Citation Faeth PC & Kittler M (2017) How do you fear? Examining expatriates' perception of danger and its consequences, Journal of Global Mobility, 5 (4), pp. 391-417.
The purpose of this paper is to investigate the differing perceptions of fear of expatriates operating in terror-exposed Nairobi and the high-crime environment of Johannesburg and its impact on stress and well-being. It illustrates how expatriates cope with the challenges associated with these two regions.
Following an interpretative and inductive research approach, qualitative content analyses were conducted using evidence from in-depth interviews with 12 expatriates in senior management or officer positions within a large global organisation, with respondents based in South Africa and Kenya.
Data suggest that expatriates in the more terrorism-exposed context perceive fear less strongly than expatriates in environments categorised by high degrees of conventional crime. Fear seems to relate to physical well-being via restricted freedom of movement, but there is little evidence that fear affects mental well-being. The study finds that respondents in terror-exposed Nairobi tend to engage more in avoidance-oriented coping strategies, whereas their counterparts in the high-crime environment of Johannesburg predominantly rely on problem-focused coping.
The qualitative design allows practitioners to better understand expatriates’ perceptions of fear, its consequences for stress, and well-being and potential coping strategies expatriates employ. It discusses a set of practical recommendations focussing on the deployment of expatriates assigned to dangerous locations.
This study develops a distinction between terror and conventional crime and contributes with practical insights for assignments into dangerous work environments. The geographic lens of the study provides an in-depth look at expatriation challenges in an arguably neglected regional context.