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Expatriate leadership in the era of digitalization (Advert Reference: SF19/BL/LHRM/BADER)

Faculty of Business and Law

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Dr K Bader Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Digitalization is one of today’s ‘Grand Challenges’. It broadly refers to the integration of technology into all areas of our lives. For instance, the increased use of smartphones has tremendously changed the way and speed of communication, which massively affects how we work today. Digitalization, however, has not received much attention in expatriation research, which is surprising as due to geographic separation1) communication (e.g., with family, headquarters, subordinates etc.) is often either digital (e.g., e-mail, social media) or transported digitally (e.g., video conferencing). Preliminary research in this area shows that digital communication can increase perceived support and help expatriates in adjusting to the host context.

However, we only know little about the challenges and outcomes of digitalization in terms of expatriates’ work performance, in particular their role as cross-cultural leaders.2) While digitalization is often associated with positive outcomes, it can be ambivalent.3) For instance, much critical information is lost, if a message is transferred into a text and sent as an e-mail. Overtones and emotions are filtered out, because neither the tone nor the facial expression is transferred. Accordingly, cross-cultural challenges can be exacerbated which is detrimental, as expatriates’ rely on the support of the host country workforce.4) Furthermore, work-life conflicts5) can be intensified as living in different time zones increases the need to being available outside normal working hours which can impact on health and eventually on performance.

In order to better understand such consequences, the research project involves a mixed methods approach. First, building on interviews, it will define the challenges of digitalization for expatriate performance and leadership. Second, it will develop a questionnaire and survey expatriate leaders and subordinates to test the proposed effects. Data will be collected from British expatriates working in different countries to take account of different degrees of cultural distance.

This project is supervised by Dr Katharina Bader.

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see:

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. SF19/…) will not be considered.

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.

Funding Notes

Please note this is a self-funded project and does not include tuition fees or stipend.


1) Chathurani, I., Froese, F.J., Bader, A.K., (2019). Relocation with our without you: An attachment theory perspective on expatriate withdrawal. Academy of Management Best Paper Proceedings.

2) Bader, A.K., Froese, F.J, Achteresch, A., Behrens, S. (2017). Expatriates’ influence on the organizational commitment of host country nationals in China. The moderating role of individual values and status characteristics. European Journal of International Management. 11(2), 181-200.

3) Bader, B., Schuster, T., Bader, A.K., Shaffer, M. (2019). The dark side of expatriation: dysfunctional relationships, expatriate crises, prejudice and a VUCA world. Journal of Global Mobility, 7(2): 126-136.

4) Bader, A.K. (2017). The effect of host country nationals´ support on expatriates´ adjustment - A multiple stakeholder approach. In: Bader, B., Schuster, T. and Bader, A. K. (Eds.). Expatriate Management - Transatlantic Dialogues. Palgrave MacMillan.

5) Bader, A.K., Froese, F.J., Kraeh, A. (2018). Clash of cultures? German expatriates’ work-life boundary adjustment in South Korea. European Management Review. 15, 357-374.

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