Chapter 8: Expatriates’ safety and security during crisis
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Crisis events are on the rise globally – major natural disasters now affect over 140 million people worldwide each year and deaths from terrorism have increased five-fold since 2000. While these situations can occur anywhere, they take on magnified priority and challenge for expatriate staff. Expatriates may be an organization’s most valuable human assets. They can operate a long way from head office and in locations that are relatively unfamiliar, making monitoring and supporting their well-being complicated. Language, cultural and geographic distances can combine to make discerning and verifying threats more difficult than in familiar domestic contexts. Incidents of kidnapping, evacuation, injury and the murder of expatriates and their families are on the rise and reflect a new ‘reality’ for global organizations. This chapter reviews research into the safety and security issues associated with expatriation and the management of expatriates. It focuses on research into the ways in which MNEs ensure the well-being of their expatriate staff when a crisis unfolds. I clarify definitions relevant to this topic. I then summarise the current research base. Finally, a number of future research directions are canvassed. To exemplify some of the core practices evident in the literature, the chapter includes several illustrative case studies. These come from a suite of recent empirical studies of MNCs with which the author has been involved.

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