Limitations of using Expatriates, Role of Family

02/12/2021 1 By indiafreenotes

Expatriate has to look for the local market to build up the relation and increase the business for the company, but neither he does not have command over the local language nor he has much experience to manage and work with the local staff.

 The training and rewarding of an expatriate are highly costly. The extraordinary awards for an expatriate can lead to ill feeling in the local employees and can work as a de-motivational factor for them.

Expatriate Failure

Expatriate failure means premature return of an expatriate, i.e. an expatriate returns back to his home country before the completion of international assignment or if an expatriate resign from his job position before the completion of the assignment assigned to him. However, it can also be defined as the poor job performance or the prolong extension of the assignment.

Reasons of Expatriate Failure

There are several reasons associated with the failure of an expatriate. Various researchers have given different reason for an expat failure. There were number of surveys conducted across the globe and found the different failure rates in different countries. It is found that US with 10% – 40% has the maximum failure rate and Japanese MNEs with less than 5% has the minimum failure rate.

High Burnout Rate

Studies have shown that expats, especially those performing extremely demanding jobs, have a high burnout rate. It seems that 25% of them are called home early because they take on too much stress. This problem is the result of several factors including language barriers, being away from friends and family, having to deal with an entirely new culture, and the feeling of isolation.

Expats are Expensive & Problematic

The expats themselves aren’t problematic, but making sure that all travel expenses, visa issues, host or home-country tax differentials and relocation allowances are covered will be. You should expect to pay two to five times more on an expat than you would on a local employee. In any case, you have to decide if this significantly higher cost is worth it.

Legal Risks

Some companies ended up being fined or barred from operating in a certain country because they didn’t respect its immigration requirements and permit obligations. For the expat the situation can become even more sever. For example, continuing work in a country passed your permit’s expiration date may lead to imprisonment. A Global Mobility Effectiveness Study concluded that roughly 64% of international businesses suffered avoidable non-compliance penalties when sending expats.

Role of family

In the context of international work experience, acculturation is a dual process of cultural and psychological change that takes place as a result of contact between two or more cultural groups and their individual members and which involves various forms of mutual accommodation (Berry, 2005). The outcome of acculturation is a longer-term psychological and sociocultural adjustment, in other words, relatively stable changes that take place in an individual or a group in response to external demands. The acculturation literature identifies different types of global workers, such as sojourners, immigrants, refugees, expatriates, etc. To clarify the distinction between different types of cultural groups, Berry proposed the following criteria:

(a) Migration

(b) Voluntariness

(c) Foreseen permanence.

For expatriates, the profile includes migration, voluntariness, and no foreseen permanence. Moreover, expatriates further differentiate themselves on average by a high educational level, and if not self-initiated, by support from their organization.

Expatriates were further defined as individuals who move to another country, change a place of residence and have a specific goal to work in the new environment; or as assignees across a range of assignment types involving international relocation (e.g., long-term, short-term, and extended business travel assignments). In the work-family literature, family is any combination of two life partners, with or without children; or as two committed partners, where a partner refers to both spouses and significant others and it refers to a traditional expatriate situation where one partner works and one is unemployed. McNulty provided the following comprehensive definition of an expatriate family: “married, de-facto, live-in, or long-term partners of the opposite or same sex, with or without children, with family members that reside in one or many locations; and legally separated or divorced (single) adults with children, with family members that reside in one or many locations.” This definition includes non-traditional types of expatriates which is a new field of enquiry evolving in recent research. It differs from traditional expatriates regarding their family composition (step, single parent, split, overseas adoption, multigenerational), family challenges (special needs or gifted children), family status (single expatriates, accompanying family members besides children), sexual orientation, and gender.


The family must establish a new “Norm”

The family identity relies on recreating a “home” dynamic almost as soon as theyarrive in the new country. While each family member mourns what they have left behind in the previous country (friends, a home, a routine, etc.), there is also an overall loss of family identity.

Differences in roles can create frustrations and misunderstandings

Each family member is focused on their own adaptation and may overlook the efforts other members put in making things work, thus making the first days and weeks even more difficult.

Global Mobility can deploy numerous expatriate success factors such as putting the assignee in contact with other assignees and families in the country, or by speaking to other family members, not just their employee.

Some family members may find it easier to adapt to life in the new country

Moving abroad is a stressful ordeal. Some family members may adapt more quickly as they have a specific role lined up e.g. a student at a new school. Other family members must strive to find their own meaningful position in the new set up, and this requires a lot of energy.

Tips to ease the relocation process

Some good practices to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere for the assignee and their family could include:

Have a specifically appointed person who the family can turn to

Someone who they can call upon to help them understand how to pay a bill, when to drive on specific roads, and possibly most importantly, someone who can help decode the cultural behaviors that can be so disconcerting at the start of an assignment.

Often a family member of an assignee already based in the country will be very happy to take on that role.

Focus on the arrival of the whole family and not just the assignee

This might mean regularly enquiring about the family’s well-being and whether there is anything that can be done to make the transition smoother. For example, it is often the assignee’s partner who has more of a need for language training than the assignee.

Organize events that involve the whole family

Encourage the family to spend more quality time together. Particularly where the time differences are big, work commitments are more likely to overlap into family time. Encourage the family to travel within the region, take up new past times or hobbies.

Encourage the assignee to take some time off at the start of the assignment

One of the many expatriate success factors that many firms believe in is to minimize work assignee and family overload and associated stress.

Offer support but don’t overstep the mark

Check in regularly with the assignee and their family without pushing them too much.