Maike Andresen (5th from right) with partners of the international research project GLOMO.

Robert Kneschke

One goal of GLOMO: exploring how career capital changes during the stay abroad, for example subject-specific and communicational skills.

- Patricia Achter

Improving Career Chances with International Work Experience

PhD candidates wanted for an interdisciplinary EU research project

Does a German electrician have better career chances after having worked in Micronesia for five years? Or might employees in Great Britain be enthusiastic about a British pharmacist having worked in Germany for three years? The effects that several years of working abroad might have on a career abroad and in one’s home country is one of the central issues of the international research project GLOMO – Global mobility of employees.

The project is funded by roughly four million Euros from the European Commission as part of the Horizont 2020 funding programme. The University of Bamberg, together with five other European partner universities, the Institute for Employment Research and Airbus, is conducting research on employee mobility from business, economic, sociological and political science perspectives. “It really is a tremendous success to be part of the roughly five percent of applicants whose application, after such extensive preparation, was accepted”, says Professor Maike Andresen. She is the project coordinator and the chair of Human Resource Management and Organisational Behaviour at the University of Bamberg. Out of 1,718 applications that were submitted in 2017, the European Commission is only funding 127 projects, nine of which are part of the most competitive field, Social Sciences and Humanities.

Interdisciplinary research

GLOMO’s foremost goal is to work with 15 outstanding PhD candidates between September 2018 and August 2021 to explore four interdisciplinary aspects of employee mobility: Firstly, the respective career trajectory before the visit abroad. Following up on that, exploring how career capital changes during the stay abroad, for example subject-specific and communicational skills. Thirdly, the research consortium will explore the worth of that career capital after the employee has returned to his or her native country. The last aspect to be explored will be how the experience abroad affects the employee’s personal identity.

Exploring and experiencing internationality

The participating PhD candidates will receive structured training both locally at their individual universities as well as in network-spanning seminars. Furthermore, they will not only examine experiences abroad from a scientific perspective, but will also experience them themselves. This is because one prerequisite for applicants wishing to stay in their native country is that they have spent at least twelve months abroad within the last three years. Applicants who do not fulfill this requirement have the opportunity to emigrate while working on their doctoral dissertations.

In total, there are 15 open positions for PhD candidates in such countries as Great Britain and Finland, among others. Until 28 February 2018, those interested can apply for the sub-projects that have already been decided on. Collectively, they are all part of GLOMO, with each PhD candidate contributing to the overall project with his or her dissertation. “That is going to be the challenge”, explains Maike Andresen. “Basically, it’s the EU in its purest form: Everyone can enjoy certain freedoms and has to find his or her place under this common roof.” Each PhD candidate has at least three advisors from different countries and also works closely with at least one other PhD candidate. “We call it a spaghetti arrangement: Everyone is in some way connected to the other”, says Professor Andresen. Initial research findings will be available in the fall of 2019.

Developing a seal for international employers

Apart from the interdisciplinary and international aspects of the project, there is also a practical one: The team of researchers will develop an audit programme called International Employer, meaning a seal of approval for employers that offer good working conditions for international staff. For that purpose, the research consortium will outline a catalogue of criteria that it will then first implement at Airbus, the project’s professional partner organisation. Criteria might include: What language do employees use to communicate? Was the employment contract drafted in English? How many foreign employees already work at the company? “There is no comparable auditing programme at present. We see the possibility of the PhD candidates later launching an organisation as a result of this”, Maike Andresen elaborates.

Further information on the project, the application process and important contacts can be found on the project’s website:


This news was translated by Andreas Böhler and Benjamin Wilson.