Work-life balance among self-initiated expatriates in Singapore: Definitions, challenges, and resources

Eunae Cho, Ice Asher Chew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


With the globalization of the labor market, the number of self-initiated expatriates (SIEs) continues to increase. This study contributes to the emerging literature on SIEs by exploring issues of work-life balance (WLB). We conducted a qualitative study utilizing a grounded theory approach through semi-structured face-to-face interviews to explore the definition of, challenges to, and resources for WLB among SIEs. Based on the literature, individuals who initiated international relocation, possess professional qualifications, have the intention to stay in the host country temporarily, and have a regular employment status were interviewed (N = 14). The results revealed four themes in the definition of WLB: time management; psychological detachment; fulfillment at work and outside work; and diverse perspectives. Regarding factors that shape WLB, our findings suggest that SIEs’ WLB is shaped by a complex interplay of factors in the work domain, the nonwork domain, and individual attributes. The results also highlight the multi-faceted nature of SIEs – individuals who share commonalities with assigned expatriates (AEs) and domestic employees while possessing unique characteristics as those who initiate the expatriation on their own. Considering that WLB is a salient issue among SIEs, support that mitigates the challenges and builds the resources to foster WLB will aid global talent management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4612-4623
Number of pages12
JournalCurrent Psychology
Issue number9
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Challenges
  • Qualitative research
  • Resources
  • Self-initiated expatriate
  • Singapore
  • Work-life balance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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