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Alternative forms of global mobility: Fresh insights about frequent flyers, short-term, rotational and virtual assignments, international business commuters

Special issue call for papers from Journal of Global Mobility

Guest Editors

Maike Andresen, Michael Dickmann, Arno Haslberger

In response to challenges such as high costs of long-term expatriate assignments, family dual-career couple related issues when relocating abroad and high turnover rates upon repatriation, companies are continuing to seek alternatives to traditional corporate expatriates (CARTUS, 2014; Demel & Mayrhofer, 2010). Included in this portfolio of global employees are frequent flyers (international business travellers, IBTs), global virtual teams, short-term assignees, international business commuters (IBCs) and international rotational assignees (IRAs) among others (Baruch, Dickmann, Altman, & Bournois, 2013; Brookfield Global Relocation Services, 2014; Collings, Scullion, & Morley, 2007; Starr, 2009; Welch, Welch, & Worm, 2007). While these alternative forms of global work show several benefits compared to long-term international assignments (e. g. relocation cost savings), frequent work-related travels have already been connected to negative outcomes such as individual stress, burnout and family problems (e.g. Copeland, 2009; Westman, Etzion, & Gattenio, 2008). High expatriate stress has been linked to less job satisfaction, high withdrawal behavior and high turnover intention (Bhanugopan & Fish, 2006; Podsakoff, LePine, & LePine, 2007; Silbiger & Pines, 2014). Consequently, the question remains whether the benefits for companies from seeking alternatives to long-term expatriate assignments actually outweigh their costs. Further, it is not yet clear, to what extent individual (e.g. personality traits) as well as organizational (e.g. company support) factors impact the relationship between alternative forms of global work and individual as well as organizational outcome variables. Future research needs to identify employee profiles (e.g. personality traits, motives and family situation) that fit to the specific demands of the different forms of global work (“person-job-fit”; cf. Lauver & Kristof-Brown, 2001). For example, adventurousness might be a personality trait especially important for individuals who work as IBT (Konopaske, Robie, & Ivancevich, 2009). At the same time, studies indicate that frequent business trips can cause severe problems for the employee (e.g. health) as well as his or her family life (cf. Collings et al., 2007). To conclude, further research is necessary to close these crucial research gaps. Companies could highly profit from the results of these studies, e.g. concerning the composition of their portfolio of global employees or the selection of expatriate candidates for specific forms of global work (e.g. employees who are highly stress-resistant could be selected for IBT positions).

Most extant research on alternative types of global employees has targeted the subgroup of frequent flyers / IBTs and associated challenges such as employee stress or burnout and career success (e.g. Demel & Mayerhofer, 2010; Westman et al., 2008). Other studies focused on short-term assignments and related family or repatriation problems (Copeland, 2009; Starr, 2009; Starr & Currie, 2009). Several authors focused on the utilization and effectiveness of virtual assignments in organizations (e.g. Welch, Worm, & Fenwick, 2003). In times of rapid technological developments this kind of global work, which allows companies to use the best talent worldwide, is becoming increasingly important (cf. Collings et al., 2007). By contrast, comparably few studies deal with commuter and especially rotational assignments (e.g. Mayrhofer & Scullion, 2002). While some scholars assume that commuter assignments can negatively impact employee health and personal relationships (Dowling & Welch, 2004), others state that commuter assignments allow for a greater degree of work-life balance than IBTs (Meyskens, von Glinow, Werther, & Clarke, 2009). Hence, further studies are necessary to deepen the knowledge about the challenges (e.g. concerning employee work-life balance) unique to commuter and especially rotational assignees (e.g. in contrast to IBTs or short-term assignees).

