RIEB Discussion Paper Series No.2021-13

RIEB Discussion Paper Series No.2021-13


Adjustment of Expatriates' Work Practices during the Covid-19 Pandemic


Based on the grounded theory, this paper analyses the behavior of German expatriates in Japan. The qualitative inductive study generated two general themes: German expatriates’ adjustments of work practices in Japan and work practices outside Japan. During the lockdown as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, work adjustment in Japan brought a sense of isolation and expatriates reported difficulty in handling their roles. They also complained about the overflow of online meetings. There were further concerns that cost savings at the headquarters, in line with a stronger trend towards digitalization, would lead to a decrease in future expatriate assignments. Adjustment of expatriates’ work practices outside Japan was framed on successions and bridge-building activities. Besides others, the Covid-19 pandemic brought expatriates to feel much closer to the headquarters through electronic communication, the previously experienced “out of sight, out of mind” syndrome from earlier assignments became less relevant.


Covid-19 pandemic; Expatriate work practices; German expatriates; Japan; Lockdown


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