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Factsheet:

International mobility

Resource summary

This factsheet was last updated in July 2016.

What is international mobility?

A key role for HR departments in multinational enterprises is managing internationally mobile staff in order to achieve business objectives. An element of this involves the assignment of expatriates - groups of managers and experts who transfer between HQ and subsidiaries or between subsidiaries usually on enhanced terms and conditions.

The traditional approach to expatriation where employees are sent out from headquarters to share good practice or culture has been described as ethnocentric and has tended to focus on white middle-class males. However there’s evidence that this profile of the internationally mobile population is changing to include:

  • more people from outside both the home and host country ‘third country nationals’
  • more women
  • greater emphasis on dual career couples.

These changes have been accompanied by increasingly higher education levels within the working popular involved in international assignments. Many will be educated to MBA level and be expecting future career progression.

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