

Suggested Citation

  • Kohonen, Eeva, 2008. "The impact of international assignments on expatriates' identity and career aspirations: Reflections upon re-entry," Scandinavian Journal of Management, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 320-329, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:scaman:v:24:y:2008:i:4:p:320-329

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    Cited by:

    1. Fee, Anthony & Gray, Sidney J., 2013. "Transformational learning experiences of international development volunteers in the Asia-Pacific: The case of a multinational NGO," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 196-208.


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