Using Narratives to Understand the Experience of Career Success amongst Self-initiated Expatriates in South Africa

  • Tinashe Harry
  • Nicole Dodd
  • Willie Tafadzwa Chinyamurindi
Keywords: career success, self-initiated expatriates, academic expatriates, narratives, global careers


Calls have been made within the careers literature for studies focusing on the career experiences of sample groups often neglected in theorising. One could regard self-initiated expatriates (SIEs) as one of these sample groups, especially within the context of a developing country. An interpretivist paradigm, relying on interviews, was adopted for this study using a sample of 25 expatriates working at a South African university. Based on data generated, career success was framed through: 1) quest for career progression; 2) material possessions; and 3) research publication output. Participants deemed factors within the organisation as key to this framing of career success, particularly: 1) the value placed on social networks; 2) the quest for fair remuneration; and finally 3) the availability of opportunities within the organisation. In their endeavours to retain and attract foreign academics, human resources (HR) practitioners can use the findings of this study to inform strategies that assist in developing their staff.

Keywords: career success; self-initiated expatriates; academic expatriates; narratives; global careers


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1998-8125
print ISSN: 1561-896X