Case 5 From Jaguar to Bluebird – Mark Chan Returns Home after His Expatriate Assignment (B)
This teaching note was prepared by Günter K. Stahl, Assistant Professor of Asian Business and Comparative Management at INSEAD and Chei Hwee Chua, Doctoral Student at the Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina. It is intended to aid instructors in the classroom use of the case Mark Chan’s Decision to Stay Overseas or Return Home after His Expatriate Assignment (A and B).
Financial support for the project "Expatriate Careers" (INSEAD research grant # 2010-502 R) is gratefully acknowledged.
Copyright © 2004 INSEAD, Singapore.
N.B. Please note that details of ordering INSEAD cases are found on the back cover. Copies may not be made without permission.
Mark Chan’s five-year international assignment in a senior management position at corporate headquarters in London is coming to an end. With a generous expatriate compensation and benefits package, a large house with a big garden in the countryside, and two fancy cars, Mark and his family are living a life in England that they can only dream of in their home country, Singapore. Having performed well in his job at corporate headquarters, Mark is offered a promotion opportunity – a very attractive three-year international assignment at his company’s subsidiary in the Netherlands. However, due to family reasons, his wife Linda feels the need to return home in the near future and Mark starts to look for a suitable position back in Singapore. When the position of regional general manager for one of the company’s largest divisions that Mark is hoping to get is offered to someone else, he has to decide whether to continue pursuing an international career or return to a position that would essentially mean a demotion. The case ends with Mark wondering what he should do. He feels torn between his career aspirations and the long-term needs of his family: whatever decision he makes, either his career or family will suffer. (A Case)
After further discussions with Linda, Mark reluctantly decides to accept the offer of the middle management position and move back to Singapore with his family. To their surprise, adapting to life in Singapore turns out to be less easy than they expected. Although happy to be back in Singapore to take care of her parents, Linda finds her life less satisfying than she had imagined while in England. The children miss their friends and are experiencing serious adjustment problems at school. After just a few months, Mark is beginning to feel bored with his new job. He also realizes that, unlike what he had been told upon accepting the offer, his current position might not be “temporary” as no senior management positions in Singapore will be available for quite some time. He feels trapped and starts considering leaving the company. (B Case)
This case is based on a real person. The names of the company and people, and the circumstances have been altered to protect the anonymity of everyone involved in the actual situation.
Teaching the Case
1.Should Mark accept the position offered in Singapore and return home? (A Case)
2. What are his options? If Mark accepts the position offered in Singapore, what should his career plan be? (A Case)
3. Who is to blame for the current situation? What factors contributed to Mark’s reentry problems and to those of his family? (A and B Case)
4. What can the organization do to avoid the kind of problems illustrated in this case? From an HR perspective, what would be a more systematic approach to repatriation planning and international career development? (A and B Case)
The sequence of the assignment questions forces students to analyze the nature of Mark’s dilemma, and the likely implications of the...