Expatriates in Aidland: Humanitarian Aid & Development Expatriates

Edward Elgar
Publication Type:
Research Handbook of Expatriates, 2017, pp. 368 - 392
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This chapter addresses a group of expatriates often overlooked by business and management researchers, but who comprise a large and growing proportion of the globally mobile workforce. These are expatriates working in humanitarian aid and development cooperation (international aid and development, or IAD). As this chapter makes clear, the sector is far from homogenous and defies easy categorisation. Notwithstanding this, the umbrella term ‘Aidland’ of the chapter’s title is a metaphorical construct coined by a social anthropologist to describe the virtual, cultural and geographic spaces that exist in the provision of aid and development; for expatriates, this is often a third cultural space separate from their home and host cultures, with established vernacular, mores, artefacts and discourses that are distinct and often a source of shared identity to its inhabitants. The chapter contains five sections. First, I demystify some of the bewildering terminology, concepts and actors that populate the sector. Following this, the operating context of Aidland is canvassed, focusing on features that make the expatriate experience distinctive. Next, an overview of the research base that has examined expatriates in this sector is presented and discussed. It combines literature from within aid and development with literature from the business and management sphere. This is followed by a discussion of future research possibilities, and concluding thoughts.
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