Using narratives to understand the motivational factors and experience of being a self-initiated academic expatriate in South Africa

Harry, Tinashe T. ; Dodd, Nicole M. ; Chinyamurindi, Willie T. (2017)

CITATION: Harry, T. T., Dodd, N. M. & Chinyamurindi, W. T. 2017. Using narratives to understand the motivational factors and experience of being a self-initiated academic expatriate in South Africa. SA Journal of Human Resource Management / SA Tydskrif van Menslikehulpbronbestuur, 15:1-9, doi:10.4102/sajhrm.v15i0.797.

The original publication is available at http://www.sajhrm.co.za

Article

Orientation: A growing movement of foreign nationals is settling in South Africa. Given this, there is a need to understand not only those factors influencing foreign nationals to settle in South Africa but also their lived experiences as a basis for individual career development. Research purpose: To investigate the expatriation motivational factors and experiences of selfinitiated academic expatriates in South Africa. Motivation for the study: Calls have been made within the careers literature for more empirical focus on understanding career development using some of the neglected sample groups. Research approach, design and method: The interpretive paradigm was adopted to understand the main purpose of the study. Guided by study objectives, unstructured interviews were conducted using a sample of foreign academics working in South Africa (n = 25). Main findings: Individual stories and narratives highlighted that academics relocated for the following reasons: (1) individual preference, (2) economic meltdown and (3) political conditions. Furthermore, the lived experiences of the expatriates reflected discrimination within the workplace and the community of residences in South Africa. Practical and managerial implications: Research findings indicate that the human resources (HR) function can come up with interventions that positively influence the lived experience and career development of foreign academics working in South Africa. Contribution: The expatriate experience framed in this study provides a picture of the career development processes of neglected sample groups in the extant literature. Such an understanding is key in advancing literature and proposing interventions. All this is important given the global trend on labour and skills movement added to the role South Africa plays in the international arena.

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