An examination of the antecedents and outcomes of career capital development during international assignments: A study of repatriates
McCarter, Amy Mary
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This study focuses on individual development, characterised as career capital, in the context of traditional international assignments (IAs). Individual development is a key concern for multinational enterprises. Similarly, career considerations are central to the decision of individuals, who seek to undertake IAs. It is widely accepted that IAs provide opportunities for professional and personal development. IAs are generally positioned as mutually beneficial, in delivering strategic organisational goals such as talent development, while simultaneously positioned as career enhancing opportunities for expatriates. As such, the acquisition of career capital has implications for both individuals and organisations. Yet to date, research has given limited attention to individual development and the potential strategic value of career capital in these contexts. This is significant, given the developmental objective central to many IAs. This study is guided by two research objectives. The first research objective examines the antecedents of career capital development during IAs. Drawing on job demands-resources theory, a series of hypotheses are developed to consider the individual, organisational and contextual antecedents that may facilitate career capital development during IAs. The second research objective investigates the organisational and individual outcomes of career capital development after repatriation. A series of hypotheses are developed to examine the relationship between career capital, reverse knowledge transfer, repatriate performance and individual career success. Data were collected from organisationally assigned repatriates (N=312) in the form of a survey. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses, as well as path analysis, were employed to analyse the data, and test the hypothesised relationships around the two theoretical frameworks. The results reveal that perceived career support, host country national support, self-efficacy, cultural intelligence and future work self salience are key resources in the development of career capital during IAs. Additionally, cultural novelty appeared to enhance the effect of resources on career capital development in some cases. Furthermore, career capital development was positively related to repatriate disseminative capacity, while disseminative capacity was related reverse knowledge transfer. Finally, results revealed that reverse knowledge transfer was significantly correlated with repatriate performance and objective career success. A discussion of the findings is provided as well as implications for theory and practice. Findings from this study advance career capital literature, by departing from extant approaches, to adopt a broad, quantitative focus to examine the antecedents and outcomes of career capital. It is the first study to theoretically construct and empirically test relationships around career capital. Second, this study contributes to the IA literature by providing a fresh perspective to expatriation, through the examination of individual development. Furthermore, it makes considerable contributions to the careers literature, by extending knowledge of contemporary career perspectives and establishing relationships between knowledge transfer and individual career success.