Rotational assignments are an inherent feature of many jobs in different industries: hospitality or tourism industry (e.g. pilots, flight attendants or skippers for cruise ships), logistics (e.g. merchant navy, truck drivers or train drivers), international sports management (e.g. athletes) and art (e.g. musicians, actors or circus artists). Further occupational groups concerned are journalists or foreign correspondents, military personnel, international volunteers (development workers, “Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières”), church officials or fashion models. However, research on the characteristics of these specific groups of rotational assignees remains limited (e.g. Aalton et al., 2014; Hudson & Inkson, 2006; McElroy, Rodriguez, Griffin, Morrow, & Wilson, 1993; Thibault, 2009)

To better understand the challenges and consequences of this growing diverse portfolio of global employees, this special issue intends to provide a platform to draw together scholarly research that contributes to our knowledge about (1) the challenges unique to alternative (short-term) forms of global mobility, focusing especially on less well researched forms such as commuter or rotational assignments and virtual assignments, (2) the impact of the different kinds of global work on individuals and organisations, and (3) individual and organisational factors influencing the relationship between these alternative forms of global work and individual as well as organizational outcome variables. Original empirical (qualitative and quantitative) research, theory development, meta-analytic reviews, and critical literature reviews are all suitable for potential inclusion in the special issue. Below is an illustrative list of topics that are consistent with the scope of this special issue, but other topics may be appropriate as well:

  • How common are alternative forms of global work (e.g. virtual assignments, commuter and rotational assignments) in organisations today? To what extent do organisations’ benefits from alternative forms of global work outweigh the costs (e.g. turnover)?
  • What is the impact of these alternative forms of global work on organizational outcomes and on employee performance?
  • What challenges do organizations face in managing alternative forms of global employees?
  • Which challenges (e.g. employee health and stress) do rotational assignees in different industries or occupational groups face?
  • Which employee profiles (e.g. concerning personality traits and family situation) fit to different forms of global work (e.g. IBTs)?
  • Which competencies and abilities (e.g. intercultural competencies, “global mindset”) do IBTs, members of global virtual teams, short-term assignees, international business commuters and/or international rotational assignees need?
  • What is the impact of these alternative forms of global work on employee health (e. g. stress, burnout) or employee work attitudes (e.g. job satisfaction, organisational commitment or turnover intention)?
  • To what extent do personality traits, competencies/abilities, organisational support (e.g. training), etc. impact on the relationship between alternative forms of global work (e.g. commuter assignments) and employee health (e.g. stress, burnout), employee work attitudes (e.g. job satisfaction, organisational commitment or turnover intention)?
  • How can the above phenomena inform global career theory and organizational policies and practices?

Submission Process and Timeline

To be considered for the special issue, manuscripts must be submitted no later than 15.09.2015. Submitted papers will undergo a double-blind review process and will be evaluated by at least two reviewers and a special issue editor. The final acceptance is dependent on the review team’s judgments of the paper’s contribution on four key dimensions:

  1. Theoretical contribution: Does the article offer novel and innovative insights or meaningfully extend existing theory in the field of global mobility?
  2. Empirical contribution: Does the article offer novel findings and are the research design and data analysis rigorous and appropriate in testing the hypotheses or research questions?
  3. Practical contribution: Does the article contribute to the improved management of global mobility?
  4. Contribution to the special issue topic

Authors should prepare their manuscripts for blind review according to the Journal of Global Mobility author guidelines, available at www.emeraldinsight.com/jgm.htm. Please remove any information that may potentially reveal the identity of the authors to the reviewers. Manuscripts should be submitted electronically at: http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/jgmob

For enquiries regarding the special issue please contact Maike Andresen ([email protected]).

References

Aalto, A.-M., Heponiemi, T., Väänänen, A., Bergbom, B., Sinervo, T., & Elovainio, M. (2014). Is working in culturally diverse working environment associated with physicians’ work-related well-being? A cross-sectional survey study among Finnish physicians. Health Policy, vol. 117 no. 2, 187-194.

