Journal of Management Development

ISSN: 0262-1711

Article publication date: 1 October 2004



Harris, H. and Dickmann, M. (2004), "Editorial", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 23 No. 9. https://doi.org/10.1108/jmd.2004.02623iaa.001



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Hilary Harris is the visiting fellow of the Centre for Research into the Management of Expatriation (CRÈME) at Cranfield School of Management. Dr Harris has had extensive experience as a HR practitioner and has undertaken consultancy with a broad range of organizations in the public and private sectors. Her specialist areas of interest are International HRM, expatriate management, cross-cultural management and women in management. She teaches, consults and writes extensively in these areas. Hilary was one of the lead researchers on the CIPD flagship research programme looking at the impact of globalisation on the role of the HR professional. E-mail: h.harris@cranfield.ac.uk

Michael Dickmann lectures in the areas of international and strategic HRM as well as in change management. Before rejoining Cranfield, he worked as the Head of Human Resources in a multinational corporation based in Munich, Germany. His PhD and much of his research focus on human resource strategies, structures and processes of multinational organizations including the ways they manage change. Michael has an honours degree in Economics from London University and an MSc in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from LSE. He has cooperated with the CIPD on a number of key projects. Michael has several years of work experience with major consultancies and in industry. He has conducted a variety of consulting and research assignments with cutting edge multinational organizations mostly from the banking, telecommunications, chemical, electrical engineering and electronics industries. He has worked in his native Germany, Australia, the USA, Colombia, Spain and Britain. E-mail: m.dickmann@cranfield.ac.uk

This special edition is the result of a colloquium on global careers held by the Centre for Research into the Management of Expatriation (CRÈME) at Cranfield School of Management. Academics and practitioners came together for two days to share the latest thinking and to design an international research project into this critical aspect of international management.

There was much debate on a definition of “global career”. For the purposes of this special edition, we feel that the definition in Larsen's paper gives a good sense of the scope of this concept. Here, a global career is defined as:

the series of events, experiences and actions embedded in the global interaction between an individual and an organization – a relationship which is characterized by mutual dependency between the two parties.

The papers in this journal present a wide range of new ideas and approaches to global careers from a theoretical, organizational and individual perspective. Two of the papers, Holt Larsen and Mayrhofer et al. provide a multi-theoretical model as a basis for studying the dynamics of global careers. Fenwick and DeCieri's paper examines the impact of new organizational forms, in this case an international inter-organizational network, on the development and nature of global careers. Caligiuri et al. also take an organizational perspective, investigating the impact of national diversity of board members on indicators of global performance. Finally, three papers look at the impact of global careers from the perspective of the individual. Suutari and Taka add an internationalism anchor to Schein's existing career anchors in their insightful study into the career anchors of Finnish managers with international careers. Stahl and Cerdin demonstrate how the advent of the “boundaryless” career has significant implications for both individuals and organizations in terms of motivation to remain at the organization following an international assignment. Harris explores the relatively unresearched topic of work-life balance issues resulting from partner and family considerations and the impact of these on women's adjustment on international assignments.

Outlined below are the details of a proposed international research project into careers in international organizations. CRÈME is currently undertaking pilot interviews in two UK-based multinationals and is actively looking for other international organizations to join in the research project. Please contact Kim Fitzgerald, CRÈME Administrator, at Cranfield School of Management, (E-mail: k.fitzgerald@cranfield.ac.uk; telephone: 01234 751122) if you would like further details about how to be involved.

Dr Hilary Harris and Dr Michael Dickmann

Global careers research project: outline

Research approach

The proposed research would form part of a multi-country, multi-organization investigation by a team of international academics affiliated to CRÈME. It would comprise a multi-focal analysis of the meaning of global careers to individuals and organizations, through an examination of the career pathing behaviours/motivations of managers at senior, middle and lower-level high potential levels within international organizations. We would aim to build-up a detailed empirical analysis of the actual types of global career paths, underlying decision processes and existing senior managers' perceptions of global competencies obtained, and compare that to the career paths in progress with middle managers and those envisaged by younger, high-potential managers. This will give us data on the role of different types of international working in the development of global careers, including the role of self-initiated foreign experience, and the accompanying motivators or inhibitors for individuals. The role of contextual factors both at an individual level and at organizational level will also be included and will enable comparative research findings at a number of different levels.

Research questions

  1. 1.

    What is the nature of career pathing for managers at different levels within international organizations?

  2. 2.

    What are the motivators/inhibitors for global careers?

  3. 3.

    What type of global leadership competencies are obtained from these career experiences?

  4. 4.

    How do the career experiences and perceptions of competencies obtained at the senior management team affect dominant career models within the organization?

  5. 5.

    How do these affect diversity at management level?

  6. 6.

    What career aspects, e.g. social networks; individual values and motivators, are neglected?

Research design

The research project will consist of a multiple country sample (Australasia; Canada; Europe; United States and others). We will employ longitudinal research methodology capturing the status quo at the following points:

  • TO – immediate;

  • T1 – two years; and

  • T2 – four years.

Benefits/outcomes of the researchExpected benefits for participating organizations arising from the research findings include:

For individual organizations

  • Comprehensive overview of the reality of careers as experienced by managers at different levels.

  • Analysis of differences in career experiences and expectations of specific groups of managers (e.g. gender, geographical, functional, hierarchical, age etc.).

  • Record of changes in the nature of career experiences and expectations for different cohorts of managers.

  • Policy recommendations on career management design based on the reality of careers for diverse populations.

  • Clear indicators of motivators/inhibitors for global careers for diverse groups.

Across organizations

  • Comparative data on the nature of global careers for diverse populations.

  • Identification of generic/specific motivators/inhibitors to global careers for specific groups of employees.

  • Recommendations to organizations for contextually sensitive career management practices which foster diversity at all levels.

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