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Article
Publication date: 20 August 2020

Joost Bücker, Erik Poutsma, Roel Schouteten and Carolien Nies

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…

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.

Details

Journal of Global Mobility: The Home of Expatriate Management Research, vol. 8 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-8799

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Article
Publication date: 14 December 2015

Kerri Anne Crowne, Richard J. Goeke and Mary Shoemaker

Adjustment to the new locale is one of the primary factors that influence performance on an international assignment. The purpose of this paper is to propose a model that…

Abstract

Purpose

Adjustment to the new locale is one of the primary factors that influence performance on an international assignment. The purpose of this paper is to propose a model that depicts how online social networks may contribute to international assignees’ adjustment via their influence on well-being and knowledge transfer.

Design/methodology/approach

The present research uses network theory and readily available technology to develop a model of how online supportive social networks and informational social networks may increase the international assignee’s well-being and knowledge transfer (with prior/next assignees and with the organization). These increases will subsequently have a positive impact on the assignee’s adjustment and ultimately his/her job performance.

Findings

Since this paper is conceptual rather than empirical, there are no findings; however, it is argued that online social networks may have a positive impact on an expatriate’s well-being, knowledge transfer, adjustment, and job performance.

Research limitations/implications

This paper is a conceptual piece, so data will need to be collected to test the model developed here. Furthermore, other factors may influence international assignee adjustment, such as spouse and/or family adjustment.

Practical implications

Suggestions are provided regarding how organizations can utilize in-house or external online social networks to assist international assignees.

Originality/value

Despite the ubiquity of online social networks, there is a paucity of research examining the potential impact of online social networks on international assignees.

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Article
Publication date: 14 December 2015

Robert Lawrence Quigley, Lisbeth Claus and Ashley Nixon

The increase in prevalence of behavioral health issues among college and university students is burdening the scholastic sector both domestically and internationally. More…

Abstract

Purpose

The increase in prevalence of behavioral health issues among college and university students is burdening the scholastic sector both domestically and internationally. More American students participate in study abroad programs than ever before. These provide educational institutions with additional duty of care challenges and responsibilities especially when it comes to their health status while studying or working abroad. The requests for assistance to an assistance service provider of students from US universities studying abroad were compared to international assignees from US employers in terms of closing diagnoses and case outcome types. The purpose of this paper is to indicate that there are differences in diagnoses and case outcomes between students studying abroad and employees working abroad. Students are more likely than international assignees to be diagnosed with behavioral health issues, to be referred to a health provider (rather than being treated through in-patient care) and to be evacuated or repatriated. It is recommended that US universities change their duty of care practice from the “inform and prepare” to a higher level benchmark, commonly practiced in the US corporate sector, of “assess, assist and protect.”

Design/methodology/approach

US employers and universities often contract with a service provider for international travel assistance for their traveling employees/students. The sample consisted of case records of a large assistance service provider based on request for assistance (RFAs) by international assignees and students from its different US client organizations (US employers and universities) over a 24-month period (January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2011), with all client travel originating in the USA and traveling abroad. A two-year framework was used to include a larger sample of short- and long-term international assignees. The individual requesting assistance (student or international assignee) was the primary unit of analysis. The multiple case records can be viewed as a “case study” of an assistance provider (Yin, 2014). According to Yin’s case study design typology, this research used a single case (embedded) design. It is a single case study of client records from a global assistance provider of medical and security services for international travelers. The case study was embedded because it involved more than one unit of analysis. The case study included 17,071 records from two different subunits: 831 students studying abroad from 82 US universities and 16,240 US international assignees working for 889 US employers requesting assistance for health-related issues from the global service provider. The US client organizations included universities with study abroad programs and employers of different sizes and industries who have global mobility programs.

Findings

The hypotheses related to different diagnoses and outcomes based on RFAs while working or studying internationally were confirmed in spite of the fact the age and gender (important antecedents of morbidity) were controlled. Compared to international assignees, students are more likely to be diagnosed with behavioral health issues, more likely to be referred to a health provider (rather than being treated) and more likely to be evacuated/repatriated. This not only shows the importance of behavioral issues among students while studying abroad but also indicates that the corporate organizational support structures for international assignees are different than those universities provide to students.

Research limitations/implications

This study assessed how RFAs by students studying abroad differed from international assignees working in corporate organizations. With this type of case study, the mode of generalization is “analytic” rather than “statistical.” In analytic generalization, the empirical results of the case study are compared to a previously developed theory (Yin, 2004, p. 38). As a result, the authors are striving to generalize the particular empirical results of students and international assignees to the broader institutional theory.

