Research Handbook on Women in International Management
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Research Handbook on Women in International Management

Edited by Kate Hutchings and Snejina Michailova

The Research Handbook on Women in International Management is a carefully designed collection of contributions that provides a thorough and nuanced discussion of how women engage in international management. It also offers important insights into emerging and new areas of research warranting future consideration.
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Chapter 13: Women as female breadwinners in non-traditional expatriate families: Status-reversal marriages, single parents, split families, and lesbian partnerships

Yvonne McNulty


The context within which expatriation takes place has for years been dominated by the traditional view that international assignees are typically senior male staff in their late 40s or early 50s, sent by a corporate Western headquarters to a subsidiary office in another country (Taylor, Napier, and Mayrhofer, 2002). These assignees generally have a generous remuneration package with substantial benefits and premiums - cost of living allowance, housing allowance, home leave, country club membership, tax equalization if required, annual bonus, hardship premium, and school fees, among others - and they are almost always accompanied by their (often non-working) wife, and children. Over the past decade this view has changed, largely because conventional wisdom concerning the traditional international assignee has become not just unproductive, but counter-productive, wherein using the 'traditional' type of expatriate has caused an unnecessary reduction in the available talent pool (McNulty and Inkson, 2013; Shortland, 2009). Today, the demographic data suggesting 'who' is an international assignee has been turned on its head (Brookfield Global Relocation Services (BGRS), 2012), with 'gender' in international assignments receiving considerable attention (Adler, 1987; Florkowski and Fogel, 1999). We now see more non-traditional expatriates emerging - executive women, married couples with no children, single and unaccompanied people, younger expatriates, and those from non-Western countries including Asian assignees - as companies attempt to expand their talent pool options while struggling to fulfil their global staffing needs.

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