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Global Mobility in the Digital Age

Special issue call for papers from International Journal of Manpower


Special Issue of International Journal of Manpower:
Global Mobility in the Digital Age
Jaime Bonache
Luigi Stirpe (corresponding Guest Editor: [email protected]
Miriam Sánchez
Eduardo Melero
Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

There seems to be no doubt that most people’s lives are being relentlessly transformed by the increasing digitalization of the modern age. The extensive use of the internet has indeed reduced geographical distances and transaction times (even annulling them), creating an endless number of opportunities for social and economic development (de Reuver et al., 2017).
Managerial activities are no strangers to this digitalization process. In particular, the  academic literature has widely discussed the World Wide Web’s potential for affecting Human Resource Management processes and practices (e.g., Galanaki et al., 2018), as well the competences of today’s HR professionals (e.g., Bondarouk et al., 2017). Yet only marginal consideration has so far been dedicated to digitalization’s impact on international work, a situation that has motivated this Special Issue. The purpose here is to expand the research in this field by adopting a wide-ranging approach focusing on the perspectives of both organizations and individuals.

There are three broad research questions that we aim to explore. The first can be formulated as follows: How are digital technologies changing global and international work? The globalization of business gives more and more individuals the opportunity to work within an international context (Caligiuri and Bonache, 2016). However, digital technologies now offer the opportunity to develop a number of international tasks remotely without the need for any physical displacement. While virtual interactions have become more and more commonplace (Gilson et al., 2015), our understanding of how digital technologies are affecting international work processes and outcomes is still limited. Virtual interactions may take place not only with subordinates or co-workers located in other countries, but also with suppliers and customers. International work processes may change their nature through the adoption of digital tools and techniques that require new inputs in terms not only of knowledge, skills and abilities, but also of personality and receptiveness to cultural diversity at work. Performance outcomes may vary as a consequence of those elements, and this may in turn explain variations in organizational performance. Similarly, there is need to identify the kinds of international tasks that can be effectively developed on a virtual basis, and which ones are better fulfilled through more traditional approaches. There may be differences, for example, between those tasks involving the transfer of tacit knowledge and those involving the transfer of explicit knowledge. Finally, a topic deserving attention involves the effects digital communication has on the wellbeing of international workers in terms of both happiness (e.g., job satisfaction) and wellness (e.g., anxiety). Any manuscript addressing the above subjects may be included in this Special Issue.

However, we also acknowledge that global work is developing above and beyond the assignment of international workers, and now involve large numbers of migrants that cross national borders with valuable human capital (Tharenou, 2015). Those manuscripts exploring this category of international workers will also be considered for possible inclusion in the Special Issue. Possible topics could address, for example, how the motives and willingness to work abroad are influenced by exposure to digital platforms. Another topic could cover the specific attitudes and approaches migrants can offer organizations compared to host-country nationals, and how their hiring affects work dynamics and outputs.

The second research question the Special Issue intends to address is the following: What global issues and challenges are individuals and organizations facing in the digital era? Previous research has shown that international workers’ characteristics may be essential for explaining adjustment levels (e.g., Hippler et al., 2014), and that these expatriates tend to share certain personality traits (Caligiuri, 2000). However, we know little about whether the digitalization of international work requires specific individual qualities to be effective. For example, while traits such as extroversion, agreeableness and emotional stability have been found to predict expatriate success (e.g., Shaffer et al., 2006), successful international workers in this new digital era may share other characteristics that seem to be still poorly explored. Organizations can use this information to better fill and manage international positions. Similarly, although specific training activities such as cross-cultural training have been found to facilitate expatriate adjustment (Mendenhall and Oddou, 1986), we lack an understanding of the specific competences international workers need to succeed in their jobs. Finally, the demographic characteristics (e.g., age or gender) of those individuals involved in international tasks may also be explored, as they may interact with the new digital context to affect relationships at work and, in turn, task effectiveness (Park et al., 2015). Any manuscript exploring these issues may consider this Special Issue a target for publication.

