Repatriation outcomes affecting corporate ROI: a critical review and future agenda

Research output: Journal contributionsJournal articlesResearchpeer-review


Traditional corporate expatriate assignments play a crucial role in driving Multinational Corporations’ (MNCs’) business. While expatriate management literature long concentrated on facilitating the employees’ actual stay in the host countries, seminal research in the early 1990s demonstrated that their return home is entailed by crucial challenges as well. Scholarly interest in the topic of repatriation has increased considerably ever since. Over the past three decades, research has addressed a broad array of aspects to be considered upon the return of expatriates. Nevertheless, so far very few MNCs have formal repatriation strategies in place. However, by failing to manage the return of expatriates, firms jeopardize their corporate return on investment (cROI) of expatriation. Many of the repatriation outcomes discussed in existing research can have an effect on cROI as they create late but substantial costs and/or benefits for assigning MNCs. In order to further enhance the strategic integration of repatriation into the expatriate management process as well as to pave the way for future research on this important topic, this study reviews the current state of repatriation literature from a cROI-perspective. By examining 51 articles, we identify the range of cROI-affecting repatriation outcomes addressed so far in order to then classify the variables encountered according to their cost and benefit potential to assigning firms. We thereby outline potential shortcomings in existing literature to eventually deduce an agenda for future research on repatriation that aims at maximizing cROI in the long run.
Original languageEnglish
JournalManagement Review Quarterly
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)195-234
Number of pages40
Publication statusPublished - 01.06.2016

    Research areas

  • Management studies
  • Corporate return on investment (cROI), Expatriate management, International assignment, Repatriate, Repatriation, Repatriation outcomes