What Counts as Willing Mobility? Exploring Employee Willingness for Global Work Assignments

Proceedings of The 3rd International Conference on Research in Human Resource Management

Year: 2023



What Counts as Willing Mobility? Exploring Employee Willingness for Global Work Assignments

João Vasco Pereira Coelho




Managing a global workforce has been found be particularly complex, requiring a significant continuous questioning of assumptions by firms and individuals, as well as acute flexibility and sensitivity to new social and cultural dynamics. Current critical matters pertaining to global work and mobility management include the decisions organizations must make about assigning someone to an overseas location for a certain period of time, the changing workplace and workforce characteristics. Aiming to expand upon existing knowledge concerning company IHRM policies and practices and individual willingness to engage with a specific type of global work assignments (business expatriations), the present study considers interaction effects, as proposed by the conservation of resources (COR) theory, as lens to understand if company policies are enacted as qualifying resource passageway of expatriate willingness levels, in developing business contexts. A 3-year study, encompassing 24 expatriate cases observed in 5 multinational firms born or located in Portugal. A total of 37 interviews were conducted, both in-person and remotely, of which 13 were with company managers and representatives, and 24 with expatriates (as defined and referred like this by the companies under study). Overall, three profiles of employee willingness were considered to mirror different types of employee positioning towards working abroad: conformist expatriates, protean expatriates and disrupted expatriates. Practical implications are provided to further understand individual agency-level effects of dynamic, non-functionalist IHRM company expatriate policies, in developing companies and economies.

keywords: Conservation of Resources, Employee Willingness, Expatriation, Global Work, Global Mobility