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Aalto University School of Business Master's Theses are now in the Aaltodoc publication archive (Aalto University institutional repository)
School of Business | Department of Management and International Business | International Business | 2012
Thesis number: 13109
Expatriate assignments; The influence of the accompanying family on the perceived outcome of international assignments
Author: Vitasovic, Mila
Title: Expatriate assignments; The influence of the accompanying family on the perceived outcome of international assignments
Year: 2012  Language: eng
Department: Department of Management and International Business
Academic subject: International Business
Index terms: kansainväliset yhtiöt; international companies; työ; work; perhe; families; hyvinvointi; welfare; ulkomailla työskentely; working abroad
Pages: 121
Key terms: expatriate; expatriate family; expatriate assignment; expatriate failure; expatriate success; adjustment; Ekspatriaatti; expatriaatti perhe; ulkomaankomennus; epäonnistunut ulkomaankomennus; onnistunut ulkomaankomennus; sopeutuminen
Abstract This Master´s thesis examines the factors that affect the adjustment of expatriate families and the influence of the accompanying family on the perceived outcome of expatriate assignments. Due to increased competition and the need to rely on the knowledge of its human capital, companies are sending expatriates abroad to complete international assignments. In many cases, the family accompanies the expatriate manager abroad, which entails that the entire family needs to adjust to the new living situation. The accompanying family is often portrayed as negative as the inability of family members to adjust to the new living situation is the most commonly stated reason for assignment failure. Thus, this research aims to study the factors that might make the transition to the new environment smoother and discover how the accompanying family affects the perceived outcome of the assignment. The literature strongly emphasizes the role of the sending company to select, train and support the best expatriates by assessing the possible candidate and his or her family situation. Companies should carefully select the best employee to send abroad and provide cross-cultural training for the entire family prior to departure. The literature draws attention to the accompanying spouse´s challenging role in adjusting to his or her new role as a stay-at-home spouse and suggests companies to assist expatriate spouses in developing a meaningful life abroad. It is suggested that by making sure that the entire family gets adjusted through proper training and support the entire adjustment will be successfully completed. The research method is an interview-based international business research, which focuses on providing a dynamic and holistic view of the topic. The empirical part of this study was conducted through interviewing six different Finnish expatriate families from four different companies. The empirical findings convey that expatriate managers themselves view the company of their families as important during their international assignment. The accompanying family contributes to that there is a balance between work and spare time for the expatriate manager and integrates the expatriate to the new environment. The key finding of this thesis was that the attitudes, expectations and motivations of the entire family strongly affect their ability to adjust to a new environment. Although the literature emphasized the role of the sending company in the success or failure of the assignments, the empirical findings conveyed that expatriate families do not expect the sending company to help them with everything. However, the importance of a supportive expatriate community, proper housing and the external environment was highlighted as key enablers of the families’ successful completion of the assignment. Keywords expatriate, expatriate family, expatriate assignment, expatriate failure, expatriate success, adjustment
Master's theses are stored at Learning Centre in Otaniemi.