Published August 23, 2021 | Version v1
Journal article Open

Exploring the factors influencing the self-initiated expatriates' motivation for work

  • 1. University of Tartu



Personnel motivation is a collection of incentives that influence an employee's work activity. In fact, this is a collection of activities taken by the management with the goal of increasing the working capacity of employees, as well as strategies for attracting and retaining competent and skilled experts. Self-initiated expatriates are included in this category of potential staff. This article discusses the factors that influence self-initiated expatriates’ motivation for work. The discussion is based on materials and fieldwork experiences collected in Estonia during my master's thesis. In-depth interviews were used to collect data. Narrative analysis methods were used to build the analytical framework. The fieldwork experience demonstrated how important it is to consider both financial and non-financial factors while working in foreign companies.

Keywords: Personnel Motivation, Self-initiated Expatriate, Estonia, Narrative Analysis, Bangladesh

Cite this item

Rita, A. S. (2021). Exploring the factors influencing the self-initiated expatriates’ motivation for work. Scholars Journal of Research in Social Science (SJRSS), 01(01), 05-09. doi:10.5281/zenodo.5238087



Employee motivation is critical to a business's success; and it is the foundation upon which the development of the business is based (Jain, Gupta, & Bindal, 2019). The term personnel motivation refers to an employee's attitude toward their work. Individuals are engaged and committed to their jobs because of their enthusiasm and energy (Khan, 2010). This is what propels, pushes, and inspires people to accomplish their objectives and simply show up for work each day. Employees that are motivated are more dedicated, work harder, and therefore create more. It goes without saying that no organization, big or small, can succeed in the long term without motivated workers who believe in the goal and understand how to accomplish it. Without motivated workers, a firm risks substantial losses since an unhappy employee is unable to perform efficiently, will not aspire to do better, and will not work hard to achieve either the company's or his or her own goals (Khan, 2010). On the contrary, motivated employees contribute to the organization performance (Lee & Raschke, 2016). Additionally, motivated workers contribute to the overall success of the company. There are many reasons why workers and team members may lack the motivation required to do the given task. They may feel unappreciated, dissatisfied with their duties, or dissatisfied with the advantages and flexibility given to them (Lee & Raschke, 2016). Employers may use all the sophisticated management tools and processes they want when it comes to expanding their company, but if their workers aren't driven to perform excellent job, employers will struggle. This is true for both internal and overseas workers (Inkson, Arthur, Pringle, & Barry, 1997). This paper focuses on self-initiated expatriates, a subcategory of migrants who obtain work and move independently to locations other than their home countries. This is critical to understand since considerable emphasis has been given to local workers but less to self-initiated expats (Cerdin & Selmer, 2014).


I did fieldwork in Tartu and Tallinn from March to April 2021 for my master's thesis, collecting narratives from Bangladeshi self-initiated expatriates working in Estonian companies. I restricted my discussion in this article to the factors affecting these self-initiated expatriates from an organizational viewpoint, as shown by my collected data. There were a total of eight participants, three of whom were chefs, two of whom were administrative officers, and three of whom were IT experts. Throughout the interviews, I inquired about their work-life experiences, and each session lasted more than one hour. All of these expatriates came or relocated to Estonia during the last three years.


3.1 Personnel Motivation

Personnel motivation is a method used to persuade workers to act in order to achieve the organization's goals (Jain, Gupta, & Bindal, 2019). It acts as a key and pushes them ahead. This kind of motivation is described as the force that influences many aspects of work life and is responsible for the execution of certain organizational tasks. Employees are developed in such a way that they need motivation at all times on the job, even while interacting with coworkers. Employees want to understand why they do what they do and how much earnings they will make as a consequence. Employees seem to be rewarded for their efforts and dedication. Employers, on the other hand, how can they encourage employees to accomplish more and do it better? It follows a simple logic, demonstrating and explaining that workers will get a reward for their efforts and accomplishments. To a certain degree, and for certain types of individuals, this logic helps business owners. Employers may use it to encourage employees to perform better on their assigned duties, but each management expects his employees to perform at a high level of quality. Despite this, business owners and managers are increasingly faced with the issue of employee motivation (Kuranchie-Mensah & Amponsah-Tawiah, 2016).

3.2 Classical Theory of Motivation

Maslow highlighted in his theory that individuals are motivated by need and categorized the requirements into a five-tiered pyramid based on their significance and priority (Lee & Raschke, 2016). He said that once a need is met, it no longer serves as a driving force. This is followed by the subsequent set of requirements in a hierarchical sequence. He classified requirements into five categories: physiological well-being, physical security, social belonging, self-esteem, and self-realization. Physiological requirements include those for food, drink, warmth, and sleep. These are human security requirements that include comfort, security, and stability. Upward progress is followed by social demands, such as a need for love or belonging. This covers friendships and interpersonal interactions. Self-esteem requirements include those for a favorable self-image, prestige, and position. Finally, at the apex of the pyramid are people's self-realization demands. It satisfies human wants and satisfies a person's yearning for what he or she is capable of becoming. This sensation is attained via development, promotion, and innovation. However, how can human resource professionals use this to recruit and retain talented employees? How can this idea of motivation be used to management? Employers provide regular pay, safe working conditions, lunch breaks, and coffee machines for employees with physiological requirements (Taormina & Gao, 2013). Employers provide retirement plans, sick leave, health and wellness programs, insurance plans, and job security in order to meet safety standards, while employers guarantee collaboration, group projects, and social events to foster communication between workers (Taormina & Gao, 2013). Employers, too, utilize feedback and assessment systems to ensure that employees' self-esteem requirements are recognized and valued by coworkers. Employers also meet self-actualization requirements by offering demanding employment, promotions, career development training programs, and ongoing education. While Maslow's theory was developed in the context of American culture, it may be applied to any society. The questions I posed to self-initiated expatriates during my interviews were drawn from this theory's perspectives. The next part discusses a condensed version of my analysis.


