Expatriate Managers: The Paradoxes of Living and Working Abroad, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Expatriate Managers

The Paradoxes of Living and Working Abroad, 1st Edition

By Anna Spiegel, Ursula Mense-Petermann, Bastian Bredenkötter


242 pages

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Hardback: 9781138190214
pub: 2017-10-23
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315641218
pub: 2017-10-18
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Since the 1990s, economic and cultural globalization has propelled the transnational mobility of managers and fueled cross-border careers. Some scholars have argued for the emergence of a new global business elite with cosmopolitan mind-sets and homogeneous lifestyles, while others have highlighted their disconnection from the local surroundings and their everyday life within national expatriate ‘bubbles’. Thus, the question of whether today’s mobile professionals can be described as interculturally open and competent cosmopolitans, or as pronounced anti-cosmopolitans, is still unanswered.

Expatriate Managers and the Paradoxes of Working and Living Abroad considers a core protagonist of economic globalization and the management of MNCs through the lens of a practice-based theoretical approach whilst seeking to address this question by building on intensive ethnographic case studies of expatriate managers, most of them high-ranking executives, from two comparative different home countries, the US and Germany. These managers, together with their families, have been assigned to China, Germany, or the US to perform demanding coordination tasks within their multinational corporations (MNCs). Based on detailed accounts of expatriate managers’ experiences and everyday practices, the book reveals the multiple and sometimes paradoxical ways in which they deal with cultural differences as they build up new forms of working, belonging and dwelling.

The findings suggest that the newly emerging mind-sets and lifestyles of expatriate managers transcend the polarized images of mobile elites as either cosmopolitan ‘global managers’ or parochial anti-cosmopolitans. Expatriate Managers and the Paradoxes of Working and Living Abroad examines the global elite from an everyday perspective, showing that understanding the dynamics of a global economy requires probing into the lifeworld’s agency and everyday arrangements of the social actors who are putting globalization into practice.


"This book reveals important insights into the complexities and realities of the lives and works of international managers and their families. Based on rigorous academic research, it provides a ‘close-up and personal’ picture of the realities of managing in a global world."Susanne Tietze, University of Keele

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

Anna Spiegel and Ursula Mense-Petermann

Part 1: Embedding the Expatriate Manager

2. Working in Transnational Social Spaces: Expatriate Managers in Transnationally Integrated MNCs

Ursula Mense-Petermann

3. Expatriate Managers as Boundary Spanners in MNCs

Bastian Bredenkötter

4. Cosmopolitans or Parochial Anti-Cosmopolitans? Expatriate Managers’ Resources, Social Positions, and Orientations

Anna Spiegel and Ursula Mense-Petermann

Part 2: Negotiating Difference in the Private Sphere

5. Difference, Spatiality, and Sociability in the Everyday Life of Expatriate Managers

Anna Spiegel

6. Gendered Mobilities, Gendered Cosmopolitanism: Male and Female Expatriate Managers and Their Accompanying Spouses

Anna Spiegel

Part 3: Negotiating Difference in the Professional Sphere

7. Role-taking and Role-making: Expatriates as Creative Organizational Boundary Spanners in MNCs

Bastian Bredenkötter

8. Expatriate Managers as Cosmopolitan Professionals? Dealing with Difference at the Work Place

Anna Spiegel

Part 4: Comparative Perspectives and Conclusion

9. Host Country Effects? How Host Locality Properties Impact Practiced Cosmopolitanism

Ursula Mense-Petermann

10. Conclusion: The Paradoxes of Practiced Elite Cosmopolitanism

Anna Spiegel

About the Authors

Ursula Mense-Petermann is a Professor at Bielefeld University, Germany.

Anna Spiegel is a Postdoctoral Researcher at Bielefeld University, Germany.

Bastian Bredenkötter is a Doctoral Researcher at Bielefeld University, Germany.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in International Business and the World Economy

As ever-increasing proportion of the world's business takes place across national borders, the need to understand the motive forces behind international business becomes greater. Transnationals are now, in many cases, as important as national governments in shaping trade flows and economic trends. As this series demonstrates, international business is not just the preserve of the largest companies, but impacts on all aspects of business and economic activity. This series is essential reading for policy makers as well as researchers in international business and applied international economics.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Careers / General
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Human Resources & Personnel Management
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / International / General
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Workplace Culture