Although research has shown differences between self-initiated experiences and expatriation, this differentiation has rarely been made when it comes to more long-term global careers. The purpose of this paper is to identify similarities and differences between repeat expatriates and international itinerants in their career paths, subjective experiences, and narratives of how they relate to their context.
A narrative approach was used and interviews were conducted with ten repeat expatriates and ten international itinerants. The career paths of the 20 Swedish global careerists and how they narrate their careers are analyzed, and the two types of global careerists are compared.
Results show that the repeat expatriates and international itinerants differ in their subjective experiences of global careers, and how they narrate them. Three broad domains are identified that integrate a range of issues that are important for global careerists. These domains are the organization and career domain, the country and culture domain, and the family, communities, and networks domain. The repeat expatriates and international itinerants differ in how they relate to these and what is important to them.
The differences found have implications for organizations in terms of recruitment, management, and retention of a global talent pool.
This research contributes to the understanding of subjective experiences of global careers and integrates a range of aspects in the context of global careerists that are important to them. Moreover, it contributes to the understanding of global careers by differentiating between those with intra- and inter-organizational global careers.
2014. Vol. 2, no 2, 183-202 p.