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Special Issue: Low Status Expatriates

Special issue call for papers from Journal of Global Mobility


for a Special Issue of

Journal of Global Mobility




Paper submission deadline: 1 March 2019


Guest Editors:

Chris Brewster, University of Vaasa, University of Reading, Radboud University

Washika Haak-Saheem, Dubai Business School, University of Dubai

Jakob Lauring, Aarhus University, Denmark



This special issue seeks papers that theorise or/and empirically examine concerns of low status expatriates: individuals temporarily working as foreign nationals whose status in the host country is perceived to have an inferior rank compared to locals or other (higher status) expatriates (cf. Phinney, 1990).


Early research on expatriation concentrated almost exclusively on individuals in high status positions, on assigned expatriates (Black & Gregersen, 1990; Tung, 1998). Much recent research continues this focus. In this regard high status may be granted as a result of national origin (developed country), organizational affiliation (parent company assigned), position (managerial level) and identification with dominant majority groups based on ethnicity, religion, age, gender, or sexual orientation. Critically, although status differences exist in all societies, what is valued as high status or demoted as being associated with low status can vary across countries (Hofstede, 1991). In other words, what is high status in one country can be low status in another country – for example, being of a particular gender or skin colour, having specific education or being a member of a certain religious group (e.g. Chow, 1999; Selmer, Lauring, & Feng, 2009).


So far, we have learned much from research focused on high status expatriates, which has uncovered important aspects of international human resource management. However, recent work has expanded the research scope to begin exploring lower status expatriates, previously ‘hidden’ from the management scholarly discussion (Washika Haak-Saheem & Brewster, 2017). For example, reports show that around 150 million individuals with no, or limited, educational background live and work outside their country of origin as low-paid and (often) low-skilled expatriates (ILO 2015).


Based on such numbers and other indicators, scholars have begun to encourage the inclusion of more minority expatriate populations (Olsen & Martins, 2009). Correspondingly, such individuals are presumed to have a low power base and can be perceived as a weaker minority from social, legal, and economic perspectives (Ellemers, Doosje, van Knippenberg, & Wilke, 1992). They are therefore likely to face difficulties in accessing resources and recognition (Bourdieu, 2004).


So far, expatriate studies have addressed the concerns of low status expatriates from developing countries in the Arabian Peninsula (Washika Haak-Saheem & Brewster, 2017; Lauring, 2013). Other studies have examined discrimination and degradation of expatriates based on gender or sexuality (Bader, Störmer, Bader, & Schuster, 2018; Hutchings, Michailova, & Harrison, 2013; Kim & von Glinow, 2017). Olsen and Martins (2009) argue that the more prestigious an expatriates’ racial or ethnic group is deemed to be by local employees and the host community the more support they will receive. This is confirmed by more recent research, showing that expatriates perceive their ethnic and racial identity as having the greatest impact on the response they get when interacting with host country nationals (W. Haak-Saheem, Festing, & Darwish, 2017). Additionally, studies are emerging distinguishing between expatriates in higher and lower status based on position level (Lauring, Selmer, & Kubovcikova, 2017; Stahl & Caligiuri, 2005) or their connection to a parent company (Tarique, Schuler, & Gong, 2006).




Call for Papers:

Given this scarcity of research on low status expatriates, the objective of this special issue is to shed light on this under-studied area. In particular, we seek a range of perspectives that give us further insight into the work and life conditions of low status expatriates and how their experiences parallel or diverge from other groups of expatriates.


A number of different research approaches dealing with the social, economic, and legal status of expatriates would be suitable for inclusion in this special issue. These can be original empirical studies (both inductive and deductive), and conceptual papers that review and critique existing literature with a view to extending or developing theory. Different disciplinary perspectives such as sociology, psychology, migration studies, human geography, law and occupational health (among others) are welcome, as is interdisciplinary research. The only proviso is that these studies address working expatriates (see McNulty & Brewster, 2017). We also encourage submissions addressing other agents (stakeholders, third parties, or systems) affecting the employment situation of low status expatriates (e.g. employers, co-workers, non-profit agencies, and legal institutions). Finally, we welcome analyses that cross different levels including individuals, teams, MNE business units and/or organisations.


We encourage preliminary ideas about topics from prospective contributors and would be happy to discuss suggestions. For guidance, however, an illustrative list of topics includes:

·         Theory and method for studying low status expatriates: What theoretical lenses offer understanding of low status expatriates (e.g. social dominance theory; system justification theory; social identity theory)? What types of research methods are appropriate to assess the lives of low status expatriates (e.g. longitudinal studies, participant observation, qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods)?

·         The mode of mobility of low paid expatriates:  What motivates low paid expatriates to live and work in a host country?  What is the role of their families? How do these individuals arrange and organize their stay in the host country? What is the role of religion and spirituality in their international transfer?

·         The self-perception of low status expatriates: How do low status expatriates see themselves in relation to dominating majority groups? How does low status affect the self-esteem and productivity of expatriates? How do low status expatriates adjust to and cope with the negative consequences of their social position?

·         Health and safety of low paid expatriates: What are the implications of being separated from the immediate family on the psychological and physical well-being of these expatriates? How safe and secure are the working and living conditions compared to other groups of expatriates and local nationals?

·         Reference context of low status expatriates: What reference group do they compare themselves to when making judgments about their pay, accommodation, and work conditions?    

