An ethnographic study of spouse involvement in expatriate careers
Previous research on the influence of accompanying expatriate spouses has emphasized the negative impact on the business expatriates that could contribute to unsuccessful outcomes of the foreign assignments. But spouses' influences could also be positive. Applying ethnographic field-work methodology, this study investigated female spouses' involvement in the career of a sample of Danish business expatriates living in the same compound in Saudi Arabia. Results showed that the accompanying partners were active in trying to support and further their expatriate husbands' immediate careers and repatriation opportunities by using social strategies, such as creating alliances and establishing social networks with influential others through social contacts and dinner parties. The female trailing partners also tried as a group to influence company decisions regarding working schedules, pay, and holidays. These findings are consistent with recent theoretical developments focusing on positive outcomes of the work-family interface and social capital theory and are in line with empirical research on repatriation and post-assignment careers.
International Business Review, 2010, Vol 19, Issue 1, p. 59-69