Bridging distance through zooming? The use of virtual assignments in multinational corporations
Article publication date: 4 April 2023
Issue publication date: 26 May 2023
Virtual assignments, in which the virtual assignees do not relocate to host locations, but work remotely, have several advantages compared to traditional international assignments, such as enhanced flexibility, cost-efficiency and the possibility that virtual assignees can stay in their home communities. However, it is open to question whether virtual assignments are as effective as traditional assignments. The purpose of this study is to compare the ability of virtual vs traditional assignees to bridge the distance between headquarters and subsidiaries.
Based on a survey among virtual and traditional assignees, the ability to bridge multiple facets of distance is examined.
The results indicate that virtual and traditional assignees have similar abilities to bridge geographic, cultural, functional and language distance. However, traditional assignees have a higher ability to bridge emotional and temporal distance.
By applying the distance framework to virtual assignments, a new theoretical perspective is introduced and the importance of clearly disentangling distance-bridging abilities is highlighted. One practical recommendation is that, due to lower costs and reduced coordination efforts required for virtual assignments, this assignment type is preferable if the cultural, language, functional and geographic distances are the most problematic ones during international assignments.
Wicht, L. and Holtbrügge, D. (2023), "Bridging distance through zooming? The use of virtual assignments in multinational corporations", Journal of Global Mobility, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 179-199. https://doi.org/10.1108/JGM-10-2022-0056
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