The shock of coming home : repatriation, re-entry and re-adjustment to New Zealand after sojourning
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Commerce
The aim of this thesis is to provide an in-depth understanding of the repatriation process in the New Zealand context, analysing various internal and external factors that have the potential to influence the re-adjustment process of returning sojourners. Most New Zealanders who sojourn in a different country eventually return to their home country. These people are then faced with a period of re-adjustment to the home country, which can cause unexpected, yet serious distress. The academic literature has offered relatively little insight into individual factors that may contribute to re-entry distress but has instead focused on cultural identity, culture shock, W-Curve or other generalised, conceptual models, which all have the inherent limitation that personal differences and individual internal and external influencing factors remain neglected in understanding the repatrion process. Numerous internal and external facets influencing an individual have been researched and shown to impact the re-entry into one’s home country after sojourning, yet existing research has made little attempt to provide an integrated approach of these facets and existing conceptual re-entry models. This dissertation provides insight into the most dominant challenges that New Zealand repatriates face after living overseas for an extended period of time taking into account individual differences. A qualitative exploratory research design based on phenomenological interviews has been implemented to gather rich, in-depth data. Participants were invited for an interview, which commenced with a self-administered questionnaire and were then encouraged to thoroughly describe their experiences of returning to New Zealand. Participants were recruited via public notices and personal networking. The participant pool of the current study consists of 11 returned New Zealand sojourners, who had been abroad for at least 12 months and returned no longer than 12 months ago. The participant pool included eight females and three males, who all sojourned independently of each other. The findings of this study have implications for understanding the problems sojourners face when returning to New Zealand and potential measures to assist their re-integration to their home country. The current study found that all sojourning participants experienced re-adjustment difficulties to various degrees upon returning to their home country. The differences in experienced repatriation challenges were found to be related to individual internal and external factors, which were found to serve as a valid predictor for potential re-entry distress. This research emphasises the importance of taking an integrated approach, combining the analysis of individual internal and external factors with existing repatriation theories such as the Cultural Identity theory, Culture Shock or Curve Adjustment Models. Additionally, this research proposes that further individual factors such as sojourners ‘reasons to return’ shall be incorporated into repatriation studies as they were found to be a valid predictor for potential repatriation challenges. This research offers a unique, holistic approach to analysing and understanding repatriation challenges of self-initiated sojourners in the context of New Zealand. This study further highlights the New Zealand specific re-entry challenges, which most notably include participants’ struggle with social re-adjustment due to cultural aspects such as the ‘tall poppy syndrome’. Considered together and holistically, these enduring issues of repatriation challenges have implications for the New Zealand government, education providers, employers and society at large.