4.1 Factors contribute to the development of a motivated workforce

In certain aspects, employee motivation affects employee engagement. Employees that are engaged have a strong emotional attachment to their company. This condition has a propensity to influence his perception of the organization. And this mindset has an effect on workers' attitudes about work. Motivation is the outcome of an interaction between conscious and unconscious factors. Employee motivation is influenced by a variety of factors. Reward, trust, recognition, and satisfaction are just a few. Self-initiated expatriates, on the other hand, may be driven by substantial rewards upon completion of their job. That reward must also contain a component that assesses well-being. As a result, these individuals are motivated to work more deliberately and efficiently in order to achieve better results in both their host and home countries. The importance of senior colleagues and leaders, on the other hand, cannot be underestimated. Leaders that value and respect freshly hired foreign workers on an equal level with older employees earn their followers' devotion. Satisfaction is probably likely the most effective motivation, as shown by the research. This also holds true for self-initiated expats, for whom motivation is ultimately fueled by a desire to make a living doing something that brings them tremendous happiness and pride. Consider (see Table 1) the factors that motivate self-initiated expatriates from Bangladesh to work better in Estonia. To begin, there is the issue of remuneration. Several of my respondents are particular kinds of people who have left their home country in pursuit of higher-paying jobs than those available in their home country. These employees choose unique pay arrangements; money is much more important to them than recognition, gratitude, or inclusion on the honor roll by the host country. With this in mind, one might argue that it is better for employees motivated by this kind of job to have a clear scale and reward system that is also focused on characteristics specific to this person. According to fieldwork research, these employees are motivated by the financial rewards associated with their employment. The second component is acknowledgment of professionalism. This is a major source of workplace motivation. These foreign employees are very motivated to succeed if professional growth opportunities exist. Almost all of my respondents expressed a desire to continue their professional development in order to eventually become experts in their areas. Professionals are critical assets to any company and, as such, need a customized strategy. These people need much more attention than other low-skilled workers, but their expectations are also higher. As a result, people choose companies that provide opportunities for professional development in exchange for their services. Thirdly, company loyalty must be maintained. Each organization has patriots who live and die by the success of the group's commo n mission. They are very committed to the company and see themselves as essential to it. According to my respondents, it is important for them to be an integral and needed component of the overall system referred to as “our company”.

Table 1: Factors affecting the self-initiated expatriates’ motivation for work


Fundamentally, motivation is constrained by an individual's intuition. It's more intimate than it is influential. It is a fact that no one can inspire anybody unless and until they themselves want to be motivated; inspiration must come from inside. However, obligation drives workers to work in a business. The degree to which an individual is motivated is decided in this case by influencing circumstances rather than by duty. From an organizational perspective, the various issues may serve as focal points for employees in order to motivate them to complete the task, such as providing clear leadership, which entails being passionate about the job that the leader and its team perform, as well as clearly communicating what the leader expects of others and what the leader wishes to accomplish. Similarly, interacting with and giving feedback to employees about their work and growth on a regular basis improves employee productivity. Additionally, enabling coworkers to profit from their mistakes motivates employees. Employee motivation is also affected by empowerment of workers via delegation and trust. When employees have many opportunities to demonstrate their skills, their intrinsic actualization rises. Employees' motivation, on the other hand, is affected by their level of job discontent. There are many factors that lead to dissatisfaction, including a hostile work atmosphere, a lack of communication within the team, and so on. In general, managerial settings allow for the employment of a broad variety of motivational techniques. To inspire self-initiated expatriates successfully, the employer, in my view, must have a comprehensive knowledge of the many types of expectations and their relationships. Additionally, it is critical to recognize the individual variations in requirements. Unfortunately, regardless of how much companies want it, there are no universally effective techniques for motivating employees in all situations. In each of these instances, an experienced manager should use a technique that the company has deemed appropriate. On the other hand, managers' methods must be consistent with the organization's human resource management strategy.


Cerdin, L., & Selmer, J. (2014). Who is a self-initiated expatriate? Towards conceptuaclarity of a common notion. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 25(9), 1281–1301.

Inkson, K., Arthur, M., Pringle, J., & Barry, S. (1997). Expatriate assignment versus overseas experience: Contrasting models of international human resource development. Journal of World Business, 351–368.

Jain, A., Gupta, B., & Bindal, M. (2019). A Study of Employee Motivation in Organization. International Journal of Engineering and Management Research, 9(6), 65-68.

Khan, K. U. (2010). The Relationship between Rewards and Employee Motivation in. Research Journal of International Studies, 14, 37-52.

Kuranchie-Mensah, E. B., & Amponsah-Tawiah, K. (2016). Employee motivation and work performance: A comparative study of mining companies in Ghana. Journal of Industrial Engineering and Management (JIEM), 9(2), 255-309.

Lee, M. T., & Raschke, R. L. (2016). Understanding employee motivation and organizational performance: Arguments for a set-theoretic approach. Journal of Innovation & Knowledge, 1(3), 162-169.

Taormina, R. J., & Gao, J. H. (2013). Maslow and the Motivation Hierarchy: Measuring Satisfaction of the Needs. The American Journal of Psychology, 126(2), 155-77.


Publishers Note

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license ( with the journal retaining first publication rights. Publisher stays neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliation.


SJRSS V1.N1.PP05-09.pdf

Files (370.8 kB)

Name Size Download all
370.8 kB Preview Download

Additional details

Related works

2733-3698 (ISSN)
Is cited by (URL)