Introduction of repatriation

Repatriation is a process of returning back from a international assignment to a home country after completing the assignment or some other issues. The process of returning back to one's place of origin or citizenship. The term may also refer to the process of converting a foreign currency into the currency of one's own country.

The Value of Your Repatriates

It would seem apparent to all that an employee of any enterprise who adjusted well to a host culture in an international assignment and performed effectively there would be highly valued. This may be true among some companies. But there is evidence in many companies repatriates do not perceive they are valued. Such a viewpoint among repatriated employees may tend to contribute to the reported 20% of those repatriates who will seek other employment within two years of re-entry.

From the repatriate perspective, here are some of the reasons why repatriated employees are valuable assets:

  • Their successful international assignment has afforded them a valuable perspective on specific areas of the world, or markets in which the company does business.
  • As expatriates those employees learned many things that could be useful to those who will be sent to that same country--if--some means could be identified as to how they might be mentors to future expatriate employees. Their skills might include transfer of technology, managing cross-culturally, negotiating in a specific culture, communicating effectively in a host culture, and understanding the history and culture of a country in dimensions that would be invaluable to future international assignees there.
  • They can bring fresh and unusual approaches to information gathering, analysis of data, and problem-solving as a result of having work cross-culturally in an effective manner.
  • They may have become more flexible, or less rigid, in changing circumstances. In that different approaches have been tried in other contexts, they may be able to bring insights and innovation to the planning process that may not have been considered previously. This may increase their value to the company when helping it to shift from a domestic to a global perspective.
  • The returned expatriate who has performed at a high level in a host culture may bring a dimension of confidence and competence that will enhance his or her value to the company as it competes in a changing world market.
  • Having worked outside the culture of the company and the country, the repatriated employee may well have insights that can effect needed change. That perspective ought to be valued and given a voice within the company.
  • The repatriated employee will likely bring a greater tolerance for divergent ideas and less structured and orderly contexts in which to work. Rather than to be discouraged by such factors, he or she may be energized when confronted with the need to deal with such factors in daily operations.
  • The effective international employee may well have gained insights in how to affect a more coordinated group effort than encouraging individual achievement.

Repatriation Process

  1. Preparation: before 3-4 months of expatriate return
    • Developing plans for future and info about new position
    • Checklist of items before leaving (closure of bank a/c, bills etc.)
  2. Physical Relocation
    • Removal of personal belongings , breaking ties with friends, colleagues before returning
    • Re-entry training for home country's update, socio-cultural contrast orientation, psychological aspects etc.
  3. Transition:
    • Finding accommodations, school for children, opening bank A/c etc. for comfortable living.
    • Relocation consultants used.
  4. Readjustment
    • Coping with aspects as company changes , reverse culture shock and career demands
    • Eg. Repatriate returning from country where power distance is large as Thailand may experience stress on returning to small power distance countries like Denmark.

Repatriation of Expatriates

  • Repatriation
  • Return to one's home country from an overseas management assignment
  • Reasons for returning
  • Formally agreed-on tour of duty is over
  • Expats want their children educated in the home country
  • Unhappiness with foreign assignment
  • Failure to perform well
  • Major concerns of expatriates
  • Cultural Re-entry
  • Financial Implications
  • Nature of job assignment

Repatriation Problems

  • Adjusting to life back home
  • No job waiting for returning expatriates
  • Lack opportunity to use skills learned abroad upon return
  • Salary & benefits may decrease upon return
  • Permanent position upon return constitutes a demotion
  • Lost authority, autonomy in decision making
  • Lost promotional opportunities (out of sight, out of mind)


  • High rate of repatriate attrition
  • Almost $ 2,50,000 for the loss & replacement of an employee leaving the company after return from international assignment (Murray & Murray, 1986)

Multinational responses to repatriation

  1. Staff availability: current and future needs
    • If repatriate promoted ,International assignments as a positive career move
    • If repatriate demoted or given pink slips so vice versa.
  2. Return on investment (ROI)
    • Expatriates are expensive
    • Accomplishing assignment objectives at the expected cost
  3. Knowledge Transfer
    • Cross-fertilization of ideas and practices that assist in developing competitive advantage.
    • Build upon international experience of repatriates