Practical implications

The research has implications for further research. First, these results can be replicated with other samples of students studying abroad. If replications result in similar findings, indicating that students have increased risk of being diagnosed with behavioral health conditions, this finding can be probed for a better understanding of both process and outcome. For instance, future research can delineate the specific behavioral health diagnoses the students are receiving, which can have important implications for behavioral health care providers, educational duty of care considerations, as well as direct future research in this area. An additional area of critical importance for future research will be elucidating the students’ systemic experience of increased stress associated by studying abroad, the subsequent psychological and physiological responses, as well as how students are impacted by this stress. There are also some systemic stresses that are unique to the study/work abroad context. Many of the administrative requirements (such as required paperwork for travel, visas, travel scholarships, funding, vaccinations, health care, etc.) are taken care of for international assignees by their employers through the global mobility division. They are not necessarily done by universities for their students. Students are largely responsible for these themselves although with some guidance through the study abroad program staff. Researchers can also examine how cultural adjustment models apply to students studying abroad. For instance, how might changes in anticipatory adjustment impact student development of behavioral health conditions, including both individual factors such as pre-travel training, as well as organizational factors such as selection systems designed to identify those that could need additional behavioral health support while they are abroad. Likewise, in-country adjustment can also be evaluated in future research to identify individual, organizational and cultural aspects that could be associated with increased behavioral health diagnoses in students. Such research can shed more light on this understudied population, illuminating the steps that university can take, with regard to duty of care concerns, to ensure students have safe and beneficial experiences abroad.

Social implications

The population of corporate international assignees is emotionally more mature and more experienced in world travel and therefore more likely to be adaptable to the challenges of traveling and living abroad than the study abroad population of students. As more students enroll in study abroad programs, the absence of an infrastructure to support behavioral health issues at the time of enrollment, while on-site and upon return will only result in more exposure for both students and educational institutions. E-learning tools, and even anonymous student self-exams can assist in determining fitness for study abroad. Simultaneously, colleges and universities must educate their local and distant faculty/team leaders, host institutions as well as other students to recognize and react appropriately to a behavioral health crisis. Adherence to such a strategy will certainly help to mitigate the risk of a failed study abroad experience. Although this study is limited to US students traveling overseas, behavioral health is an issue with students globally. American institutions hosting foreign students should, therefore, re-evaluate their existing domestic resources to accommodate the psychological needs of their visiting international students. It is the authors recommendation that, prior to travel, students should develop greater self-awareness, with or without the assistance of a professional. Implementing these recommendations will move university duty of care practice from the “inform and prepare” to a higher level benchmark, commonly practiced in the corporate sector, of “assess, assist and protect.”

Originality/value

With regard to case outcomes, students had lower odds of experiencing severe outcomes, such as in- and out-patient care, than international assignees. Similarly, students had lower odds of being evacuated or repatriated than international assignees.

Details

Journal of Global Mobility, vol. 3 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-8799

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Article
Publication date: 1 October 1997

Gary Fontaine

First makes the case that effective preparation, support, and training for international assignments to, from or within Asia and the Pacific need to be based on sound…

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Abstract

First makes the case that effective preparation, support, and training for international assignments to, from or within Asia and the Pacific need to be based on sound models of the skills required to meet the challenges of those assignments for the assignees themselves, their families accompanying them, those managing them, and the hosts with whom they are working. Then presents the characteristic ecologies encountered on these international assignments; identifies coping with ecoshock, developing strategies to effectively complete essential tasks in a new ecology, and maintaining motivation as the three key challenges faced in those ecologies; and describes the skills useful in dealing effectively with these challenges. Finally, presents the implications for intervention programmes to assist assignees in acquiring these skills and an illustrative training programme outline.

Details

Management Decision, vol. 35 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0025-1747

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Article
Publication date: 10 November 2020

Susan Shortland

The purpose of this exploratory research is to understand how women have accessed male-dominated oil and gas international rotational assignments and why they believe…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this exploratory research is to understand how women have accessed male-dominated oil and gas international rotational assignments and why they believe these roles to be professionally worthwhile.

Design/methodology/approach

This cross-sectional qualitative study is based on semi-structured interviews and correspondence with female international rotational assignees, and interviews with HR professionals involved in selection and deployment for such assignments.

Findings

HR personnel stereotype women as unsuitable for international rotational assignments. Women must be exceptionally determined and/or circumvent selection processes to access such roles. Women value the professional and personal development gained from international rotational assignments which helps them widen their occupational skills capacity.

Research limitations/implications

To extend these findings, larger samples of female international rotational assignees and research in a wider range of industries are required. Longitudinal studies could further our understanding of women’s career progression building upon their international rotational assignment experience.

