Re-conceptualizing the career
development of self initiated
expatriates: rivers not ladders.
Journal of Management Development, 31 (2).
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore contemporary metaphors used in career literature
pertaining to career development in an international context.
Design/methodology/approach – Qualitative interviews with thirty-seven skilled self-initiated
expatriates in one geographical location were conducted and used for data analysis.
Findings – The metaphor of a “river” more aptly captures the career development directions and
influences experienced by skilled self-initiated expatriates.
Originality/value – The paper provides an analysis of career development influences which impact
on the career direction of self-initiated expatriates. It provides useful information and
recommendations for career (international career) academics and practitioners with regards to
career development influences to be considered with regards to skilled self-initiated expatriates.
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