Self-initiated expatriation in the era of changing structures of work: A study of the motives and job search methods of Finnish self-initiated expatriates within the context of tourism industry in Thailand

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School of Business | Master's thesis
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Management and International Business (MIB)
Abstract The objective of this research is to study self-initiated expatriates within the context of changing structures of work. Self-initiated expatriates (SIE) are people who, by their own initiative, move abroad for work on temporary basis and who organize their expatriation themselves. This study focuses on the motives for expatriating and the job search methods of eight Finnish self-initiated expatriates who work or have worked in tourism industry in Thailand. This study first presents how SIEs are defined in previous literature, first compared to company-assigned expatriates and then on their own terms. Criticism regarding the research discussion of SIEs is presented before SIEs’ motives and reasons to expatriate are described in five chapters: SIE subgroups, motives, sub-motives, pull and push factors, and the freedom to choose location and employment as a motivator. Then, individual job search in the context of SIEs as well as job search methods from a general perspective are described and the significance of contacts in job search is discussed in more detail. Summary of presented literature concludes the literature review. Theoretical framework for the study is compiled based on the presented research discussions. Data for this study is derived from eight semi-structured interviews. By using thematic analysis, common themes are distinguished from the material regarding both motives and job search methods of SIEs. The results reveal that life change is the main motive for Finnish SIEs to expatriate to Thailand. Moreover, the expatriation is for these SIEs a lifestyle improvement project, that may not be related to work per se. For example, the most common sub-motive and pull factor that attracted Finnish SIEs about Thailand was climate. Most Finnish SIEs had visited Thailand in recreational trips prior expatriating there and the actual place experience acquired from these trips lowered the threshold for expatriating to Thailand. Finnish SIEs use in their job search both formal, informal, and other job search methods. Most common formal job search method is internship and the most common informal job search method is utilizing contact networks. Self-employment and being directly contacted by an employer are the other possible job search methods. Job search methods vary depending on whether a person is searching for work for the first time or for following times since many Finnish SIEs work seasonally in Thailand. When SIEs search for their first employment in Thailand, both formal and other job search methods are used. Continuation employment is secured most often using contact networks. Most Finnish SIEs have strong Finnish contact networks in Thailand that often assist them on their job search.
Thesis advisor
Vuorenmaa, Hertta
self-initiated expatriate, motive, job search method, changing structures of work
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