Being an inside-outsider: Considering organizational expatriations as disjunctive Human Resources Management practices.
VII Conferência Investigação e Intervenção em Recursos Humanos.
This paper considers expatriation organizational practices as specific, contemporary work arrangements, observable in internationalized corporate and organizational environments, a work and human resources management (HRM) setting that brings new questions and challenges to both individuals and organizations. Expatriation, conceived as a specific, contingent, temporary work context that typically involves international, cross-border, physical mobility (Kraimer et al., 2012) can represent new learning opportunities and challenge pre-existent notions of identity and belonging, raising questions regarding existing organizational socialization practices and prevailing tactics (Ashforth & Saks, 1996). Expatriation has been described as a practice that can induce a sense of paradox and ambivalence in individual experiences (Joly, 1990 ; Osland, 2000; Osland & Osland, 2005; Costa & Cunha, 2009). In what concerns social and organizational integration, expatriates can experiment the feeling of being “inside-outsiders” (Borg & Soderlund, 2014), “liminal personae” (Turner, 1969) whose actions and sense of (social and organizational) belonging may become temporarily diffused and uncertain. It is suggested that expatriation management practices compose a specific social context for individual action, one of liminal and disjunctive nature (Jones, 1986; Appadurai, 1990). In the last decade, an emergent number of empirical studies have been describing the way an increasing number of individuals are being liminally integrated, across different sectors and organizational settings, in work situations informed by an element of transience and impermanence (Garsten, 1999; Ashforth, 2001; Beech, 2011; Tempest & Starkey, 2004; Sturdy et al., 2006; Borg & Soderlund, 2014). Traditional HRM practices focus and effectiveness maintained in these contexts have been questioned, and the need to decentralize HRM agency and agents across flexible and temporary organizations has been defended (Ulrich, 1997; Ulrich & Beatty, 2001). Due to the lack of a clear “social template” (Jones, 1986) that helps individuals make sense of their international mobility experiences, HRM practices may appear to be driven, in this context, “more by default than by design” (Ashforth & Saks, 1996; Ashforth et al., 1997). Individualized, disjunctive socialization tactics (Jones, 1986) may be observed and preferred in expatriation contexts – the recurrent use of managerial “exceptions” to established, formal international mobility policies and management criteria, can be considered as an empirical illustration of this “individualized” management approach. Due to this, it`s suggested that expatriation represents a HRM practice that produces unpredicted (and unpredictable) differentiation (of individual experiences and life courses) within an organization, a circumstance that pressures HRM capabilities to maintain a “strong” sense of social integration across the organization (Ashforth, 2001). Using secondary data (Brookfield GRS, 2014, 2015, 2016) and repatriation management case study results as analytical support (Lazarova & Tarique, 2005; Kraimer et al., 2009; Szkudlarek, 2010; Kraimer et al., 2012), the expatriate “re-entry shock” (Joly, 1990 ) is used as empirical reference to illustrate the liminal, disjunctive frame of action that can be composed by contemporary HRM practices such as expatriation.
International Human Resources Management,Expatriation,Identity,Liminarity,Disjunctive socialization,Repatriation