Tales of transformation: Expatriate encounters with local contexts : A postcolonial reading

Detta är en avhandling från Stockholm : Stockholm Business School, Stockholm University

Sammanfattning: The thesis examines how and in what sense expatriates are changed and transformed by their intercultural experiences. In doing so it seeks to complement more efficiency-oriented expatriation studies by outlining a relational and contextual view inspired by postcolonialism. By this approach the thesis calls into doubt, firstly, the identity transformation of expatriates as a result of their encounter with the Other, and secondly, the implicit assumption of the universalism of Western international management.By analyzing the narratives of expatriates working in Egypt, including the representations they create of selves and others, the findings of this study suggest that expatriates display a considerable lack of knowledge of and integration with others, which affects their overall ability to understand and interact with the local society. Expatriates instead enact a superficial adjustment, built on a partly simulated or imagined knowledge of others, and re-write their outsidehood as a perspective enabling detachment.Leaning on their resources, such as their professional competence, their mobility and their social privileges, expatriates design their experiences in the local context, generally under-evaluating relational and contextual aspects. They create narratives that highlight their personalized coping skills and their self-enhancing development. The thesis argues that these persuasive narratives conceal the imaginary character of expatriates’ knowledge, and that although expatriates learn about themselves and learn to handle others, they seldom learn from others.To be more profoundly affected by what the Other has to offer, the thesis suggests that expatriates should strive to increase their proximity to others.

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