·         The management of low status expatriates: How do traditional human resources management practices like recruitment, selection, training, appraisal, and performance management apply to low status expatriates? What can organizations do to ensure a rewarding work and private life for weaker minorities among expatriates and protect them from discrimination? How does group membership or isolation affect low status expatriates?

·         The non-work situation for low status expatriates: What does low status mean for the family and work lives of expatriates?  Is the concept of work-life balance applicable to low status expatriates?

·         Careers of low status expatriates: What are the short-term and long-term career consequences of working as a low status expatriate? What are the possibilities and consequences of upward mobility of low status expatriates?

·         The role of external factors and stakeholders for low status expatriates: How do relationships between low status expatriates and local colleagues develop? How do institutional factors affect the experiences of low status expatriates? How is status perceived differently in different countries?


Submission Process and Timeline

Submitted papers must be based on original material not under consideration by any other journal or publishing outlet. The editors will select up to five papers to be included in the Special Issue, but other submissions may be considered for regular issues of the journal. All papers will undergo a double-blind peer review process and will be evaluated by at least two reviewers and a Special Issue editor.


To be considered for the Special Issue, manuscripts can be submitted anytime between October 2018 and February 2019 but no later than March 1, 2019, 5:00pm (Central European Time). Final acceptance is dependent on the following:


(1)   Theoretical contribution: Does the article offer novel and innovative insights and/or meaningfully extend existing theory in the field of global mobility?

(2)   Empirical contribution: Does the article offer novel findings and are the study design, analysis, and results rigorous and appropriate in testing hypotheses or research questions? How does the study enhance the current understanding on low status expatriates?

(3)   Practical contribution: Does the article improve the management of global mobility? What are the implications for HRM policies and practice?

(4)   Contribution to the special issue topic.


Authors should prepare their manuscripts for blind review according to the Journal of Global Mobility author guidelines, available at here. Please remove any information that may potentially reveal the identity of the authors to the reviewers. Manuscripts should be submitted electronically at: http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/jgmob. For enquiries regarding the special issue please contact Jakob Lauring at jala@mgmt.au.dk


Important dates

Paper submission deadline: March 1, 2019

Acceptance notification: September 1, 2019

Publication:  December 2019



Bader, B., Störmer, S., Bader, A. K., & Schuster, T. (2018). Institutional discrimination of women and workplace harassment of female expatriates: Evidence from 25 host countries. Journal of Global Mobility, 6(1).

Black, J. S., & Gregersen, H. B. (1990). Expectations, satisfaction, and intentions to leave of American expatriate managers in Japan. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 14(4), 485-506.

Bourdieu, P. (2004). Distinction: A social critique of the judgment of taste. London: Routledge.

Chow, N. (1999). Diminishing filial piety and the changing role and status of the elders in hong kong. Hallym International Journal of Aging, 1, 67-77.

Ellemers, N., Doosje, B., van Knippenberg, A., & Wilke, H. (1992). Status protection in high status minority groups. European Journal of Social Psychology, 22(2), 123-140.

Haak-Saheem, W., & Brewster, C. (2017). ‘Hidden’ expatriates: International mobility in the United Arab Emirates as a challenge to current understanding of expatriation. Human Resource Management Journal, 27(3), 423-439. doi:10.1111/1748-8583.12147

Haak-Saheem, W., Festing, M., & Darwish, T. K. (2017). International human resource management in the Arab Gulf States: An institutional perspective. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 28(18), 2684-2712.

Hofstede, G. (1991). Cultures and organizations: Software of the mind. London: MCGraw publications.

Hutchings, K., Michailova, S., & Harrison, E. C. (2013). Neither ghettoed nor cosmopolitan: A study of western women’s perceptions of gender and cultural stereotyping in the UAE. Management International Review, 53(2), 291–318.

Kim, K., & von Glinow, M. A. (2017). Contextual determinants in disclosing one’s stigmatized identity during expatriation: The case of lesbian and gay self-initiated expatriates. Journal of Global Mobility, 3(5).

Lauring, J. (2013). International diversity management: Global ideals and local responses. British Journal of Management, 24(2), 211–224.

Lauring, J., Selmer, J., & Kubovcikova, A. (2017). Personality in context: Effective traits for expatriate managers at different levels. International Journal of Human Resource Management, doi:10.1080/09585192.2017.1381137  

McNulty, Y., & Brewster, C. (2017). Theorizing the meaning(s) of ‘expatriate’: Establishing boundary conditions for business expatriates. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 28(1), 27-61

Olsen, J. E., & Martins, L. L. (2009). The effects of expatriate demographic characteristics on adjustment: A social identity approach. Human Resource Management, 48(2), 311-328.

Phinney, J. S. (1990). Ethnic identity in adolescents and adults: Review of research. Psychological Bulletin, 108(3), 499-514.

Selmer, J., Lauring, J., & Feng, Y. (2009). Age and expatriate job performance in Greater China. Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal, 16, 131-148.

Stahl, G. K., & Caligiuri, P. (2005). The effectiveness of expatriate coping strategies: The moderating role of cultural distance, position level, and time on the international assignment. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90(4), 603-615.

Tarique, I., Schuler, R., & Gong, Y. (2006). A model of multinational enterprise subsidiary staffing composition. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 17(2), 207-224. doi:10.1080/09585190500404424

Tung, R. L. (1998). American expatriates abroad: From neophytes to cosmopolitans. Journal of World Business, 33(2), 125-144.