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The development of HR support for alternative international assignments. From liminal position to institutional support for short-term assignments, international business travel and virtual assignments

Joost Bücker (Institute for Management Research, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands)
Erik Poutsma (Institute for Management Research, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands)
Roel Schouteten (Institute for Management Research, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands)
Carolien Nies (Institute for Management Research, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands)

Journal of Global Mobility

ISSN: 2049-8799

Article publication date: 20 August 2020

Issue publication date: 25 August 2020

2025

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explain how and why HR practitioners perceive the need to develop international HRM practices to support short-term assignments, international business travel and virtual assignments for internationally operating organizations.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors interviewed 29 HR practitioners from multinationals located in the Netherlands.

Findings

Alternative international assignments seem not to belong to the traditional expatriate jobs, nor to regular domestic jobs and show a liminal character. However, over the last few years we have gradually seen a more mature classification of the Short-term Assignment, International Business Traveler and Virtual Assignment categories and more active use of these categories in policymaking by organizations; this reflects a transition of these three categories from a liminal position to a more institutionalized position.

Research limitations/implications

For this research, only international HRM practitioners were interviewed. Future studies should include a broader group of stakeholders.

Practical implications

International HRM departments should take a more proactive role regarding alternative forms of international assignees. Furthermore, HR professionals may develop training and coaching and consider rewards and benefits that could provide allowances for specific working conditions that are part of international work.

Originality/value

This study is among the first to relate the framework of institutional logic and liminality to explain the why of HR support for alternative international assignees.

Keywords

Citation

Bücker, J., Poutsma, E., Schouteten, R. and Nies, C. (2020), "The development of HR support for alternative international assignments. From liminal position to institutional support for short-term assignments, international business travel and virtual assignments", Journal of Global Mobility, Vol. 8 No. 2, pp. 249-270. https://doi.org/10.1108/JGM-02-2020-0011

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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