Kelly Whalen

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Koprivica, Natasha

Degree Name

B.S. (Bachelor of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Management


Between 25 and 40 percent of all expatriates from the United States fail. On average, this costs United States corporations $3.4 billion per year. The purpose of this thesis is to examine reasons why companies as well as employees choose to engage in expatriation, why or why not expatriates adjust to foreign environments, and why expatriates fail. From this examination, recommendations will be made to help to lower the failure rate. The scope of this thesis is it to provide large (more than 200 employees) United States based international organizations with recommendations that will help the expatriate and the organization get the most from the experience. This thesis will not discuss all of the reasons employees choose to engage in expatriation or all the reasons why expatriates do or do not adjust to foreign environments. However, the examination is limited to topics that were researched the most by various authors. All of the research was found in the Northern Illinois University Library. The major findings resulted from journal articles, article reviews, and magazines. My examination revealed that the major reasons expatriates fail is the inability for the family to adjust, lack of training, failure to retain former expatriates, inadequate selection criteria, unrealistic expectations on the part of the expatriate, identity conflicts, and the complexity of the work assignments. In order to lower the failure rate, international organizations should engage in adaptability screening and offer flexible benefit packages. Effective training requires an investment in an intercultural specialist, acculturation by the expatriates, and proper training. In order to retain former expatriates, when the employee returns to the home office, he or she should be put in a position which uses the skills gained abroad. Proper succession planning will also lessen the uncertainty expatriates have when they return. When selecting expatriates, organizations should have a taxonomy that links specific behavioral tendencies to probable levels of overseas productivity. Unrealistic expectations can be overcome by realistic job previews. Home and host office support may help lessen identity conflicts and also help expatriates deal with the complex and challenging tasks dealt within the new location. Because of the large amount of money and time put into expatriation, organizations should follow the specific recommendations explained in this thesis to help lower the failure rate. The recommendations will benefit both the organization and the individual. The factors which go into a decision to send an employee abroad must not be overlooked. Proper training, selection, and support from the home and host offices will give the biggest return on investment for the organization and the expatriate.


21 pages




Northern Illinois University

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