Individual, social and institutional factors influencing the willingness of employees to move and resettle internationally

Content and objectives

The willingness to work abroad for a defined period of time (international mobility) is becoming increasingly important in the business world. For many internationally operative companies, international work experience is a necessary prerequisite to consideration for management positions. Furthermore, the internationalisation of business activities has led to a general increase in demand for foreign employees. In addition, the shortage of qualified labour, particularly in Europe, is increasing the need for companies to attract and retain foreign employees in order to benefit from their manpower over the long term. A job abroad has thus increasingly become a ‘typical’ career step. The key elements to retain employees abroad are a fit between the job and the career as well as the fit between the individual, the organisation and the community, including social connections and attractive benefits for foreign employees who continue to work abroad.

The research project examines factors that affect employees’ willingness to work abroad as well as elements of that commitment. One goal is to determine the influence of subjectively perceived cultural distance on individuals’ impressions of cultural differences and on their willingness to move and possibly resettle.

Project goals

  • Identification of factors explaining the willingness of employees to work abroad for longer periods of time.
  • Analysis of reasons that negatively impact the desire to move abroad (e.g. familial obligations or concerns about the quality of life in the target country).
  • Derivation of recommended actions for organisations (e.g. international dual-career programmes) in order to increase situational readiness and thus the success of foreign assignments and the reduction of dropout rates.
  • Analysis of factors that contribute to the retention of foreign employees in a business, organisation and/or community abroad (job embeddedness).
  • Definition of cultural distance at the individual level and analysis of its influence on mobility and willingness to continue living in another country.

Methodology

The studies are based on qualitative and quantitative data (mixed methods). The following research methods are used: systematic literature review, grounded theory, qualitative content analysis, Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) and structural equation modelling (SEM). Based on the results, a system of measurements is developed to determine the willingness of employees to move internationally and to remain in their positions, and the reasoning behind their motivations to leave or to stay is evaluated.

Social relevance and application of results

The benefits of international mobility are offset on the company side by high costs (e.g. reduced performance abroad, abandoned assignments abroad or the unfulfilled expectations of employees who choose to remain), which can result in a low return on investment (ROI) for both companies and foreign employees. For the individual, international mobility is usually associated with a variety of uncertain and new situations (e.g. adaptation to a new culture). If the parties involved are disinclined to face up to the challenges of international mobility, this can result in reduced performance and the discontinuation of activities abroad.

The research results provide knowledge regarding which factors have a positive or negative influence on the willingness and commitment to mobility. Recommendations for the organisational integration of internationally mobile employees are formulated. Thus, the results are of importance not only for foreign employees themselves, but also for organisations that employ an international workforce.

Bamberg competencies

By linking economic, psychological and sociological questions, theories and methods and deriving recommendations for individuals and employers, the research group works in an interdisciplinary manner and thus provides a relevant supplement to previous research on foreign employees.

Publications

Andresen, M., Brewster, C. & Suutari, V. (Eds.) (2020). Mastering the Context of Self-Initiated Expatriation: Recognising Space, Time and Institutions. London: Routledge.

Andresen, M., Brewster, C. & Suutari, V. (2020). Introduction: Recognising space, time, and institutions in self-initiated expatriation research. In: M. Andresen, C. Brewster, & V. Suutari (Eds.), Mastering the Context of Self-Initiated Expatriation: Recognising Space, Time and Institutions. London: Routledge.

Andresen, M., Brewster, C. & Suutari, V. (2020). Conclusions. In: M. Andresen, C. Brewster, & V. Suutari (Eds.), Mastering the Context of Self-Initiated Expatriation: Recognising Space, Time and Institutions. London: Routledge.

Andresen, M., & Muskat, B. (2020). Cultural distance and self-initiated expatriate’s willingness to relocate - A research agenda. In: M. Andresen, C. Brewster, & V. Suutari (Eds.), Mastering the Context of Self-Initiated Expatriation: Recognising Space, Time and Institutions. London: Routledge.

Andresen, M., Pattie, M. W., & Hippler, T. (2020). What does it mean to be a "self-initiated" expatriate in different contexts? A conceptual analysis and suggestions for future research. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 31(1), 174-201. doi: 10.1080/09585192.2019.1674359

Andresen, M., & Bergdolt, F. (2019). Individual and job-related antecedents of a global mindset: An analysis of international business travelers’ characteristics and experiences abroad. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, forthcoming. doi: 10.1080/09585192.2019.1588349

Muskat, B., Lockstone-Binney, L., Ong, F., & Andresen, M. (2019). Talent in hospitality entrepreneurship: A conceptualisation and research agenda. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 31(10), 3899-3918. doi: 10.1108/IJCHM-10-2018-0867

Andresen, M. (2018). When at home, do as they do at home? Valuation of self-initiated repatriates’ competences in French and German management career structures. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, forthcoming. doi: 10.1080/09585192.2018.1511612

Andresen, M., & Bergdolt, F. (2018). Internationale Karrieren von Erwerbstätigen: Wege, Pfade, Systeme und Erfolge. In: S. Kauffeld, & D. Spurk (Eds.), Handbuch Karriere und Laufbahnmanagement (pp. 1-22). Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-662-45855-6_25-1

