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Research Study

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Sending employees on international assignments has been viewed by companies not only as a means of internationalizing companies, but also a way of positively impacting on an organization’s culture with the expatriation knowledge. However, the business is viewed as costly and risky due to the higher expenses involved, which far outweigh the salaries of employees in comparable positions locally. In addition, the task of measuring the value of international tasks has proven to be difficult since it involves both financial and non-financial figures (Schmidt & Minssen, 2007). This paper aims at understanding how HR managers think concerning expatriates in order to be able to better comprehend the environment in which HRCA are applicable. The study involved collecting both qualitative and quantitative data i.e. questionnaires were sent to 415 German chemical companies, and eight HR managers from various firms were interviewed. The findings showed that HR managers show appreciation for the positive effect international assignments have on personal development of employees, but they tend to underestimate the long-term value of international assignments on their companies. The research also found out that many companies have no long-term career plans for expatriates, and this is posing a threat to this investment as expatriates are getting discouraged. The research concluded that since companies do not fully exploit the knowledge of expatriates, the whole international assignment is jeopardized, and that is a challenge to HRCA (Schmidt & Minssen, 2007).

The Investment Cost a Company Makes in Moving an Employee Overseas

It is estimated that the investment cost of sending employees on international assignments range between 1.5 and 4 times the cost of as local employee in a comparable position (Inkson & Myers, 2005). The elements to be considered in projecting the investment cost on expatriates include the cost of expatriate package (salaries, foreign allowances, premiums, and benefits), as well as the relocation support costs which include pre-assignment trip, relocation, language training and tax assistance. Other costs involved include, cost of mentoring programmes, and administrative costs in relation to the management of compensations of the expatriates (Inkson & Myers, 2005). All these when summed up, are far much higher than the amount a company spends on its employees at home.

The Importance of International Assignment to the Employee's Career and Learning

The significance of international experience to the career and learning of an employee are numerous and varied. From international assignments, employees gain vast knowledge of international practices, as well as experience in interaction with various cultures. According to Inkson and Myers (2005), expatriates’ personal relationship with their international colleges greatly impacts on their personal growth as they show enhanced confidence, time-management, sociability, flexibility, and open-mindedness. All these skills are important for their future career development. Other importances include an improved portfolio with professional experience, as well as financial benefits.

How to Effectively Integrate Expatriates’ Knowledge in the Organization When They Return Home.

To effectively integrate what an expatriate has learnt during his international assignment, an organization should ensure that he works with others in a team, where he can share his new skills and experiences. In addition, the company should arrange so that the expatriate has a formal session to train the employees (Inkson & Myers, 2005). However, this should be done in shifts to avoid disrupting the normal working operations. The employees should then be encouraged to apply what they have learnt in their work.

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