Expatriation and Repatriation
An expatriate is an employee who has left his native land and is working and temporarily residing in a foreign country. An expatriate can also be a citizen who has relinquished citizenship in their home country to become the citizen of another country. The term originates from the Latin words, ex (out of) and patria (fatherland).
A firm’s employees who are transferred out of their home base into some other area of the firm’s international operations are referred to as expatriates. The practice of global mobility of a company’s workforce helps in building competitive advantages. All expatriate employees are entitled to receive an expatriate premium while working in a foreign country. This includes monetary benefits and non-monetary incentives like housing and education.
When the initiative for expatriation comes from individuals rather than employers, it is called self-initiated expatriation (SIE). An illustration of this is the fact that some Asian Companies have recently hired a number of Western managers.
Dubai is a country where the population is composed predominantly of expatriates from countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Philippines, with only 20% of the population made up of citizens. Most popular expatriate destinations are Spain, followed by Germany and Britain.
Before elaboration on the stages in the repatriation process, it is useful to understand that on completion of the overseas assignment, the MNC brings the expatriate back to the human country, although not all foreign assignments end with a transfer to home- rather the expatriate is re-assigned to another international assignment. Some employees are made to travel around the globe frequency in which case they form part of the MNC’s international cadre of managers. Even with such managers, repatriation is essential, particularly at retirement.
Preparation involves developing plans for the future and gathering information about the new position. The firm may provide a checklist of items to be considered before the return to the home(e.g. closer of bank accounts and settling bills) or a through preparation of the employee and his or her family for the transfer to home.
Physical relocation refers to saying good bye to colleagues and friends, and traveling to the next posting, usually the home country. Personalized relocation reduces the amount of uncertainly stress, and disruptions experienced by the repatriate and family.
Transition means setting into temporary accommodation, where necessary , making arrangement for housing and schooling, and carrying out other administrative tasks such as renewing driving license, and opening bank account.
Readjusting involves coping with reverse culture shock and career demands. Of all the steps in the repatriation process, re-adjusting is the most difficult one. The re-entry adjusting is a tough task because of multiple factors. First there is anxiety experienced when he or she returns home, the apprehensive being accentuated by the uncertainly about the placement in the firm, career prospects and a sense of isolation, feeling of devaluing the international experience, coping with new role demands and probable loss of status and pay.
MNC respond to the repatriation problem in several ways. Many firms have formal repatriation programs. Some companies assign the expatriate to a mentor, popularly called as the godfather. The mentor is usually in a more senior position than the expatriate and knows him or her personally. The purpose behind the use of a mentor is to remove the sense of alienation through the provision of information (e.g. workplace changes) on a regularly basis, so that expatriate is better prepared for the conditions he or she is likely to face upon re-entry. The mentor should also ensure that expatriate is not sidelined when important decisions are made regarding positions and promotions.
Challenging of re-entry: Repatriation poses certain problems more intense than those encountered at expatriation. Infact, assignee views expatriation as sort of reward for impressed performance but repatriation is perceived as the end of a honeymoon on his or her career. Challenging of re-entry relate to the individual assignee as well as the MNC
Individual perspective: Challenges from the assignee perspective include personal and professional. From a personal perspective, the assignee experience reverse culture shock. The returnee expects that the country would remain the same when he or she had left. But after repatriation the assignee finds that things are not the same. Political, economic, social and cultural climate has changed. Moreover, the returnees themselves are not same old individuals. The stay abroad has brought changes in their perception, attitudes, habits and practices. These changes have created high expectations about the home country, but the hopes do not match with reality. They exhibit fussiness about everything and this separates expatriates from home country citizens. It Is not be assignee alone facing the adjusting problem. Even the spouse has the same problem. Children too find re-entry difficult. Coming back to school, attempting to regain acceptance into peer groups and being out-of-touch with current slang, sports, and fashion do cause problems.
Lowered social status, deleted spendable income, housing problem, problem of children’s school difficulty of club membership and the like add to re-entrant’s problems.
Professional disappointments add to the returnee’s woes. The repartee feels that his or her skills acquired while on foreign service are no more in use. The repatriate is of the opinion that job at the home is lacking in organization is unfairly ignoring the global competence acquired by the returnee. Worst, organizations may not guarantee jobs to the returnee. Often, due to poor career planning, repatriates are placed in a holding pattern- being assigned jobs that are available, without regard to the individual’s abilities, capabilities and needs. Many returnees companies that, upon returns they are offered a limited member of career choices and are rarely considered for promotions-which make them feel that they have removed from the main stream of corporate advancement.
Challenges from organization Perspective: As is too well known majority of the returnees consider quitting the organization. Considering the investment made on training, position, maintaining the assignee while on assignment, his or her quitting will adversely effect the MNC ‘s bottom line. Often loss of the multinational becomes gain for a rival. When an experienced assignee quits and joins a rival organization the latter tends to gain competitive advantage. In addition, high withdrawals by returnees may after the company’s ability to hire bright individuals in future.