Retention in Challenging International Construction Assignments : Role of Expatriate Resilience

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Article number04023158
Journal / PublicationJournal of Construction Engineering and Management
Issue number2
Online published30 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024


Using the broaden-and-build theory, this study aimed to analyze the sufficient and necessary conditions that affect retention intention from the perspective of expatriate psychological resilience at an individual level. The study also explored how to enable construction workers to increase their efficiency at facing adversities during assignments and identify the types of construction workers who are best suited for overseas assignments in relation to the positions they hold. We applied multigroup structural equation modeling (SEM) and necessary condition analysis (NCA) to data obtained from 353 migrant construction workers in international construction projects. Among them, 243 participants were project managerial personnel (Group 1) and 110 were general project workers (Group 2). The SEM results showed that cross-cultural adjustment, self-efficacy, active coping style, and social support were significant predictors of expatriate resilience and retention intention via resilience in the two groups. The indirect effect of social support on retention intention through resilience was significantly higher in Group 2 compared with Group 1. The NCA results showed that social support was a sufficient and necessary condition for retention intention in the two groups. According to this finding, support systems are essential for expatriates. Moreover, expatriate resilience, active coping, self-efficacy, and cross-cultural adjustment were necessary for retention intention in the managerial group, whereas no minimum requirements were necessary for the nonmanagerial group. This complementary approach provides a guideline for construction managers and academics to identify essential bottlenecks, set priorities for improving expatriates' resilience, and choose more suitable candidates for working on international projects according to the roles. Organizational managers can use expatriate psychological resilience as one criterion for selecting migrant project managers. The results also provide clear priorities and strategies for organizational managers to improve expatriate workers' retention intentions, particularly because social support is extremely important for expatriates in nonmanagerial groups. © 2023 American Society of Civil Engineers.

Research Area(s)

  • Migrant construction workers, Multigroup analysis, Necessary condition analysis (NCA), Psychological resilience, Retention intention