Goodbye Hong Kong
: Teacher Turnover in International Schools in Hong Kong

  • K.M. Wong

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education (EdD)


This study aims at looking into the factors to cause the mobility of international school teachers and the teacher turnover in international schools in Hong Kong from teacher perspectives analyzed based on two theoretical frameworks. One is Push and Pull theory (Lee, 1966, American Federation of Teachers, 2009) and the other is Mobley’s Model of the Causes and Correlates of Turnover (Mobley, 1982). The Push and Pull theory guided the research to explore factors which pushed expatriate teachers to work abroad and pulled them to choose to work in Hong Kong. The other framework, Mobley’s Model of the Causes and Correlates of Turnover (1982), was used to explore the reasons for causing expatriate teachers to determine their departure.

The subject of the present study is expatriate international school teachers in Hong Kong. A mixed method approach was used to collect the data – this was a combination of quantitative data collected by an online survey from 94 participants and further qualitative data collected from 19 follow-up interviews.

The research finds that looking for job opportunities is the main push factor to motivate expatriate teachers to teach overseas. Another unique push factor is “travelling and exploring the world”. This confirms the existence of wanderlust factors. There are two major pull factors to cause expatriate teachers to choose Hong Kong as their destination. One is the organization factor which involves “salary”, “income package” and “professional development” and the other is an individual non-work factor including “desire to work and live in different cultures”. The findings reveal that the majority of teachers were very satisfied with their teaching life in Hong Kong but they still had a high tendency to leave. Among the complex considerations, individual non-work variables like family matters and living conditions are still the most influential to influence their retention decision. Based on the teachers’ sharing, turnover in the international schools is comparatively higher than local schools but the turnover rate among the international schools is quite diverse. Some top international schools are able to retain their staff successfully with benefits and/or development strategies.
Date of Award29 Sept 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bristol
SupervisorLisa Lucas (Supervisor)


  • Teacher Turnover
  • International Schools
  • International Teachers Mobility

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