Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

T. Grandon Gill, DBA

Co-Major Professor

Dejun Kong, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Priya Dozier, DBA

Committee Member

Robyn Lord, DBA

Committee Member

Tianxia Yang, Ph.D.


Cross-cultural, Cultural, Expatriate, Intercultural, Repatriation, Selection


The academic community has researched expatriate work for over five decades, but the problems identified in the 1960s persist. This study focuses on the assigned expatriate, defined as an individual on overseas assignment for his or her employer. It uses qualitative semi-structured interviews and a phenomenological approach to answer questions research has largely ignored: What are the distinctive characteristics of life and work as an assigned expatriate? How do assigned expatriates perceive their expatriate experience? The scope includes selection, preparation, life and work abroad, and repatriation, investigating the experiences of expatriates on assignments for the U.S. military, civil government, and the private sector. The purpose is to inform the human resource functions of job analysis and design, which are necessary guides to selection, training, evaluation, and compensation. The results should also inform potential expatriates of what they can expect, better informing their career and lifepath decision. The study concludes that the successful assigned expatriate’s experience during life and work abroad is defined by constant learning, the building of relationships vital to the expatriate’s success and well-being, and engagement with and adaptation to the new environment – particularly the host nation culture. The study also concludes assigned expatriates perceive their experience as transformative, permanently altering their self-image, worldview, and lifepath. Successful expatriates report a greater interest in other cultures and the world outside their borders, an increased ability to shift perspective, and a greater need to see the impact of their work.