A preliminary literature review indicated that not much research has been done on self-initiated expatriation (SIE), particularly in a South African context. The purpose of this study is twofold: Firstly, by reviewing previous research, this study aims to make a valuable contribution to the literature on SIE, particularly regarding the motivations behind SIE. Secondly, this study aims to explore and develop a deeper understanding of the push and pull factors experienced by South African self-initiated expatriates (SASIEs).
An empirical, exploratory qualitative approach, through the utilisation of qualitative field research, was employed as a means of inquiry. Furthermore, interpretivism was used as a research paradigm. Purposive sampling was applied, and the sample used consisted of nine individual South African self-initiated expatriates who had been working in their host countries for a minimum of six months. Data were obtained through in-depth semi-structured interviews. By implication only a few research questions were generated to guide the interview; however, participants were not limited to certain responses. This allowed for rich data to be obtained that were systematically analysed using grounded theory analysis to steer the process in a practical manner through the transcription of data and the rigorous extraction of codes towards the results that could best answer the original set of research questions. Criteria for rigour, authenticity, trustworthiness and credibility were applied and demonstrated throughout. The conceptual framework of the study was kept in mind during the research, the themes that emerged were explored, and the findings that were reached were substantiated through an extensive literature review.
The conclusion was reached that South African self-initiated expatriates experienced certain push factors from the home country (South Africa), and that there were equally strong or stronger pull factors to the host country. All these factors contributed to the participants’ decision to expatriate. Interestingly, there seemed to be no real push factors from the host country; these were rather perceived as challenges that had to be endured. Furthermore it seemed that, as far as the sample group in this study were concerned, South Africa did not offer strong pull factors, and that, if the participants were to repatriate to South Africa, it would be for sentimental reasons. This could hold some implications for South African organisations especially in terms of retaining skilled labour or attract the skilled labour who has already expatriated. Recommendations and opportunities regarding future research were also mentioned.
Dissertation (MCom)--University of Pretoria, 2014.