Regarding the third and last research question for the Special Issue, this can be stated in the following terms: How are digital technologies affecting the management of a global workforce? The main determinants of today’s digitalization processes are indeed new technologies, and in particular digital platforms (Parker et al., 2016). These tools may change many aspects related to the way international workers are managed throughout their entire international assignment. For example, those assignments partially or wholly based on digital platforms may be used for developmental purposes or for preparing more traditional in situ assignments. Because communication with family members becomes easier thanks to new technologies, family relocation may become less common for middle-to-long-term assignments. Novel challenges may also arise when motivating international workers to undertake digital-based international tasks. For example, specific incentives may be designed to elicit the expected employee contributions, while performance monitoring may require new approaches. Finally, as the use of digital platforms spreads, the selection of employees predisposed toward global work based on such tools may become essential. This may require a more structured approach to the identification of international inclinations further upstream in the pipeline.

The Special Issue aims to provide a more detailed exploration of all the above issues, although we are also open to any work proposing other innovative research streams on the topic of global mobility in the digital age. We are interested not only in studies that provide new empirical insights but also in those contributing with theoretical analyses that can improve our understanding of the topic under analysis here. While some of the manuscripts to be reviewed were presented at the 15th International HRM Conference held in Madrid in June 2018, the Special Issue is open to any other submissions. Manuscripts should be submitted to International Journal of Manpower using the online submission and peer review system ScholarOne Manuscripts at by 24th March, 2019. The Special Issue is scheduled for publication in late 2019. All manuscripts will undergo the IJM regular double-blind review process and follow the standard norms and procedures. Please see author guidelines here


Bondarouk, T., Parry, E., & Furtmueller, E. (2017). Electronic HRM: four decades of research on adoption and consequences. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 28(1), 98-131.
Caligiuri, P. M. (2000). The Big Five personality characteristics as predictors of expatriate success. Personnel Psychology, 53: 67–88.
Caligiuri, P., & Bonache, J. (2016). Evolving and enduring challenges in global mobility. Journal of World Business, 51(1), 127-141.
de Reuver, M., Sørensen, C., & Basole, R. C. (2018). The digital platform: a research agenda. Journal of Information Technology, 33(2), 124-135.
Galanaki, E., Lazazzara, A., & Parry, E. (2019). A Cross-National Analysis of E-HRM Configurations: Integrating the Information Technology and HRM Perspectives. In Organizing for Digital Innovation (pp. 261-276). Springer, Cham.
Gilson, L. L., Maynard, M. T., Jones Young, N. C., Vartiainen, M., & Hakonen, M. (2015). Virtual teams research: 10 years, 10 themes, and 10 opportunities. Journal of Management, 41(5), 1313-1337.
Hippler, T., Caligiuri, P., & Johnson, J. (2014). Revisiting the construct of expatriate adjustment: Implications for theory and measurement. International Studies of Management and Organization, 44(3): 8–24.
Mendenhall, M., & Oddou, G. (1986). Acculturation profiles of expatriate managers: Implications for cross-cultural training programs. Columbia Journal of World Business, 21(4), 73-79.
Park, C., Vertinsky, I., & Becerra, M. (2015). Transfers of tacit vs. explicit knowledge and performance in international joint ventures: The role of age. International Business Review, 24(1), 89-101.
Parker, G. G., Van Alstyne, M. W., and Choudary, S. P. (2016). Platform Revolution: How networked markets are transforming the economy and how to make them work for you. New York: WW Norton & Co.
Shaffer, M. A., Harrison, D. A., Gregersen, H., Black, J. S., & Ferzandi, L. A. (2006). You can take it with you: Individual differences and expatriate effectiveness. Journal of Applied Psychology, 91(1): 109–125.
Tharenou, P. (2015). Researching expatriate types: the quest for rigorous methodological approaches. Human Resource Management Journal, 25(2), 149-165.