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Case Studies

When a phenomenon is under-researched, a case study can be particularly appropriate, providing a valuable source of insight, theory, and data about the phenomenon (Eisenhardt, 1989; Marshall & Rossman, 2014). As mentioned earlier, non-traditional expatriates have not received sufficient research attention. The case study is capable of a holistic perspective and a deeper exploration of non-traditional expatriates’ international work experiences. In this regard, the purpose of this case study is to develop a clearer understanding of how human capital management influences job- related outcomes, such as talent development and innovation.

Cases are selected based on purposeful and theoretical sampling. Each case was reported by a combination of written answers and in-depth clinical interviews. Interview questions (see Appendix 1) were provided to each participant in advance of the interview. Then participants were interviewed with follow-up questions based on respondent answers. The interview was conducted over a two-month period (August to September, 2015) and the length of interviews ranged from 40 to 70 minutes. The first two interviews were conducted via Skype due to distance. The use of Skype allows participants to carry out interviews in their personal location, so that participants feel comfortable (Hanna, 2012 ; Lev, 2007). This is important, especially when the research focuses on a “private” and “sensitive” issue. The remaining two interviews were conducted face-to-face. All interviews were conducted in English, audiotaped with the participant’s permission, and were transcribed verbatim.

The interview transcripts were analyzed manually and narrative analysis was used to help capture how participants define and construct their experiences, providing rich descriptions and hidden perspectives (Abbott, 1992; Bossard & Peterson, 2005; Orbuch, 1997; Yoddumnern- Attig, Attig, & Boonchalaksi, 1991). In other words, its focus lies on the “actor’s point of view” (Hannabuss, 1996) . To illustrate this, we focus on an emic approach in cross-cultural research. Since the terms “etic and emic approaches” were coined by Pike (1967), these two different approaches have been frequently used in studying cultures (Berry,

1969, 1989; Peterson & Pike, 2002). While an etic approach observes a culture by imposing a set of universal values (i.e., external or outsiders’ viewpoint) onto that culture being studied, an emic approach takes a native or insider’s point of view as its starting point (Malinowski, 1922). In other words, the emic approach is driven by how insiders sort their stories with a “thick description” (i.e., which means, not just describing the event itself but explaining its social context as well) (Geertz, 1973). In taking an emic approach, we can better understand and contextualize individuals in their daily lives, including their attitudes and motives (Berry, 1989) and eventually rewrite and resituate reality for the future (Mott-Stenerson, 2008). This paper focuses in detail on participants’ stories at the emic level of narrative analysis.

Although narrative analysis has been frequently used in the social sciences (Czarniawska, 2004), there has been an increased interest in the use of narration across other disciplines including business research (Boje, 2001; Czarniawska, 1998; Gedro et al., 2013; Gertsen & Soderberg, 2010 ; Soderberg, 2006; Von Glinow, Shapiro, & Brett, 2004; Watson, 2009). Soin and Scheytt (2006) highlighted the importance of a narrative analysis in cross-cultural research. Similarly, Glanz (1993) insisted that stories told by existing employees to the newcomer can lead to more effective and valuable learning than formal training programs.


Four case participants were recruited through snowball sampling. Participants were invited to participate in the study by email and personal contact.

Participants were expatriates self-identified as LGBTs. This study included both organizational expatriates (OEs), those who are sent by their home MNEs on IAs and self-initiated expatriates (SIEs), those who themselves make the decision to work abroad (Peltokorpi & Jintae Froese, 2009). Participants represented a wide range of expatriation from academia to the agricultural industry (see Appendix 2).

Although bisexual and transgender expatriates were not intentionally excluded, due to the researchers’ limited access, they were left out of the current study. Three gay expatriates and one lesbian expatriate were interviewed in total.

Each participant was informed that the research would be conducted following the university’s ethical protocols and all responses would be treated in confidence.

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