The road to repatriation: implications for HR policy and practice
Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis
This thesis addresses an existing gap in the academic and practitioner knowledge of the repatriation process of international assignees. The study highlights the disparity between intended HR policy and implemented HR practices within the banking sector across Europe, USA and Asia. Repatriates are defined as an employee who has returned home after spending more than six months abroad (Linehan & Scullion, 2002: 650). The major contribution of this research is developing existing theory; previous research has focused upon readjustment and knowledge transfer of repatriates (Black et al, 1991; Bossard & Peterson, 2005; Brewster & Suutari, 2003; Sanchez Vidal et al, 2007). This study contributes to academic knowledge through an enhanced understanding and identification of how the repatriation process works and is perceived by the various stakeholders including repatriates, Human Resource Business Partners, International Human Resources and line managers. The methods utilised generated data via in-depth semi-structured interviews in order to gain insights into how the repatriates perceived the process as well as interviews with HRBPs, IHR function and line managers. The data was then analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). The findings highlight that the objectives for an assignment are not evaluated. Thus currently there is no provision to define success from the organisation‟s point of view. Additionally, the research indicates that there are numerous lost opportunities to gather information about the newly acquired skills and knowledge of the repatriate. The poor repatriation process and implementation of policy clearly impact upon the perception from each of the stakeholders‟ view of whether an assignment has been successful. Consequently the research strives to present a more inclusive look at the effect of the company‟s HR policy and practices and how this impacts upon the repatriation process. The results of the study highlight the opportunity for HR to add transformational practices to facilitate an improved repatriation experience for not only the repatriates but also in identifying the additional stakeholders‟ experience. The contribution to existing knowledge provides additional opportunities for further research to investigate variables beyond the traditional organisation and repatriate perspective highlighting further areas for future research into multiple stakeholders.
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