For a number of years, the expatriate's return home has been the subject of serious reflection on the part of commercial enterprises as well as governmental and non-governmental organizations. In some countries public administrators have also been concerned with the international mobility of their employees. Severe problems have often been reported in the process of reintegrating expatriates into the organization or into the workforce. Workers, volunteers, students, and others who have been living abroad have reported problems in readapting to life in their native land after a significant absence. In fact, returning from expatriation is not the simple homecoming we would like or expect it to be. Both challenges and opportunities present themselves to the returning individuals and their sending organizations. Each new situation calls on their ability to adapt.
Generally speaking, there are two principal uses for Cultural Detective The Return:
- To assist and support returning expatriates (and their partners and family) as they face the challenges of reentry. To help individuals or groups make the most of the return experience. Use it as soon as the decision to return has been made, either before or after the actual return.
- To enhance the competence of HR personnel, line managers, team leaders, and relocation specialists who are or will be working with returning expatriates as they reintegrate into their workplace and social setting. In many cases these individuals will also be preparing themselves to use the Cultural Detective: The Return as a tool in the reintegration process.
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Cultural Detective The Return contains the following stories and critical incidents:
- I Used to Be Important but I Ain’t Anymore!:
Accorded considerable status and recognition overseas, a returnee feels anonymous upon repatriation.
- If It Was So Great Over There, Why Don’t You Go Back?:
A returnee faces not only lifestyle adjustments but a family that seems uninterested in her life-changing experience in another country.
- Lost Identity:
A returning expat feels more like a foreigner than a native when he returns home and tries to establish a normal life.
- No Tank Top (sleeveless blouse):
Upon returning home, a diplomat finds that some of the values she has internalized from her former host society are not compatible with the values that prevail in her own country.
- Welcome Wagon:
A returning spouse finds it more difficult to build a social network at home than abroad.
- Disappointing Job, A:
A manager loses autonomy and responsibility upon returning to her parent organization.