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Why do international assignees stay? An organizational embeddedness perspective


  • B Sebastian Reiche

    (Department of Managing People in Organizations, IESE Business School, Barcelona, Spain)

  • Maria L Kraimer

    (Department of Management & Organizations, Tippie College of Business, University of Iowa, Iowa, USA)

  • Anne-Wil Harzing

    (Department of Management and Marketing, University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia)


We apply an organizational embeddedness perspective to examine international assignees’ retention with the organization. Specifically, we hypothesize that assignees’ social ties within and their perceived fit with the host unit positively relate to two sacrifices on leaving the organization: their firm-specific learning during the assignment, and their perceived career prospects in the organization. Perceived career prospects are expected to predict subsequent retention, moderated by firm-specific learning. These hypotheses are tested using a sample of 143 inpatriates in 10 German multinationals, with retention measured 2 and 4 years later. We show that inpatriates’ trusting ties with HQ staff and their fit with the HQ positively relate to their firm-specific learning and their perceived career prospects, and that the latter predicts their retention 2 and 4 years later. Perceived career prospects mediate the direct relationship between inpatriates’ fit with the HQ and inpatriate retention, and the indirect relationship between inpatriates’ trusting ties with HQ staff and their retention. Furthermore, inpatriates’ firm-specific learning mitigates the effect of perceived career prospects on retention decisions 2 years later. We contribute to the organizational embeddedness, careers, and international business literatures by explaining when and how facets of organizational embeddedness relate to assignee retention.

Suggested Citation

  • B Sebastian Reiche & Maria L Kraimer & Anne-Wil Harzing, 2011. "Why do international assignees stay? An organizational embeddedness perspective," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 42(4), pages 521-544, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:jintbs:v:42:y:2011:i:4:p:521-544

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    Cited by:

    1. Fabian Jintae Froese & Kwanghyun Kim & Aileen Eng, 2016. "Language, Cultural Intelligence, and Inpatriate Turnover Intentions: Leveraging Values in Multinational Corporations through Inpatriates," Management International Review, Springer, vol. 56(2), pages 283-301, April.
    2. Tung, Rosalie L., 2016. "New perspectives on human resource management in a global context," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 142-152.
    3. Alicia Rodríguez & María Jesús Nieto, 2016. "Does R&D offshoring lead to SME growth? Different governance modes and the mediating role of innovation," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(8), pages 1734-1753, August.
    4. Caligiuri, Paula & Bonache, Jaime, 2016. "Evolving and enduring challenges in global mobility," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 127-141.
    5. Ren, Hong & Bolino, Mark C. & Shaffer, Margaret A. & Kraimer, Maria L., 2013. "The influence of job demands and resources on repatriate career satisfaction: A relative deprivation perspective," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 149-159.
    6. Welch, Denice & Welch, Catherine, 2015. "How global careers unfold in practice: Evidence from international project work," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(6), pages 1072-1081.
    7. repec:eee:worbus:v:52:y:2017:i:5:p:680-690 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Chen, Yu-Ping & Shaffer, Margaret A., 2017. "The influences of perceived organizational support and motivation on self-initiated expatriates’ organizational and community embeddedness," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 197-208.
    9. Harvey, Michael & Reiche, B. Sebastian & Moeller, Miriam, 2011. "Developing effective global relationships through staffing with inpatriate managers: The role of interpersonal trust," Journal of International Management, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 150-161, June.

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