Narratives of identity of self-initiated expatriates in Qatar

Tracy Scurry, Jenny Rodriguez, Sarah Bailouni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The paper aims to contribute to the discussion about how SIEs articulate narratives as cognitive efforts to expand, restrict or adapt their repertoire of identities in highly regulated environments. Drawing from a social constructivist positioning, the paper explores situated social and relational practices using a qualitative framework that relied on primary data gathering through semi‐structured interviews. Qatar is a context of particular interest for exploring identity narratives of SIEs given the highly regulated environment and the large numbers of non‐nationals within the overall workforce. The study was conducted in an anonymous Qatari public shareholding company. Findings suggest that narratives of self are framed in relation to structural constraints and patterns of adaptation. These reveal the interplay between identity, careers and self‐initiated expatriation at macro‐country and micro‐individual levels. As part of these themes, narratives of mobility and opportunity emerged in reference to career experiences and discussions about themselves (lives, identities, and expectations). The paper contributes to our current understanding of SIEs and encourages us to consider the importance of context in shaping the SIE experience. Similarly, the scarcity of literature about SIEs in GCC countries makes this paper a timely contribution. These contributions have significant implications not only for theoretical discussions about SIEs, but also for discussions on the interplay between migration, identity and global careers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-33
JournalCareer Development International
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • self-initiated expatriates
  • careers
  • narratives
  • identity
  • Qatar
  • GCC


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