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Repatriation of European female corporate executives

Linehan, M. and Scullion, H. (2002) Repatriation of European female corporate executives. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 13 (2). pp. 254-267. ISSN 0958-5192

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Abstract

The increased internationalization of business in recent years has made the understanding of international human resource management problems more important for executives in multinational companies. In recent years, researchers have paid considerable attention to the issues of adjustment of managers to international assignments. Interestingly, comparatively little research has been undertaken on the topic of repatriation, i.e. re-entry and readjustment of international managers and their families to their home countries. Despite the growth of women in international management there are very few studies that document the repatriation experiences of female international managers. In particular, very few studies have been conducted outside North America on the topic of repatriation of female corporate executives. This paper reports on the experiences of re-entry to home organizations and home countries by an exclusively senior sample of female international managers in Western Europe. Based on extensive empirical research, the findings establish that the repatriation phase of the international career move may be even more stressful than expatriation. The findings also establish that female international managers experience more difficulties than their male counterparts because of their pioneering roles. Finally, the paper suggests that home-based mentors and access to networks while abroad are important factors in contributing to the successful repatriation of international managers. The research findings make a theoretical contribution, not only to the analysis of gender and international human resource management but, also, to wider debates within the contemporary women in management and career theory literatures.