With increasing foreign revenues, multinational corporations’ need for expatriate assignments shows little sign of slowing down. Maintaining an expatriate is a costly and complicated process, and if the expatriate fails in his/her assignment, the expatriate exercise becomes even more costly for all involved. A prominent issue in international staffing literature is the premature return of an expatriate to his/her home country or resignation during or shortly after the foreign assignment. An expatriate may be defined as an employee who works for a firm but is not a citizen of the country in which the firm is located (host-country). However, he is a citizen of the country in which the organisation is headquartered (parent country). Losses and damages resulting from expatriates returning prematurely or resigning during or shortly after a foreign assignment add up to considerable costs. Considering these costs, it is imperative that expatriate assignments are managed effectively. The above raises the following research questions: <ul> <li>What is the relationship between job attitudes and expatriate managers’ intention to return prematurely from foreign assignments or to resign during or shortly after foreign assignments?</li> <li>What specific aspects of job attitudes are perceived by expatriate managers’ as critical to their adjustment while on a foreign assignment?</li></ul> The main aim of this research is an empirical investigation into the variables influencing expatriates’ job attitudes and a statistical examination of the relationship between job attitudes and expatriates’ intention to quit or return prematurely. The envisioned result is to identify organisational practices that will facilitate expatriate adjustment during a foreign assignment. Successful adjustment will ultimately reduce the number of expatriates returning prematurely and resigning from a foreign assignment, thereby saving multinational corporations considerable expenses. The research was conducted through self-administered questionnaires. A convenience sample with purposive characteristics, comprising of South African managers on foreign assignments, was used. Response was received from 71 managers. The study relied on descriptive and inferential statistical procedures to analyse the quantitative data and analytical induction to analyse the qualitative data. The results of the study showed a negative relationship between certain favourable job attitudes and intention to quit a foreign assignment. Using the Spearman’s rho test the following correlations proved to be significant: role conflict (-.369), job characteristics (-.391) and co-workers (-.349). Job characteristics (-.107), promotional opportunities (.282) and roleconflict (-.312) were identified, usinglogistic regression, as the variables playing a critical role in the expatriates’ decision to quit. The qualitative data analysis added the following critical adjustment aspects: commitment to the vision of the organisation, supportive supervision, organisational support practices, reasonable compensation packages, and realistic expectations. Based on the variables identified as critical, an organisational best practice framework is proposed. This framework can serve as a managerial guideline for South African multinational corporations to facilitate expatriate adjustment.
Thesis (PhD (Organizational Behavior))--University of Pretoria, 2008.