Protecting expatriates in hostile environments: institutional forces influencing the safety and security practices of internationally active organisations

Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Journal of Human Resource Management, 2019, 30 (11), pp. 1709 - 1736
Issue Date:
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© 2017, © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. The operations of internationally active organisations continue to encroach on hostile locations that are vulnerable to the negative consequences of crises such as political upheaval, terrorist attacks or natural disasters. Yet research into how firms ensure the physical and psychological safety and security of international staff in these locations is limited. This article reports an empirical study exploring the expatriate safety and security practices of 28 internationally active organisations from three industries that commonly operate in hostile environments. We unveil starkly different approaches across the three industries, and label these approaches ‘regulatory’ (mining and resources), ‘informal mentoring’ (news media) and ‘empowering’ (international aid and development). We use institutional theory to propose that these configurations reflect legitimacy-seeking choices that these organisations make in response to the various institutional environments that affect each sector. Our results provide a platform for initial theory building into the interrelated elements of organisations’ safety and security practices, and the institutional factors that shape the design of these.
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