Hsin Pei Wu
Department of Business Administration, Asia University

Luo Lu
Department and Graduate School of Business Administration, National Taiwan University

Responding to the emergence of self-initiated expatriates (SIEs) in Taiwan, we review journal articles on self-initiated expatriates since 1997 to shed some light on the global SIEs phenomenon. The issues discussed in this paper include definitions of SIEs, motivations, possible career paths, adjustments to locals, and possible directions for research development. Based on our analysis, research findings indicate that the definitions and conceptual criteria of SIEs are now much more clear and concrete. Specifically, SIEs are driven by self-initiated motivations to relocate overseas temporarily, have skilled/professional qualifications, and obtain regular employment. Refugees, immigrants, and low-skilled workers are not considered SIEs. For SIEs, both intrinsic and extrinsic self-initiated motivations drive them to search for international jobs. The proportion of women SIEs tends to be higher than those among assigned expatriates. SIEs’ work diversity manifests in employment with international corporations or local companies, as well as being self-employed. SIEs may have employment contacts before going aboard, but most of them do not have the support of an organization. Despite an open timeframe for return, many SIEs have only the intention of relocating abroad temporarily. The SIEs who adapt well are those who interact well with the locals. Furthermore, based on self-determination theory, we propose seven propositions that delineate the kinds of motivations ranging from extrinsic to intrinsic that contribute to enhancing SIEs’ expatriate career commitments. We argue that intrinsic motivations are possibly more powerful predictors of initiating and maintaining expatriate status. We endeavor to map out directions for empirical testing in future research which will ultimately contribute to enhancing the well-being of SIEs

Keywords: self-initiated expatriates (SIEs), self-determination theory

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