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Identity work in the backstage: exploring the role of expatriate bubbles in identity work of self-initiated expatriate engineers through a Goffmanian lens

Identity work in the backstage: exploring the role of expatriate bubbles in identity work of... While there is vast research on expatriate adjustment, it is still known very little on how self-initiated expatriates (SIEs) in particular might cope with identity conflicts and how they engage with identity work. What is more, although there is some literature on the existence of expatriate bubbles, this does not cover how these bubbles might impact identity work. The purpose of this paper is to explore identity work that is taking place within expatriate bubbles and thus advance our knowledge on both expatriate bubbles and expatriate adjustment.Design/methodology/approachThe study reports on the analysis of in-depth, semi-structured interview data collected from 37 self-initiated expatriate engineers from Greece, Spain and Italy, currently residing in Bristol, UK.FindingsPrevious studies have argued that expatriate bubbles impede adjustment. The study analysis, however, shows that expatriate bubbles can be not only a powerful mechanism for coping with foreignness and strengthening their sense of belonging but also act as identity workspaces where SIEs engaged with identity work and navigated identity conflicts.Originality/valueThe present study addresses two empirical gaps: the paucity of literature on the identity work that self-initiated expatriates engage with and the paucity studies on self-initiated expatriate engineers. The study also has a theoretical contribution as, drawing upon a Goffmanian dramaturgical framework sheds light on the back regions of performance taking place within expatriate bubbles. Thus, showing how SIEs relax but also rehearse their performances in order to reduce any identity gaps triggered by the new organisational and national context. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Global Mobility The Home of Expatriate Management Research Emerald Publishing

Identity work in the backstage: exploring the role of expatriate bubbles in identity work of self-initiated expatriate engineers through a Goffmanian lens

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References (62)

Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
2049-8799
DOI
10.1108/jgm-06-2022-0031
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

While there is vast research on expatriate adjustment, it is still known very little on how self-initiated expatriates (SIEs) in particular might cope with identity conflicts and how they engage with identity work. What is more, although there is some literature on the existence of expatriate bubbles, this does not cover how these bubbles might impact identity work. The purpose of this paper is to explore identity work that is taking place within expatriate bubbles and thus advance our knowledge on both expatriate bubbles and expatriate adjustment.Design/methodology/approachThe study reports on the analysis of in-depth, semi-structured interview data collected from 37 self-initiated expatriate engineers from Greece, Spain and Italy, currently residing in Bristol, UK.FindingsPrevious studies have argued that expatriate bubbles impede adjustment. The study analysis, however, shows that expatriate bubbles can be not only a powerful mechanism for coping with foreignness and strengthening their sense of belonging but also act as identity workspaces where SIEs engaged with identity work and navigated identity conflicts.Originality/valueThe present study addresses two empirical gaps: the paucity of literature on the identity work that self-initiated expatriates engage with and the paucity studies on self-initiated expatriate engineers. The study also has a theoretical contribution as, drawing upon a Goffmanian dramaturgical framework sheds light on the back regions of performance taking place within expatriate bubbles. Thus, showing how SIEs relax but also rehearse their performances in order to reduce any identity gaps triggered by the new organisational and national context.

Journal

Journal of Global Mobility The Home of Expatriate Management ResearchEmerald Publishing

Published: Mar 14, 2023

Keywords: Self-initiated expatriates; Expatriate bubbles; Identity work; Engineers

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