The Pros and Cons of Alternative International Assignments
1. IHRM and Alternative Expatriate Assignments
The international human resources management (IHRM) function of multinational corporations (MNCs) is increasingly challenged by the dynamic global business environment. In particular, MNCs are under pressure to maximize the utility of their expatriate assignments in order to remain competitive. This has led to a need for alternative international assignments, such as commuter assignments, short-term assignments, and international travel.
2. The Global Business Environment and the Necessity for Change
The global business environment is constantly changing, and MNCs must adapt their IHRM strategies in order to remain competitive. For example, the rise of China and India as economic powers has led to increased pressure on MNCs to send employees to these countries in order to tap into their rapidly growing markets. In addition, the increased use of technology has made it possible for MNCs to operate in multiple countries without incurring the same costs as they would have in the past. As a result, MNCs are seeking new ways to use their expatriate employees in order to maximize their return on investment.
3. The Need for Alternative International Assignments
The traditional model of an expatriate assignment, in which an employee is sent to a foreign country for an extended period of time, is no longer feasible for many MNCs. This is due to the increased cost of living abroad and the difficulty of maintaining work-life balance when away from home for long periods of time. In addition, MNCs are finding that they can no longer rely on expatriates to transfer knowledge and expertise between subsidiaries, as employees are often reluctant to return to their home countries after an extended period abroad. As a result, MNCs are turning to alternative international assignments as a way to maximize the utility of their expatriate employees.
4. Types of Alternative International Assignments
There are several types of alternative international assignments that MNCs can use in order to make the most of their expatriate employees. For example, commuter assignments involve sending an employee to a foreign country for a set period of time each week or month, with the employee returning home at regular intervals. This type of assignment is often used when an MNC needs someone with specific expertise or knowledge in a particular country but does not want to incur the cost of sending them on a traditional long-term assignment. Short-term assignments are another type of alternative assignment, and involve sending an employee abroad for a set period of time (usually 6 months or less) before they return home. These types of assignments can be used when an MNC needs someone with specific skills or knowledge in a particular country but does not want to commit to a long-term assignment. Finally, international travel can also be used as an alternative international assignment, and involves sending employees on short trips abroad rather than longer stays. This type of assignment is often used when an MNC wants its employees to gain exposure to different cultures or learn new skills but does not want them to be away from home for extended periods of time.
5. The Pros and Cons of Alternative International Assignments
Alternative international assignments offer both advantages and disadvantages for MNCs. On the one hand, these types of assignments can be more cost-effective than traditional long-term assignments, as they often involve shorter periods of time spent abroad. In addition, alternative assignments can be less disruptive to an employee’s work-life balance, as they allow for more regular contact with family and friends. On the other hand, alternative assignments can be more difficult to manage, as they often involve coordinating the schedules of multiple employees in different time zones. In addition, employees on alternative assignments may find it difficult to adjust to life in a foreign country, as they may not have the same level of support from family and friends as they would on a traditional assignment.
Alternative international assignments offer both advantages and disadvantages for MNCs. While these types of assignments can be more cost-effective and less disruptive to an employee’s work-life balance, they can also be more difficult to manage. MNCs must carefully consider the pros and cons of alternative assignments before deciding whether or not they are right for their business.