An international assignment of 3-5 years is usually considered as Long Term Assignment. One of the reasons that it is becoming extremely more expensive for MNE’s is due to the nature of the job scope and the International Assignee’s (IA) personal considerations. Interestingly, according to the 2009 Global Relocation Trends Survey [ (Brookfield Global Relocation Services, 2009) ] report, when multinational companies are relocating their employees for assignments overseas these days regardless of short or long term, they tend to dispatch older and more experienced employees due to the low risk of assignment failure. This is one of the reasons why it has become increasingly and extremely more expensive for MNE’s [ (Harzing, 1995) ]. Following the expatriate demographic provided by the survey, family concerns sit on top of the chart which remain the most overwhelming reason of 92% for assignment refusal and also the top reason for early returns from assignments which recorded at high of 27%. Historically, the top five challenges over the years of the survey have been family adjustment, partner resistance, difficult location, children’s education, and partner’s career [ (Borstorff, 1997) ]; [ (Brett, 1995) ]. These are also the reasons why it is difficult to find the right candidates with the right experience to fill the vacancy for long term assignment [ (Shaffer, 2001) ]. Antidotes for the Poisons - Exploiting Other Alternatives
Due to the above dilemma faced by most of the MNE’s, they are now looking at other alternatives which can provide them with the best ‘antidotes’ to the ‘poisons’ that are stinging them. The ranges of alternatives of international assignments that the multinational companies can consider apart from the long term assignment include short term, self-initiated, commuter, and virtual assignments. Short term assignments
This type of assignments can last from a few weeks to months. According to the PricewaterhouseCooper’s survey 2001, there is a sharp increase of almost 60% in the popularity of companies implementing this approach in their respective organizations. This is due to the nature of these assignments which give the companies an ‘instant’ solution in resolving skills shortages and are in general easier to manage [ (Solomon, 1999) ]. Apart from that, in comparison with the long term assignments, short term assignments imposed lower cost to the companies due to the assignment length and duration. In addition, companies do not need to spend on relocation on their entire employees’ family and it is also a good means to circumvent family-related problems which can be seen in most of the traditional assignments such as family upheavel. Self-initiated assignments
Over the years, there is this trend that is growing in numbers where the assignees make their arrangements to find work abroad and are employed on local work contracts. According to [ (Suutari, 2000) ], they have identified a series of distinct characteristics of the self-initiated assignees as compared to traditional expatriation. These characteristics, which may not be that ‘bull’s eye’ accurate, however does speaks most common assignees may have and practice. These include young and single, be more motivated in moving abroad due to interest in internationalism and poor employment situations at home, working for companies at lower hierarchical levels, and receive no repatriation promises and view their relocation as a more permanent move. The benefit of recruiting the self-initiated assignees is that it can offer companies the potential of not having to undertake preparation. In fact, the assignees recruited could have been resident in a particular location for years where they are well blend with the socio-cultural of the place. One of the drawbacks is that the assignees are not familiar with the organizational culture which until a certain extent where such familiarity is important will be driven by the...