Baruch, Y., Dickmann, M., Altman, Y. and Bournois, F. (2013). Exploring International Work: Types and Dimensions of Global Careers. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, Special Issue on International HRM. Vol 24(12): 2369-2393

Bhanugopan, R., & Fish, A. (2006). An empirical investigation of job burnout among expatriates. Personnel Review, vol. 35 no. 4, 449-468

Brookfield Global Relocation Services (2014). Global mobility trends survey report. Woodridge, IL. URL: http://www.brookfieldgrs.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/toolbox.v.2/GMTS_201…

CARTUS (2014). Global mobility policy and practices. Survey executive summary report. URL: http://guidance.cartusrelocation.com/rs/cartus/images/2014_Global_Mobil…

Collings, D., Scullion, H., & Morley, M. (2007). Changing patterns of global staffing in the multinational enterprise: Challenges to the conventional expatriate assignment and emerging alternatives. Journal of World Business, vol. 42 no. 2, 198-213. doi:10.1016/j.jwb.2007.02.005

Copeland, A. (2009). Voices from home: The personal and family side of international short-term assignments. Brookline, MA: The Interchange Institute.

Demel, B., & Mayrhofer, W. (2010). Frequent business travelers across Europe: Career aspirations and implications. Thunderbird International Business Review, vol. 52 no. 4, pp. 301-311.

Dowling, P., & Welch, D. (2004). International human resource management: Managing people in a global context (4th ed.), London: Thomson Learning.

Hudson, S., & Inkson, K. (2006). Volunteer overseas development workers: the hero’s adventure and personal transformation. Career Development International, vol. 11 no. 4, pp. 304-320.

Konopaske, R., Robie, C., & Ivancevich, J. M. (2009). Managerial willingness to assume traveling, short-term and long-term global assignments. Management International Review, vol. 49 no. 3, pp. 359-387.

Lauver, K. J., & Kristof-Brown, A. (2001). Distinguishing between employees’ perceptions of person–job and person–organization fit. Journal of Vocational Behavior, vol. 59 no. 3, 454-470.

Mayrhofer, W., & Scullion, H. (2002). Female expatriates in international business: Empirical evidence from the German clothing industry. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, vol. 13, pp. 815-836.

McElroy, J. C., Rodriguez, J. M., Griffin, G. C., Morrow, P. C., & Wilson, M. G. (1993). Career stage, time spent on the road, and truckload driver attitudes. Transportation Journal (American Society of Transportation & Logistics Inc), vol. 33 no. 1), 5-14.

Meyskens, M., Von Glinow, M. A., Werther, W. B., & Clarke, L. (2009). The paradox of international talent: alternative forms of international assignments. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, vol. 20 no. 6, pp. 1439-1450.

Podsakoff, N. P., LePine, J. A., & LePine, M. A. (2007). Differential challenge stressor-hindrance stressor relationships with job attitudes, turnover intentions, turnover, and withdrawal behavior: A meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, vol. 92 no. 2.

Ragin, C. (1987). The comparative method: Moving beyond qualitative and quantitative strategies. Berkley, CA: University of California Press.

Silbiger, A., & Pines, A.M. (2014). Expatriate stress and burnout. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, vol. 25 no.8, pp. 1170-1183.

Starr, T. L. (2009). Repatriation and short-term assignments: an exploration into expectations, change and dilemmas. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, vol. 20 no. 2, pp. 286-300

Starr, T. L., & Currie, G. (2009). ‘Out of sight but still in the picture’: short-term international assignments and the influential role of family. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, vol. 20 no. 6, pp. 1421-1438.

Thibault, L. (2009). Globalization of Sport: An Inconvenient Truth. Journal of Sport Management, vol. 23 no. 1, pp. 1-20.

Welch, D., Worm, V., & Fenwick, M. (2003). Are virtual international assignments feasible? In K. Macharzina (Hrsg.), mir: Management International Review, vol. 1, pp. 95-114.

Welch, D. E., Welch, L. S., & Worm, V. (2007). The international business traveller: a neglected but strategic human resource. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, vol. 18 no. 2, pp. 173-183.

Westman, M., Etzion, D., & Gattenio, E. (2008). International business travels and the work-family interface: A longitudinal study. Journal of Occupational & Organizational Psychology, vol. 81 no. 2, pp. 459-480.