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Popping the 'bubble' metaphor: separation and integration of expatriate communities

Miao, C. ORCID:, Gaggiotti, H. and Brewster, C. ORCID: (2023) Popping the 'bubble' metaphor: separation and integration of expatriate communities. Journal of Global Mobility, 11 (1). pp. 110-124. ISSN 2049-8799

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1108/JGM-05-2022-0016


The expatriate bubble is a common metaphor in international human resource management (Fechter, 2007; Lundström, 2021; Shimoda, 2011) and beyond (GOV.UK., 2022; Jaakson, 2004; Taube, Jakobsson, Midlöv and Kristensson, 2016). We ask: why does “bubble” appear to be such a seductive and unquestioned metaphor to refer to some manifestations of the social? What do we mean when using the “bubble” analogy as a way of socialising when living and working abroad? And overall, how useful is the metaphorical uses of the notion of “bubbles” to refer to how some foreigners live and work in local communities? It is a well-used metaphor and one that creates an immediate understanding of a membrane (albeit a flexible and transparent membrane) between expatriates and locals, so we do not suggest abandoning it. Instead, we argue that the metaphor conceals as much as it reveals and should in future be used more carefully, in a more nuanced manner: we outline some of the concerns and propose a way forward.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Henley Business School > International Business and Strategy
ID Code:108025


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