The Research Forum was led by Families in Global Transition Research Network Director Sarah Gonzales and Co-Founder Ann Baker-Cottrell
Article by Meghali Pandey
The Research Forum was led by the Families in Global Transition (FIGT) Research Network. The FIGT Research Network is an interdisciplinary community of international professionals seeking to advance the knowledge base and understanding of individuals and families living across cultures and in global transition.
This Early Bird Forum focused on showcasing some of the latest work being carried out in the aforementioned areas by researchers around the world, and the broader activities of the research network. Some of the things made possible through this network include:
- Building relationships among/ between researchers, those that they study, as well as the consumers of their research.
- Encouraging and assisting researchers by facilitating the sharing of solutions to methodological challenges.
- Increasing awareness around emerging research.
- Supporting and guiding research using best practices.
- Promoting multidisciplinary research and literature.
Torben Anderson is a professor in the Department of Leadership and Corporate Strategy at the University of Southern Denmark, and a visiting professor at San Francisco State University and the University of Auckland. His research has mainly concentrated on the structural and strategic aspects of international human resource management.
Torben explained how his research chiefly addresses the empirical field of engineers, which is 70-80% male in its makeup. Exploring the question of ‘How do modern families make decisions about expatriation?’, Torben has found widely diverging results within the Danish expat population alone. There are marked differences between families who live in expat bubbles or westernized ‘ghettos’ versus those who ‘go native’, engaging more fully with the host culture. There are also differences between male and female roles when expatriating as the accompanying spouse.
Alix Carnot is the head of International Careers Development at Expat Communication, and the author of Chéri(e), On s'Expatrie: Guide de Survie à l'Usage des Couples Aventuriers. Having moved eight times in 15 years with her husband and four sons, she has developed considerable expertise on expatriate couples’ issues and dual international careers.
Through her research, Alix discovered that although 80% of French women wanted to continue working even after following their husbands for an international assignment, only 50% of this sample group actually achieved it. Most of these women indicated they wanted to work for fulfilment, and not merely money, often worrying about finding a job upon repatriation. In fact, many discovered they had regressed because of their expatriate experience.
Anna Maria Moore
Anna Maria Moore is a half-American, half-Swedish Adult Third Culture Kid (ATCK) who lived on five continents before the age of 18. Her research began in 2010, and focuses on the specific sample group of lovepats – those who move to, or live in their partner’s country. The main question she posited as part of the FIGT Research Forum was ‘Is it something about living in your partner’s country that makes it more challenging?’
Anna chiefly wants to research whether being an expatriate affects romantic and marital relationships. To date, she has surveyed people from 90 countries living in 74 countries, finding that 66% of those surveyed said it was “a sacrifice” to have had to move for their partner.
Rachel Cason is a missionary ATCK who grew up in West Africa, and now lives in England. Her doctoral research led her to launch Life Story, a therapeutic service that applies her research findings in a form suited to those with highly mobile childhoods.
During her research, Rachel focused mainly on how Third Culture Kids (TCK) relate to other migration groups, surveying 61 TCKs from different organizational backgrounds. According to her, TCKs often represent an “imaginary diaspora,” which has led her to explore the concept of where exactly the “imagined homeland” of TCKs may be found.
Rachel has discovered the rates for TCKs returning abroad from their ‘home’ countries fall between 50-90%, with strong links to cosmopolitanism, and consequently, feelings of rootlessness. There is also a degree of vagrancy in confusing and confounding more settled populations since TCKs who choose to return abroad make a choice of perpetual mobility. Finally, she indicates how her findings raise further pertinent questions regarding gender in the expat community, as well as the virtual communities that arise through highly mobile lifestyles.
The forum ended with researchers discussing different psychological patterns and behaviors that affect expatriate lifestyles. These include the cognitive curve, the behavioral curve, and the affectionate curve. Places like the Expat Archive Centre at The Hague, and expat blogs online were also recommended as valuable venues to conduct research and meet like-minded individuals.
Ann Baker Cottrell, the founder of the TCK Research Network, and one of the leading researchers on Third Culture Kids, ended the forum by highlighting further areas of research and the interesting questions they raised for the whole host of organizations and individuals attending FIGT. Often, she underlines, going back to one’s ‘home’ country is what raises issues for Third Culture Kids, whereas there is no reason to believe the host country has always been perfect and without flaws. What, then, does this tell us about the psychological patterns, cultural affiliations, and attachment behaviors of TCKs?
Expat Communication www.expatcommunication.com
Journal of Cross-Cultural Family Studies www.ojs.acu.edu/ojs/index.php/jccfs/announcement/view/2
Worldwide Families www.worldwidefamilies.org
Worldwide Writings www.worldwidewritings.com
Life Story: Moving Towards a Settled Self www.explorelifestory.com
Roaming the World www.roamingtheworld.com
International Therapist Directory www.internationaltherapistdirectory.com
Expat Archive Centre www.xpatarchive.com
I Love You, But I Want to Leave, Anna Maria Moore, www.denizenmag.com/2011/05/i-love-you-but-i-want-to-leave/
Chéri(e), On s'Expatrie! Guide de Survie à l'Usage des Couples Aventuriers, Alix Carnot, Groupe Eyrolles, 2016
Belonging Everywhere and Nowhere: Insights into Counselling the Globally Mobile, Lois J. Bushong, Mango Tree Intercultural Services, 2013
Writing Out of Limbo: International Childhoods, Global Nomads and Third Culture Kids, Edited by Gene H. Bell-Villada and Nina Sichel with Faith Eidse and Elaine Neil Orr, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011
Meghali Pandey is an adult third culture kid (ATCK) who works in youth development and cultural diplomacy. She has written for Youth to End Sexual Violence, Onpartu, and Use Your Difference magazine. She has worked with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (UK) on youth engagement with foreign policy, in international cultural exchange with the Cabinet Office of Japan, and on developing cross-cultural youth engagement during disaster and conflict. She is currently developing her writing as a means to explore identity and belonging as an ATCK.