Designing a Repatriation Program

  1. Mentor programs (Pairing expat with a member of home office senior mgmt):
    • Maintaining contact with the expatriate throughout the assignment
    • Ensuring that expatriates are kept up- to-date with developments in home country
    • Assisting expatriates in repatriation process
  2. Inviting repatriates in developing repatriation program
  3. Steps suggested for smooth transition

    • Arrange an event to welcome & recognize the employee & family
    • Establish support to facilitate family reintegration
    • Offer repatriation counseling or workshops to ease the adjustment
    • Assist the spouse with job counseling, resume writing & interviewing techniques
    • Provide educational counseling for the children
    • Provide employees with thorough debriefing to identify new knowledge, insights & skills to provide a forum to showcase new competencies
    • Offer international outplacement to the employee if no positions are possible
    • Arrange an interview with the expatriate & spouse to review their view of the assignment & address any repatriation issues

Review of Literature

Article no.1

(Managing employee repatriation)

This article is related with the support practices that HR professionals can consider to help managers develop realistic expectations about their work and non-work lives before repatriation, making the experience more positive and rewarding for all parties involved. In this they define that there are variety of ways to make contact with them. Agree what will happen after the repatriation. Pre-departure career discussions are a positive way for HR professionals to begin managing repatriate expectations. By defining an individual's repatriation job status early, they are less likely to worry about their situation and more likely to concentrate on the job in hand. As a result, they can better prepare for the repatriation when it eventually occurs.

Manage the additional knowledge and information that comes into the business.

In this they also consider the impact on work and personal relationships. The change in interpersonal relationships between repatriates, their colleagues and friends must also be a significant consideration. Family members and dependants also have a huge impact on the success of the repatriation. So the company has to decide it is worth to doing it or not. They have to analyse the each factor before taking a decision regarding repatriation.

In this article they are talk about that repatriation woes can be overcome or not. Companies invest heavily in sending employees for the international assignment when quit within months and return they are facing a reverse culture shock and unable to adjust in this environment. Before the international placement they have to look after the factors of their family also. Repatriation support does not end with the employee settling at the new place of assignment, but continues through the period of deployment.

So when people returning home after a long stint on an international assignment often find it difficult to adjust to the changes back home. Re-entry can bring on a certain amount alienation, restlessness, and dissatisfaction akin to an employee's experience when working in a foreign land. So at the end the organisations could give positive push to readjust in the company.

Article no.2

Expatriation is the expected encounter with the unfamiliar.

Repatriation is the unexpected encounter with the familiar.

In this article they talk about that when the family of assignee is coming back in the home country then company has to provide a Grovewell service culminatingand and one-day "HOMECOMING" coaching workshop. This service is of several months' duration because GROVEWELL contacts the family well before its departure from the host country. A Self-Study Guide is sent to family members, and a questionnaire is e-mailed for the family to complete and return. These items help the family prepare mentally and emotionally for a type of life event that many others have quite unexpectedly found emotionally disorienting. The one-day "Homecoming" coaching workshop itself usually occurs about a month after the family's return to its home country. when services end about a month after the workshop, the coach phones the family and offers follow-up coaching assistance and a final measure of encouragement. This will help the assignee and family to prepare before returning for the unexpected adjustment hurdles affecting returnees and to deal with the issues common to returning employees, spouses, teenagers, and children this will also help to rapidly regain the assignee's usual high level of performance on behalf of the firm and to create a personal/family action plan for seizing the opportunities of repatriation.

So both the homecoming workshop and grovewell service provider helps the assignee and family to adjust after coming back from the international assignment to their home country.

Article no.3

International Assignments: From Here to There and Back Again

In this article they are talking about the cross cultural programs and orientation and assistance that are offered to the expatriate and then the international relocation looks fairly comprehensive. A process for communication of policy has been put into place and everyone understands their role. In this article they said that the company has organized compensation benefits, allowances, tax planning, the immigration process and has even addressed language training. Finally, home disposal or rental management has been initiated and an experienced destination services company awaits the expatriate's arrival. After this the transferred employee and their families to another country may experienced many problems like assignment failure, Early return , Poor productivity during the assignment, Poor productivity after return and Repatriate attrition.

