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Journal articles (2016), Human Relations, 69 (10), pp. 1959-1987

Expatriation and Career Success: A Human Capital Perspective


Very little is known about the linkages between expatriation and objective measures of career success. In this field study we address the expatriation–compensation attainment relationship, after controlling for different kinds of international experience, among 440 graduates of elite MBA programs from around the world. The results suggest that a positive compensation return only accrues to repatriates who have experienced more than one expatriate assignment, perceived acquired knowledge and skills to be utilized during post-repatriation periods, and who are working at higher organizational levels. These findings, along with a supplementary analysis, support an explanation of the results based on human capital theory. That is, expatriation relates to compensation attainment because it is an intense developmental experience, and not merely a selection or signaling mechanism. Furthermore, by incorporating the concepts of value of human capital, richness of human capital, and opportunity to display human capital, we provide a stronger test of when and for whom completing expatriate assignments is positively associated with compensation. The results also suggest that there are currently few readily available substitutes for expatriation.

RAMASWAMI, A., CARTER, N.M. and DREHER, G.F. (2016). Expatriation and Career Success: A Human Capital Perspective. Human Relations, 69(10), pp. 1959-1987.