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Personnel mobility in German non-profit organizations – an institutional perspective

Martina Maletzky (Chair of Intercultural Communication, University of Passau, Passau, Germany)
Sina Grosskopf (Chair of Intercultural Communication, University of Passau, Passau, Germany)

Journal of Global Mobility

ISSN: 2049-8799

Article publication date: 3 November 2020

Issue publication date: 12 November 2020



Drawing on an institutional perspective, the purpose of this paper is to shed light on mobility patterns and assignment situations in 15 German non-profit organizations (NPOs) in the public diplomacy and international aid sectors. Its aim is to explore how differing field logics are related to international staffing practices in the different sectors.


A multiple case study approach was employed, based on 51 expert interviews and corresponding document analysis.


The findings display similarities between NPOs of the same sector but differences between the sectors with regard to numbers of “expensive” expatriates and the assignment situation; this is a result of the intersection of different institutional pressures in the respective fields.

Research limitations/implications

The article is based on a limited number of cases in the German context and does not allow for generalization. The results may be NPO specific; further research is necessary to compare the institutional embeddedness of staffing decisions in MNCs, other NPO sectors and country contexts.

Practical implications

Organizations in both fields find different answers to similar external pressures, which may encourage mutual learning.


This article highlights the neglected research topic of expatriation in non-corporate assignment settings and offers an alternative view on staffing decisions than the previously predominant rational one.



The authors would like to thank the reviewers for their dedicated and constructive reviews of the manuscript.


Maletzky, M. and Grosskopf, S. (2020), "Personnel mobility in German non-profit organizations – an institutional perspective", Journal of Global Mobility, Vol. 8 No. 3/4, pp. 353-380.



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