The international assignment management program described above does not necessarily address these potential problems. The company has to providing a comprehensive support program and planning the family's re-entry from the outset--creates a more satisfying experience for the employee and family and a more productive investment for the organization. A comprehensive international assignment management program increases the likelihood that the right candidates are selected for foreign assignments, provides them and their families with the information and training necessary to adapt in their new location, maintains ongoing support to the employees while abroad and plans the families' repatriation from the beginning.

Before sending expatriate to another country the company has to select the candidate and make his/her evaluation which is best and why. Then the company has to provide a cross cultural program and orientation for the support to learn about the culture of another country. The company has to be preparing with the repatriation process and help the assignee and their family. The employee's repatriation should be planned along with all the other components of the relocation at the outset, before the employee has even departed for the assignment in the first place.

At the last make them strategies for the support of repatriation.

Article no.4

Just when you think it's over.... The challenges of repatriation

In this article they are talking about the challenges face by the employee after repatriation.

They are talking about the most expensive element of the international assignment. All things considered, the answer is likely to be losing employees after repatriation. All too often, the difficulties of repatriation are underestimated and lead to the departure of key employees, and with them, a serious loss to companies.

The cost ofreturnee departuresof significant number of employees sent on expatriate assignment are high-level managers, with expertise or potential that their companies expect to retain for a long period of time. The risk to future assignments is Poorly managed repatriations can affect the morale of other employees or set a bad example for other international assignees. A company with a high turnover among former expatriates is sending a message that reintegration in the home country is not planned. Tracking repatriation retention is Very often, retention rates for former expatriates are monitored only for six months or a year after their return. There is a impact of international assignment on employee's career. "The purpose of repatriation is to reintegrate the employee into the home structure." Many HR professionals are (rightly) concerned that the skills of a good local manager might not be the same as those needed by a successful expatriate in a specific country. There is no such thing as easy and simple repatriation

Reverse culture shock is very much a reality, and the longer the expatriate has been abroad, the stronger it becomes. There is no such thing as an easy repatriation.

Article no.5

(Inbound Repatriate Cultural Adjustment)

This article is related with the cultural adjustment after coming back from the international assignment from another country. So this has been one aspect of the expatriate cultural adjustment process for a long time among persons working with those outbound to an expatriate assignment. Perhaps you have heard some speak of the stages of Unconscious Incompetence, Conscious Incompetence, Conscious Competence and Unconscious Competence.

In working with persons passing through the coming home process identified as repatriation, the author identified four stages experienced typically by those persons. Unaware Stranger: Repatriates usually expect to come home to things as they were when they departed on an international assignment. Cognizant Stranger: It usually does not take long for a repatriate to become acutely aware, "I am a stranger in my culture of origin." Deliberately at Home: Cultural adjustment to one's home culture at re-entry is often more demanding than adjusting to a host culture. Instinctively at Home: Feeling at ease as a repatriate does not occur automatically in the same way that one does not adjust immediately to a new culture in a host country

The employees have experienced inbound cultural adjustment after an expatriate assignment, so they comments on the four steps suggested for the repatriation process would be welcomed. If you have a corporate responsibility for expatriates and have not shared their experience, it is hoped these steps will equip you better for helping meet the needs of those employees when they go through the coming home experience in repatriation.

Article no.6

Repatriating Families: At Risk of Neglect

This article is related with the risk of neglecting the repatriating families. The author found evidence in my research and in working with families returning from international assignments that large numbers of former expats go through traumatic experiences when readjusting to their culture of origin.

So this article they said that Repatriation Services is ready to visit with you about how you can do at least two things that How you can lessen or eliminate the period of trauma, or lessen its intensity, among those of your employee families when going through the repatriation experiences and Reduce the risk of forfeiting your considerable investment on expatriate employees by conveying to them and their families this vital message as you provide them resources for repatriation. You are valued and appreciated by this company.

Research Methodology


My objective of study is as follows:-


My findings show that the repatriation process is more important for the repatriate than for the organization where social factors, such as family adjustment and cultural adjustment are very important for the repatriate. The repatriation process also tend to be more informal within the organizations, where guidelines for handling the entire repatriation process are not always formally outlined. By supporting and utilizing the repatriate and the individual's experiences through a well developed repatriation program, the main benefits are that it is possible to reduce inaccurate expectations and thereby the re-entry phase will become easier for all parties involved

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