If the purpose(s) are clear it should be possible to manage the expatriate cycle (selection, preparation for assignment, rewards, performance, reentry) in a systematic and rational way. The extant literature in these areas has generally agreed upon the best practices that appear to have validity for application to the management of expatriates. The prescriptive literature on the selection of long term expatriates has emphasised the importance of technical ability (Selmer 2004 cross cultural suitability (Mendenhall oddou 1985, sunkyu gentry 2005) and family requirements (Caligiuri, hyland, Apama bross 1998) as factors in the selection. This literature has also identified requirements of the assignment, country/cultural requirements and language ability as important environmental factors that should be taken into account (Graf harland 2005). Despite a considerable literature invoking these factors some researchers have questioned their practicality (Brewster suutari 2005). For example, in their study of short term assignments Tahvanainen,.
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The idea of the strategic management of international assignments is report often promoted. In the ideal case an organisation would recognise the strategic purpose of the assignment and then select assignees with the skills best suited to complete the associated tasks. It is important to emphasise, as some researchers have, that organisations often fill vacancies in an ad hoc way relative to staff availability and the willingness of this personnel to go on assignment as driven by the cost of the assignment and the timeline within. Therefore, in reality the purpose of the assignment might be unrelated to key personnel through the domain of satisfying decision making. So while better decisions about the management of assignees might be made if all the processes involved were more considered, organisational and environmental realities often make this problematic. The nurse context of this study of two teams on short term international assignment attracts a primary research question. Posed as a succinct statement the research question is; to what extent was the purpose of the assignment clearly defined? Arguably, if the purpose of the assignment is clearly identified the process of selecting, preparing, rewarding and managing the performance of the team will be undertaken more effectively. In addition, it is likely that the transition of teams back into the organisation after the assignment will be smoother. The Expatriation Cycle, the prescriptions for selecting, preparing, rewarding, managing performance, and managing reentry and career issues of international assignees (IA) have been largely derived from the strategic fit model of hrm (Boxall purcell 2003). This approach posits that in order to ensure that an international assignment will be successful it is important to identify the purpose(s) of an assignment in relation to business strategy.
Literature review, in recent years there has been a significant and fast paced change in the nature of global business in the form of cross border investment, joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions and other forms of partnership. In addition, small and medium sized businesses are increasingly seeking global opportunities (Brewster suutari 2005). Global developments of this kind bring a range of new areas for academic research in both global business generally, and global hrm more specifically. For example, until london recently a major focus of attention in global hrm research was the traditional expatriate (long term assignee). However, recently research is being conducted into flexpatriates (mayerhofer,. 2004 the short term assignee (Tahvanainen,. 2005 and the independent expatriate (Richardson 2008). There is, though, relatively little work on teams on short term international assignments.
This paper considers, through two case studies of teams on short term international assignment, the relevance of prescriptions for the management of expatriates as contained in the relevant literature. In particular, the manuscript content seeks to emphasise that while prescriptions derived from research offer useful insights, the realities confronted by organisations and teams involved in short term team assignments are suggestive of a broader range of factors that influence team success or failure. Through case analysis of two teams on short term international assignment this paper reports on issues relating to their management, a relatively under researched area within contemporary ghrm. The paper begins by reviewing literature on the management of traditional expatriates and its relevance for understanding the management of short term assignments and assignees. Much of this literature focuses on the individual assignee; and thus, second, in this paper, ideas remote concerning team effectiveness and performance are reviewed. Third, the teams and their organisations that are at the centre of the case studies are introduced. Next, the research design is discussed, before a presentation of the findings, implications for future research, and the practical lessons that might business be deduced from the cases.
They are often central to the establishment of business in overseas locations; to the management of international partnerships; to project management; and as agents of knowledge and culture transfer (au fukuda 2002, riusala suutari 2004). Moreover, given that organisations from developing economies are now active and aggressive players in global business, the movement of expatriates is increasingly complex and multidimensional (Sirkin,. An under researched, but vitally important type of expatriation is the team on short term international assignment. Teams are often sent on short term assignments for project work, establishing businesses, and/or to transfer knowledge. Drawing on two case studies of teams on short term international assignment this paper reports on issues relating to their management and performance. One team was despatched to establish a new operation in Singapore, supporting clients who had moved to southeast Asia. In this case the team were client following as its rationale for entering this market location. In the case of the second team regional expansion was driven by opportunistic expansion; the organisation was invited to project manage an assignment for a government department in Thailand.
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Lessons are drawn from the experiences of these two teams that can be used to inform the management of international teams in practice. These lessons underscore the importance of understanding the constraints of context on the successful management of international teams. Introduction, for many years essay a significant focus of global human resources management (ghrm) research has been the traditional long term expatriate (Bonache, brewster suutari 2001, Brewster suutari 2005, mayerhofer, hartmann, michelitsch-riedl kollinger 2004). This emphasis remains the dominant area of interest, although increasingly work is being undertaken on non standard international assignments and independent expatriates using qualitative methodologies (mayerhofer,. 2004, tahvanainen, welch worm 2005, McKenna richardson, 2007, richardson 2008). Moreover, within conventional research, the focus tends to be on the individual expatriate rather than on teams of assignees. The significance of global business is increasing.
In line with this is an escalating need to sustain, develop and manage global operations. Organisations operating globally function in an intensely competitive environment (Sirkin, hemerling bhattacharya 2008). In addition, the nature of this intense competition induces organisations that would not previously have considered going regional or global to engage in sub strategies. Critical to the development and management of global business operations are international assignees (expatriates) and global managers (Cappellen janssens 2008). Expatriates of all types fulfill multiple roles with multiple objectives for organisations.
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Highlight, copy paste to cite: McKenna,., ducharme,. What Happens on tour, Stays on tour: failure and teams on Short Term International Assignment, research and Practice in Human Resource management, 17(1 112-127. Abstract, this paper reports an investigation in the relatively under researched topic of individual responses from engagements in teams on short term international assignment. The existing international human resource management literature focuses primarily on long term assignments and their impact on individuals. Through interviews with team members and hq managers at three stages of the assignment process (before, during and after) three research questions are investigated. First, to what extent was the purpose of the assignments clearly defined? Second, to what extent was a prescribed approach to the management of the expatriate cycle used, and if not what factors prevented their application? Third, to what extent does poor team process on international assignment lead to project failure and serious business repercussions, such as lost opportunities, employee turnover and loss of reputation?
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