Careers Upon Repatriation: Comparing the Re-entry into the German and French Labor Markets Based on Bourdieu's Theory of Practice

Abstract : A significant amount of German and French career agents are involved with international careers. Given that many assigned expatriates quit their employer already abroad or shortly upon return and that self-initiated expatriates do not have any repatriation agreement, investigating the repatriation from an external labor market perspective is a highly pertinent topic. However, the repatriation of assigned expatriates has so far first and foremost been investigated from the internal labor market perspective and the repatriation of self-initiated expatriates is largely under-researched in general. Applying Bourdieu's Theory of Practice and reconciling the culturalist and institutionalist approaches in comparative research, this thesis takes an interpretivist epistemological position and compares the repatriation of German and French career agents into the external labor markets of their parent country career fields. A qualitative content analysis of 40 semi-structured interviews shows that the German and French career agents' career capital and habitus develops during expatriation, which has an important impact on the re-integration into the parent country career field. Based on our developed critical portfolio of elements for the successful return into the German and French career fields and resulting from our German and French repatriation models as a complex interplay of variables that emerged through our deductive and data-driven open and axial coding, we found that the re-entry conditions into the German and French career fields are in some parts similar, but more strongly differ. While this indicates the existence of national borders of career fields, our results also show that in an international career mobility context, the rules of the game change compared to the rules in a pure national career context, which challenges the pertinence of national career models in understanding repatriation in a Franco-German context. Our research contributes to the existing literature by clarifying the rules of the game in a Franco-German repatriation context and by providing empirical evidence for the only partially autonomous nature of Bourdieuian career fields that must be viewed in interaction with the economic and educational field for creating a complete understanding of the return-mechanisms. While the interplay between field, capital and habitus enables us to view repatriation from a holistic perspective, we found that it remains the field that decides about that transformation of the Bourdieuian elements into symbolic capital. This confirms the strong structuralist orientation of the Bourdieuian theory, which is also pertinent in an international career mobility context. Based on our results, we suggest managerial implications on the individual and company level. Limitations of our research are discussed and areas for further research are recommended.
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https://hal-univ-lyon3.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00975575
Contributor : Matthias Walther <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 6:48:12 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, January 23, 2019 - 7:48:11 PM

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Matthias Walther. Careers Upon Repatriation: Comparing the Re-entry into the German and French Labor Markets Based on Bourdieu's Theory of Practice. 2014. ⟨hal-00975575⟩

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