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Article

Liisa Mäkelä, Hilpi Kangas and Vesa Suutari

The purpose of this paper is to focus on satisfaction with an expatriate job and how such satisfaction is linked to leadership. Specifically, this research examines how…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to focus on satisfaction with an expatriate job and how such satisfaction is linked to leadership. Specifically, this research examines how two different kinds of distances – physical distance and functional distance – between an expatriate and his/her supervisor are related to satisfaction with the expatriate job.

Design/methodology/approach

The study was conducted among 290 Finnish expatriates. Moderated hierarchical regression analysis was conducted in order to test the research hypothesis.

Findings

The results show that low functional distance with a supervisor is related to greater satisfaction with the expatriate job. The physical distance is not directly connected to expatriate job satisfaction, but the common effect of the two types of distance shows that among those whose functional distance is low, working in the same country with the leader is linked to greater expatriate satisfaction than recorded among those who were physically distant. Interestingly, expatriates with high functional distance are more satisfied with the expatriate job if they work in a different country to their supervisor.

Originality/value

This study makes a contribution in three areas; first, it addresses the understudied phenomena of international work-specific job satisfaction, specifically satisfaction with an expatriate job. Second, it provides new knowledge on the outcomes of leader distance in the context of expatriation, a work situation that is inherently related to changes in physical location and to organizational relationships. Third, it contributes to leadership literature and highlights the importance of the conditions and the context in which leadership occurs.

Details

Journal of Global Mobility: The Home of Expatriate Management Research, vol. 7 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-8799

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Article

Vesa Suutari, Chris Brewster, Kimmo Riusala and Salla Syrjäkari

This paper extends the increasing debates about the role of international experience through mechanisms other than standard expatriation packages, in particular through…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper extends the increasing debates about the role of international experience through mechanisms other than standard expatriation packages, in particular through the use of short-term assignments. It explores the different forms of short-term assignments (project work, commuter assignments, virtual international working and development assignments) and the different sets of positive and negative implications these can have for the company and the individuals concerned. The integration-differentiation debate is reflected here as elsewhere in IHRM, with the company moving towards greater centralization and control of its use of these assignments.

Design/methodology/approach

Since the research is exploratory, we adopted a qualitative approach to get a more in-depth understanding on the realities the corporations and the assignees are facing. The study was implemented through a single case study setting in which the data were collected by interviewing (n=20) line managers, human resource management (HRM) staff and assignees themselves. In addition corporate documentation and other materials were reviewed.

Findings

The present case study provides evidence about the characteristics of short-term assignments as well as the on the management of such assignments. The paper identifies various benefits and challenges involved in the use of short-term assignments both from the perspectives of the company and assignees. Furthermore, the findings support the view that a recent increase in the popularity of short-term assignments has not been matched by the development of HRM policies for such assignments.

Research limitations/implications

As a single case study, limitations in the generalizability of the findings should be kept in mind. More large-scale research evidence is needed around different forms of international assignments beyond standard expatriation in order to fully capture the realities faced by international HRM specialists

Practical implications

The paper identifies many challenges but also benefits of using short-term assignments. The paper reports in-depth findings on HR development needs that organizations face when expanding the use of such assignments.

Social implications

The paper identifies many challenges but also benefits of using short-term assignments. The paper reports in-depth findings on HR development needs that organizations face when expanding the use of such assignments.

Originality/value

Empirical research on short-term assignments is still very limited. In that way the paper provides much needed in-depth evidence on why such assignments are used, what challenges are involved in the use of such assignments and what kinds of HR-development needs are involved.

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Article

Chris Brewster and Vesa Suutari

This paper introduces this special issue.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper introduces this special issue.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper examines some of the key themes in global human resource management.

Findings

By reviewing, briefly, the existing literature in these areas, the paper outlines a limited but crucial research agenda and sets the papers in this special issue in context.

Originality/value

This paper presents some new empirically‐based work on human resource development.

Details

Personnel Review, vol. 34 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0048-3486

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Article

Liisa Mäkelä, Marja Känsälä and Vesa Suutari

The purpose of this paper is to identify how dual career expatriates view their spouses' roles during international assignments.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to identify how dual career expatriates view their spouses' roles during international assignments.

Design/methodology/approach

In total, 39 interviews were carried out with expatriates who had a working spouse. The interview data were content analysed using replication logic.

Findings

The authors' findings indicate that the importance of spousal support increases among dual career couples during international assignments. Expatriates report their spouses as having supporting, flexible, determining, instrumental, restricting and equal partner spousal roles.

Originality/value

This study provides in‐depth understanding about multiple spousal roles during international assignments among dual career couples and contributes to the previous literature by showing how spousal roles appear in the international context, and by identifying two new spousal roles.

Details

Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal, vol. 18 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1352-7606

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Article

Akram Al Ariss, Iris Koall, Mustafa Özbilgin and Vesa Suutari

The purpose of this editorial is to present an overview of the papers in this special issue.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this editorial is to present an overview of the papers in this special issue.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper draws on papers in this special issue.

Findings

There is a multi‐disciplinarily approach of the papers in this issue in connecting fields of management, sociology, migration, and psychology, among others, in the area of international mobility.

Originality/value

The guest editors continue their commitment, in this special issue, to expanding the field of study of migration and the careers of migrants from theoretical and methodological perspectives.

Details

Journal of Management Development, vol. 32 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0262-1711

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Article

Akram Al Ariss, Iris Koall, Mustafa Özbilgin and Vesa Suutari

The careers of skilled migrant workers is an under‐theorised field of research. This paper proposes a theoretical and methodological expansion of studies of careers of…

Abstract

Purpose

The careers of skilled migrant workers is an under‐theorised field of research. This paper proposes a theoretical and methodological expansion of studies of careers of skilled migrants.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper offers a critical review of the literature on careers of skilled migrants from a multilevel approach including individual, organizational, and contextual levels.