Dickmann, M., & Andresen, M. (2018). Managing global careerists: Individual, organizational and societal needs.In: M. Dickmann, V. Suutari, & O. Wurtz (Eds.), The Management of Global Careers. Exploring the Rise of International Work (pp. 149-182). London: Palgrave Macmillan. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-76529-7_6

Andresen, M., Dickmann, M., & Suutari, V. (2018). Typologies of internationally mobile employees. In: M. Dickmann, V. Suutari, & O. Wurtz (Eds.), The Management of Global Careers. Exploring the Rise of International Work (pp. 33-62). London: Palgrave Macmillan. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-76529-7_2

Selmer, J., Andresen, M., & Cerdin, J.-L. (2017). Self-initiated expatriates. In: Y. McNulty, & J. Selmer (Eds.), Research Handbook of Expatriates (pp. 187-201). Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar. doi: 10.4337/9781784718183

Walther, M., Mayrhofer, U., & Andresen, M. (2017). Le retour d´expatriation dans un contexte france-allemand: Une analyse fondée sur la théorie de la pratique de Bourdieu. revue @GRH, 25(4), 88-114. doi: 10.3917/grh.174.0088

Lazarova, M., Andresen, M., Froese, F., Kräh, A., & Reiche, S. (2016). An expat is an expat is an expat? Exploring the diversity of global work experiences. In: Proceedings of the AIB 2016 Annual Meeting, New Orleans/USA, June 27-30, 2016.

Andresen, M., & Margenfeld, J. (2015). International relocation mobility readiness and its antecedents. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 30(3), 234-249. doi: 10.1108/JMP-11-2012-0362

Andresen, M. (2015). What determines expatriates' performance while abroad? The role of job embeddedness. Journal of Global Mobility, 3(1), 62-82, doi: 10.1108/JGM-06-2014-0015

Journal of Global Mobility (JGM) Best Paper Award, 14th Conference of the European Academy of Management (EURAM):First runner-up

2016 Emerald Awards for Excellence: Awarded as “highly commended article”

Andresen, M., Biemann, T., & Pattie, M. W. (2015). What makes them move abroad? Reviewing and exploring differences between self-initiated and assigned expatriates. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 26(7-8), 932-947. doi: 10.1080/09585192.2012.669780

Andresen, M., & Domsch, M.E. (2014). Der internationale Personaleinsatz. In: L. von Rosenstiel, E. Regnet, & M.E. Domsch (Hrsg.), Führung von Mitarbeitern: Handbuch für erfolgreiches Personalmanagement (7. Aufl.) (S. 447-459). Stuttgart: Schäffer-Poeschel.

Andresen, M., Al Ariss, A., & Walther, M. (2013). Introduction. Self-initiated expatriation: Individual, organizational, and national Perspectives. In: M. Andresen, A. Al Ariss, & M. Walther (Eds.), Self-Initiated Expatriation: Individual, Organizational, and National Perspectives (pp. 3-10). London: Routledge.

Andresen, M., Bergdolt, F., & Margenfeld, J. (2013). What distinguishes self-initiated expatriates from assigned expatriates and migrants? A literature-based definition and differentiation of terms. In: M. Andresen, A. Al Ariss, & M. Walther (Eds.), Self-Initiated Expatriation: Individual, Organizational, and National Perspectives (pp. 11-41). London: Routledge.

Andresen, M., & Biemann, T. (2013). Career concepts of self-initiated and assigned expatriates: A theoretical analysis based on coupling and configuration. In: M. Andresen, A. Al Ariss, & M. Walther (Eds.), Self-Initiated Expatriation: Individual, Organizational, and National Perspectives (pp. 105-121). London: Routledge.

Andresen, M., & Walther, M. (2013). Self-Initiated Repatriation at the Interplay between Field, Capital, and Habitus: An Analysis Based on Bourdieu’s Theory of Practice. In: M. Andresen, A. Al Ariss, M. Walther (Eds.), Self-Initiated Expatriation: Individual, Organizational, and National Perspectives (pp. 160-180). London: Routledge.

Andresen, M., & Gustschin, T. (2013). Volunteering abroad: A career-related analysis of international development aid workers. In: M. Andresen, A. Al Ariss, & M. Walther (Eds.), Self-Initiated Expatriation: Individual, Organizational, and National Perspectives (pp. 183-204). London: Routledge.

Andresen, M., Andersen, T., Bozionelos, N., Dickmann, M., & Vance, C.M. (2013). Self-initiated expatriation. DWG, In: Proceedings of the 13th conference of the European Academy of Management (EURAM), "Democratising Management", Istanbul/Turkey, June 26-29, 2013.

Andresen, M., & Göbel, M. (2011). Governance of psychological contracts via reciprocity: The case of international expatriation management. In: P.G. Benson (Ed.), Emerging Themes in International Management of Human Resources (pp. 187-210). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Biemann, T., & Andresen, M. (2010). Self-initiated foreign expatriates versus assigned expatriates: Two distinct types of international careers? Journal of Managerial Psychology, 25(4), 430-448.

Andresen, M., & Göbel, M. (2009). Reziprozitätsformen in psychologischen Verträgen. Eine empirische Untersuchung am Beispiel von Auslandsentsandten. Zeitschrift für Personalforschung, 23(4), 312-335.