Practical implications

To reduce stereotyping of women's perceived unsuitability, greater understanding of international rotational assignment roles/environments is required by managers involved in selection. Transparent selection processes are required to support diversity. Greater interest in the work performed by international rotational assignees will raise their profile and assist with wider labour market opportunities.

Social implications

Organisational representatives unintentionally reinforce occupational segregation by stereotyping women as less appropriate workers than men for international rotational assignments.

Originality/value

This research hears women's voices as they begin to make inroads into the masculine world of oil and gas international rotational assignments. Research propositions and recommendations for practice are suggested to assist in breaking down male monopoly in this context.

Details

Career Development International, vol. 25 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1362-0436

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Article
Publication date: 12 September 2016

Reimara Valk and Sandra Hannon

The purpose of this paper is to explore engagement of flexpatriates on rotational and regular field assignments in the energy industry, theoretically grounded in the “Four…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore engagement of flexpatriates on rotational and regular field assignments in the energy industry, theoretically grounded in the “Four Fundamental Pillars of Engagement”.

Design/methodology/approach

In an exploratory case study within a global organisation in the energy industry, in a post-merger/acquisition integration stage, the authors interviewed 24 rotational and regular field assignees of seven different nationalities, residing at nine different global locations.

Findings

The results of the case study show that the following newly identified drivers within the “Four Fundamental Pillars of Engagement” are crucial for engagement of flexpatriate rotational and regular field assignees in the energy industry: information, communication and technology; training, learning and growth; support from colleagues and line managers (“capacity to engage”); job ownership/control; respect, recognition and appreciation (“reason to engage”); freedom to be creative and innovative; pride and promises; client satisfaction (“freedom to engage”); alignment between the organisation and the individual (“alignment to engage”), especially in a post-merger and acquisition (M&A) organisational context during a downturn in the oil and gas industry.

Research limitations/implications

The case study focused on rotational assignees from one particular organisation in the energy industry, which restricts the generalisability of the findings on engagement of rotational assignees to other organisations, industries and geographies.

Practical implications

Organisations in the energy industry that actively promote engagement of rotational assignees, especially during the post-M&A integration stage and economic turmoil, will strengthen their sustainable global competitive advantage.

Originality/value

The contribution of this paper is that it presents a refinement and expansion of the drivers of engagement within the “Four Fundamental Pillars of Engagement”, conceptualised in an international post-M&A organisational context during a downturn in the oil and gas industry.

Details

Journal of Global Mobility: The Home of Expatriate Management Research, vol. 4 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-8799

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Article
Publication date: 11 October 2018

Kieran M. Conroy, Anthony McDonnell and Katrin Holzleitner

The purpose of this paper is to explore the specific forms of training and support that individuals on short-term international assignments (SIAs) receive. It further…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the specific forms of training and support that individuals on short-term international assignments (SIAs) receive. It further explores issues such as short notice prior to departure and how this impacts the type of training and support compared to what the extant literature on expatriates intimates. Scholars and practitioners both agree that the increasing deployment of individuals on SIAs presents significant challenges that have not yet been met with the development of appropriate organisational policies and practices.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing on in-depth exploratory qualitative interviews with a sample of German assignees, the paper is abductive in nature with semi-structured interviews analysed through thematic based analysis. The data analysis identifies the need for more tailored training and support through formal and informal mechanisms, developed in pre-departure and post-arrival contexts.

Findings

The paper makes key contributions through providing much needed empirical evidence on the training and support short-term assignees receive and in so doing we identify specific forms of training and supports deemed relevant from the perspective of individuals on SIAs. Given the inherent time constraints for SIAs, the significance of informal support, in both pre-departure and post-arrival contexts is especially emphasised.

Originality/value

The paper is one of the first empirical pieces of work to explicitly consider the specific forms of training and support that SIAs consider important. The authors answer calls for greater consideration into the significance of developing a more tailored and strategic approach to managing SIAs as a specific form of an international assignee.

Details

Journal of Global Mobility: The Home of Expatriate Management Research, vol. 6 no. 3/4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-8799

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Article
Publication date: 15 November 2011

Rachel Gabel‐Shemueli and Simon Dolan

The purpose of this paper is to propose emotional intelligence (hereinafter EI) competences as a key predictor for overall cross‐cultural adjustment of managers and…

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2214

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to propose emotional intelligence (hereinafter EI) competences as a key predictor for overall cross‐cultural adjustment of managers and professionals in its three respective dimensions: work, interaction and non‐work adjustment. This explorative study contributes to the assessment and selection of potential professionals for international assignments by identifying the combination of soft competences and selected pre‐existing personal factors that can predict cross cultural adjustment beyond traditional technical or functional skills.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were gathered via a pre‐validated multi‐item questionnaire. The latter was administered in two languages: English and Spanish and two steps of multiple hierarchical regression analyses were conducted, in addition to the main variables (i.e. main effect). A total of 16 individual, organisational and context‐related control variables were used in this study.