Findings

The review leads to two key theoretical and methodological expansions: first, it demonstrates that migrant careers need to be understood as a relational construct that is at the interplay of individual and institutions and as a multi‐layer and multi‐faceted phenomenon. This approach requires the authors to explore careers in temporal and spatial contexts. The second expansion made requires the adoption of relational methodologies, as well as more reflexive methods which encourages researchers to recognize a wider range of vested interests when framing their research questions and designing their studies.

Originality/value

This paper has two key values: first, it questions the central assumptions in the management and organizational literature regarding the topic of international mobility; second, it offers a theoretical and a methodological model for future research on this topic.

Details

Journal of Management Development, vol. 31 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0262-1711

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Article

Vesa Suutari

The need for developing a cadre of global managers who are capable of working in international key positions wherever the needs of companies require it, has been widely…

Abstract

The need for developing a cadre of global managers who are capable of working in international key positions wherever the needs of companies require it, has been widely stressed. Typically, the literature on international careers still deals with international assignments as “once‐in‐a‐lifetime” experiences and thus as a continuum from selecting the right candidates to repatriating them back to the home country. Less attention has been devoted to so‐called global managers who are committed to international careers for a longer term. In the present study, career orientations, career tracks, career commitment and life‐style implications of global managers are analysed. The results indicate that the majority of managers were originally interested in an international career. In their career they typically vary between positions abroad and in the home country instead of moving from one international assignment to another. Typically they consider the positive implications to override the negative implications of such a career with respect to both themselves and their families. As a result, they are often firmly committed to working in international environments in the future.

Details

Journal of Managerial Psychology, vol. 18 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0268-3946

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Article

Vesa Suutari and David Burch

Due to the globalisation of business, international assignments are becoming more typical career steps in managerial careers than before. On the other hand, expatriation…

Abstract

Due to the globalisation of business, international assignments are becoming more typical career steps in managerial careers than before. On the other hand, expatriation has been found to include several problems including high costs, adjustment challenges, inefficiency, and premature returns. As an outcome, the need for adequate preparation and training of expatriates has been stressed. Here the focus has been on pre‐departure issues while on‐site support and training provided by host units has clearly been covered less. In the present study it is analysed what kind of on‐site support and training host units provide to expatriates and what kind of support the expatriates see as necessary. In order to understand the situation expatriates are facing when arriving at their host units, their adjustment difficulties and pre‐departure training are also covered. The results indicate that training and support provided by host units is a more common form of expatriate training than pre‐departure training. Thus, existing research may exaggerate the lack of expatriate training when focusing only on pre‐departure training.

Details

Career Development International, vol. 6 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1362-0436

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Article

Vesa Suutari and Kristiina Mäkelä

The purpose of this paper is to address the research question of “How does a global career involving multiple international relocations influence the career capital of an…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to address the research question of “How does a global career involving multiple international relocations influence the career capital of an individual manager?”, and to examine the typical career‐capital‐related characteristics, drivers and outcomes associated with global careers. The importance of understanding the careers of global leaders, whose work paths typically include various international positions and assignments, has increased due to the globalization of business. A particularly relevant approach for studying such careers is through a framework of career capital, which adopts an individualistic perspective to explain how actors consciously acquire portable capabilities, construct networks and identify their own motivations, applying them in their specific work contexts.

Design/methodology/approach

The study adopts a qualitative design based on interviews with 20 managers on a global career path involving multiple international assignments.

Findings

The results indicate that international work experience has an extensive developmental effect on the career capital of managers. First, the interviewees reported that their global careers had strongly increased their knowing‐why career capital, referring to meaning and self‐awareness. With regard to knowing‐how career capital, their multiple international experiences had considerably enhanced several work‐related competencies. The key drivers behind this development included the broad range of responsibilities, the nature of the international environment, a high level of autonomy, and cross‐cultural differences. Finally, in terms of knowing‐whom capital, the results of the study indicate that the contact network managers acquire during their international assignments was of very high importance for their future careers. As a further outcome of their global careers, the managers were found to have a very strong career identity.

Originality/value

This paper provides a novel perspective on a topic that is of increasingly critical importance in today's global business.

Details

Journal of Managerial Psychology, vol. 22 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0268-3946

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Book part

Adam Smale and Vesa Suutari

Purpose –– The aim of the present study was to shed light on the role of Western expatriates in knowledge transfer processes in foreign subsidiaries in Central and Eastern…

Abstract

Purpose –– The aim of the present study was to shed light on the role of Western expatriates in knowledge transfer processes in foreign subsidiaries in Central and Eastern Europe and the impediments they face in these roles in the context of socio-economic transformation.

Methodology/approach –– The findings are based on qualitative data collected via in-depth telephone interviews with 18 Finnish expatriates across a range of firms and industries –– nine located in Estonia and nine in the Czech Republic.

Findings –– The expatriates performed a wide variety of roles reflecting their use as mechanisms of control, coordination and the transfer of knowledge; however, the extent of their knowledge transfer activities was largely influenced by the MNCs' desired level of subsidiary integration. Challenges in the knowledge transferor role were identified at all three levels –– social, organisational and relational –– with some noticeable similarities and differences across the two countries.

Research limitations/implications –– This study included the views of expatriates only and not the views of other key stakeholders such as host-country employees and managers at headquarters. In order to verify the accounts of expatriates as well as establish a picture of how effective the expatriates are in their knowledge mobilisation roles, future research should endeavour to include other key parties in the knowledge transfer process.

Details

The Role of Expatriates in MNCs Knowledge Mobilization
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78052-113-8

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