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Changing patterns of global staffing in the multinational enterprise : challenges to the conventional expatriate assignment and emerging alternatives

Collings, D. and Scullion, H. and Morley, M. (2007) Changing patterns of global staffing in the multinational enterprise : challenges to the conventional expatriate assignment and emerging alternatives. Journal of World Business, 42 (2). pp. 198-213. ISSN 1090-9516

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Abstract

We argue that many MNCs continue to underestimate the complexities involved in global staffing and that organisations and academics must take a more strategic view of staffing arrangements in an international context. We suggest that the context for the management and handling of the international assignment has altered significantly, leading in some quarters to a fundamental reassessment of the contribution of, and prospects for, the international assignment as conventionally understood. We explore a variety of supply side issues, cost issues, demand side issues and career issues as triggers to this reassessment. Alongside the conventional expatriate assignment, we point to the emergence of a portfolio of alternatives to the traditional international assignment including short-term assignments, commuter assignments, international business travel and virtual assignments. In the context of these developments, we argue that a standardised approach to international assignments is untenable and that it is essential to develop HR policies and procedures that reflect differences in the various forms of emerging alternative international assignments and their associated complexities. Here recruitment and selection, training, reward, and occupational health and safety issues and implications are all explored.