Findings

The main findings indicate that EI is related to overall cross‐cultural adjustment measured in its three dimensions. However, EI was most strongly related to interaction adjustment following overall cross‐cultural adjustment. Furthermore, by isolating some important variables, the predictive role of EI on cross‐cultural adjustment above and beyond these control variables was shown.

Research limitations/implications

EI is still a new and debatable construct. Researchers are continuing to explore this construct from different angles. Moreover, there is keen interest in ascertaining whether the findings reported herein are sustainable. With the exception of one external source (culture distance), all data for the current study were collected via a self‐reported questionnaire and although additional effort was made to reduce some potential method‐variance problems, they cannot be entirely ruled out. The authors encourage future studies to improve the design by gathering data from multiple sources and from diverse settings.

Practical implications

The paper reviews the possible advantages of including EI assessment in international postings selection process.

Originality/value

This paper fills the need to study the predictive role of key soft skills in understanding cross‐cultural adjustment of international assignees. This study analysed the role of emotions in cross‐cultural settings by specifically examining a set of competences stemming from the EI construct. Although EI has been extensively used in the organisational behaviour literature, to the best of the authors' knowledge, there is still a need to empirically explore the relationships of this construct within the context of overseas postings and cross cultural encounters.

Details

Management Research: Journal of the Iberoamerican Academy of Management, vol. 9 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1536-5433

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Article
Publication date: 19 July 2013

Reimara Valk, Mandy van der Velde, Marloes van Engen and Betina Szkudlarek

The purpose of this paper is to explore the influence of cultural identity change, organizational and social support and cultural distance on repatriation experiences of…

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1909

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the influence of cultural identity change, organizational and social support and cultural distance on repatriation experiences of Indian international assignees.

Design/methodology/approach

Semi‐structured interviews were held with 19 Indians on international assignment in The Netherlands and 11 Indians repatriated from The Netherlands. Respondents were asked to reflect on their cultural identity changes and the effects of social support, organizational support and cultural distance between the host and the home country on their international assignment and repatriation experiences. Iterative thematic analyses revealed five central themes: cultural identity independence; knowledge utilization and organizational learning; social network support; global career prospects in the Indian economy; work‐life balance.

Findings

Cultural identity changes ranged from low adaptation to Dutch culture and happiness on return to India through to high cultural flexibility and readiness to move to another sojourn. The majority of respondents reported great appreciation by their supervisors and co‐workers and utilization of their knowledge gained in The Netherlands. These factors, in addition to good career prospects and social support from their informal networks, contributed positively to their repatriation experiences.

Originality/value

This study challenges the frequently reported negative repatriation experiences of sojourners from the West.

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Article
Publication date: 2 July 2020

Susan Shortland and Stephen J. Perkins

The purpose of this paper is to examine how female expatriates interpret the effectiveness of practical implementation of equality/diversity policies, trusting this to…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine how female expatriates interpret the effectiveness of practical implementation of equality/diversity policies, trusting this to support their expatriate careers.

Design/methodology/approach

A cross-sectional, qualitative research approach draws upon in-depth semi-structured interviews with 14 human resources equality/diversity policy implementers and 26 current female expatriates in two oil and gas firms.

Findings

Early-career stage female expatriates believe that equality/diversity policy implementation will support their international careers. At the most senior levels, women expatriates highlight unequal treatment breaching their trust in delivery of equality/diversity principles to support their expatriate career progression.

Research limitations/implications

Longitudinal research is needed to assess how early-career women expatriates' willingness to trust in organisational equality/diversity principles alters as their careers progress, and the effects of any changing trust relations on their contributions to organisational strategic objectives. Larger senior female expatriate samples are needed to research links between trust relations and turnover.

Practical implications

Organisations must weigh up benefits from using transparent expatriate selection processes versus less formal mechanisms, if informal processes are not to undermine espoused equality interventions. Unconscious bias training should form part of wide-ranging programmes to tackle discrimination. Senior managerial action with embedded accountability is needed.

Originality/value

Exploring the rhetoric and reality of equality/diversity policy implementation on women comprising a minority expatriate group, this research demonstrates women expatriates' early-career trust in gender equality falls away as they first recognise and then accept diminishing female expatriate senior grade representation and the implications for their expatriate careers. Should turnover result, this could detrimentally affect organisational expatriate gender diversity objectives.

Details

Journal of Global Mobility: The Home of Expatriate Management Research, vol. 8 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-8799

Keywords

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