Coming Home: International Assignments and Repatriation from an International Perspective
This dissertation states that both the psychological contract and cultural adjustment are determinates for the success or failure of an international assignment. To support this hypothesis, I consulted research covering the complete spectrum of international assignments, starting with the selection of potential candidates until completion of repatriation, to ascertain the effect of the psychological contract and cultural adjustment on each of these stages. Special focus was placed on repatriation, in order to explore the influence of this phase on the success of assignments as a whole. Each step is examined in detail and compared to the hypothesis, e.g. selection criteria, preparation, intercultural training, host-culture adjustment, culture shock and repatriation, including reverse culture shock and employee turnover. This research in the area of international assignments, spanning 40 years and five continents, was examined, and the findings were combined in order to provide a complete overview. To achieve this overview, a triangulation of quantitative, qualitative and narrative research was done. I conducted a correlating research study to examine international assignments from the perspective of both intercultural trainers and organizations. These results were then compared with the opinions of experts in the industry to provide an overview between industry and academic findings in the field. All findings were then used to create an Expectation Dependency Model. My review of the overall research on international assignments has shown that much of it has limited or sometimes contradictory data. Although not a central task of this paper, I did identify some of the most important areas in need further, detailed research, especially in the areas of repatriation, adjustment of the spouse and family during and after the assignment, as well as employee turnover after return to the home country.