A psychological contract perspective of expatriate failure

Hasuli Kumarika Perera, Elaine Yin Teng Chew, Ingrid Nielsen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    18 Citations (Scopus)


    The expatriate literature needs to move beyond maladjustment as a primary reason for expatriate failure. This article draws on the psychological contract as a valuable lens to observe changes in expatriate behavior that may determine expatriate success or failure on international assignments. Prior research on the expatriate psychological contract has focused solely on an expatriate's social exchange relationship with the assigning parent company. This article offers a dual-foci perspective of the expatriate psychological contract and suggests that expatriates’ perceptions of psychological contract breach arise from two sources—the assigning parent company and the receiving host company. The conceptualization of breach with dual foci forms the basis for the proposed model of expatriate failure. The model proposes that differences in expatriates’ contexts will influence their likelihood of perceiving breach and that breach, once perceived, will affect expatriate behavior through its influence on sense-making, affect, conation, and attitudes. The propositions developed in this article provide a foundation for future theorizing and empirical work on expatriate cognitions of psychological contract breach.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)479-499
    Number of pages21
    JournalHuman Resource Management
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017


    • expatriate failure
    • host company
    • international assignments
    • parent company
    • psychological contract breach
    • social exchange theory

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