Human Resource Management, January–February 2018, Vol. 57, No. 1. Pp. 37–54
© 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Published online in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com).
Correspondence to: Vesa Suutari, Professor, Department of Management, University of Vaasa, P.O. Box 700, 65101
Vaasa, Finland, Ph: +358 29 449 8433, Fax: +358 6 317 5210, firstname.lastname@example.org
THE EFFECT OF INTERNATIONAL
WORK EXPERIENCE ON THE
CAREER SUCCESS OF EXPATRIATES:
A COMPARISON OF ASSIGNED AND
VESA SUUTARI, CHRIS BREWSTER, LIISA MÄKELÄ,
MICHAEL DICKMANN, AND CHRISTELLE TORNIKOSKI
This article is one of the ﬁ rst to examine the long-term effect of expatriation on
careers, comparing the impact of international work experience on the career suc-
cess of assigned and self-initiated expatriates. Our sample consists of employ-
ees who were working abroad in 2004, and we examine their subjective and
objective career success eight years later. Despite the “dark side of international
careers” arguments associated with the repatriation literature, we ﬁ nd that the
long-term impacts of international work experience on career success are gener-
ally positive and mainly unrelated to whether the work experience was acquired
as an assigned or self-initiated expatriate. Companies recruit employees with
international experience externally but are much more likely to offer further inter-
nal jobs to assigned expatriates. This reinforces the need for further research and
for companies to see all those with international experience as important ele-
ments of the workforce. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Keywords: career success, careers, expatriates, international work experience,
nternational career researchers have increas-
ingly been interested in establishing the effects
of international work experience on careers.
The early research, which often focused on
the reintegration of assigned expatriates (AEs)
back into the home organization after repatria-
tion, argued fairly consistently that expatriation
was not a career-enhancing move (Derr & Oddou,
1991; Forster, 1994; Harvey, 1989), albeit with
considerable variation in the results across dif-
ferent studies. Recent studies (Kraimer, Shaffer, &
Bolino, 2009) report similar problems. The issues
returning expatriates experience are created by a
failure of the organization to value their acquired
skills, the loss of status on the return home, and
reverse culture shock (Suutari & Brewster, 2003).
Hamori and Koyuncu (2011) found that interna-
tional work experience slows the ascent of execu-
tives to the top, an effect exacerbated by longer
and repeat assignments.