Career capital development of self-initiated expatriates in Qatar: Cosmopolitan globetrotters, experts and outsiders

Jenny Rodriguez, Tracy Scurry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper explores career capital development of self-initiated expatriates (SIEs) in the Middle East, reporting on data gathered in Qatar from 20 in-depth semi-structured interviews. The findings challenge the notion that self-initiated expatriation always leads to career capital accumulation, arguing instead that contextual features impact individuals' agentic efforts towards career capital accumulation and lead them to experience ‘career capital stagnation’. Qatarisation is the overarching influence on the status of SIEs in the country and places structural constraints that translate into limited organisational opportunities and support for SIEs. Individually, SIEs reside rhetorically within complex dualities characterised by feelings of cosmopolitanism and isolation. Whilst individuals narrate the context in utilitarian terms as a means to a broader aim of global experience, everyday practicalities of their work and life are problematised. Narratives of career capital development are organised in three themes: SIEs as cosmopolitan globetrotters (micro-individual level), SIEs as experts (meso-organisational level) and SIEs as outsiders (macro-country level). The paper contributes to broadening the discussion on the relationship between self-initiated expatriation and context, and its implications on careers. Empirically, it adds to our understanding of SIEs, in particular their experiences of career capital development in the highly regulated context of the Middle East.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)190-211
JournalThe International Journal of Human Resource Management
Issue number1-2
Early online date23 Sept 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • career capital
  • career development
  • HRM
  • Middle East
  • Qatar
  • self-initiated expatriates


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