Purpose: This paper aims to offer a critical review of how self-initiated expatriation (SIE) is theorized compared to migration in the management literature and to indicate venues for future research on SIE. Design/methodology/approach: A systematic review has been conducted using the ISI Web of Knowledge database as well as ABI/INFORM in order to include key journals in the management field. Findings: Despite the importance of present theorizations on SIE, the authors show that the literature presents a narrow focus on the most privileged of self-initiated expatriates and presents some important knowledge gaps. In order to fill these gaps, the authors propose a research map for future research on SIE. This map includes four key dimensions. These are: diversity-informed research on SIE; context specific and multilevel understanding of SIE; reflexive approaches to SIE; triangulated methods to studying SIE. Research limitations/implications: By proposing a research map with theoretical and methodological implications, this paper increases our understanding of SIE. It offers a guide for future research on SIEs. Practical implications: Research on self-initiated expatriation needs to be more inclusive and critical in terms of studying the diverse human resources in our contemporary societies. Originality/value: The paper indicates how research on self-initiated expatriation can become more developed in terms of its theorizations. Furthermore, it proposes a research map for future studies on SIE that is reflexive, relational, diversity-informed, and methodologically-triangulated. Â© Emerald Group Publishing Limited.