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2021 | Book

Becoming an International Manager

Identity Work by Managerial International Assignees from Emerging Markets

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About this book

The book discusses international assignment-related decision-making by emerging market firms and their employees. It reveals that the ongoing, reciprocal interactions between the organisational and individual discourses, structures, processes, and the wider macro context spark multilevel role transitions and identity work. The book uncovers the macro-, meso-, and micro-level factors of role transitions and identity work, as well as their outcomes for international staffing. It also expands on the role (transition), social categorisation, and social identity theories by applying them to international staffing. Finally, it presents practical insights for international human resources managers by presenting several 'soft' approaches to managing international employee mobility, such as employer branding, prioritisation of favourable discourses and identities, and encouraging role hybridisation.

Table of Contents

Frontmatter
Chapter 1. Introduction
Abstract
International assignments have increased in both scale and scope over the last few decades. However, they have remained largely under-exploited for business internationalisation purposes: especially in emerging market contexts. This chapter outlines the main trends related to international assignments together with their different formats, roles, and employee segments engaged in them. It also discusses how the changed firm–employee relations reflect in international employee mobility and vice versa. It identifies the deficiencies in international assignment research and highlights the lack of an in-depth explanation of emerging market firms’ and their employees’ assignment implementation- and management-related choices as determined by multilevel factors as one of the main shortages of international assignment literature. It then defines the focus of the monograph, the research objectives, and the methodological approach used in the empirical study (together with its limitations). It also outlines the theories employed in the study to explain the multilevel interactions among the variables and contexts of international staffing in emerging markets and emerging market firms. It concludes with a summary of the main contributions presented in the monograph and an outline of its structure.
Iris Koleša
Chapter 12. Conclusion
Abstract
This chapter summarises the main messages from the monograph. It recaps the strengths and limitations of the methodological approach used in the empirical study, as well as outlines the multilevel results of the study from both theoretical and practical perspectives. The chapter concludes with suggestions for future research.
Iris Koleša
Chapter 13. Tools and Surveys Used for Research
Abstract
This chapter introduces some of the survey instruments and tools used for the empirical study presented in the monograph. It starts with a glossary of key terms. It then presents the details of selection criteria used at the individual, firm, and country levels. Case firm and interviewee descriptions in a tabular form follow. The chapter also includes interview guides used during firm- and individual-level interviews. Finally, selected quotes from the interviews by themes and topics previously highlighted in the monograph are provided for illustrative purposes.
Iris Koleša

Part I

Frontmatter
Chapter 2. Emerging Market Firms’ Competitive Advantages and Internationalisation Patterns
Abstract
Emerging market firms are marked with their countries of origin. These influence the competitive advantages that emerging market firms can develop and the strategies they need to employ in order to do so. The chapter outlines the strategies that emerging market firms most frequently utilise in order to capitalise on the domestic capital market imperfections and develop their particular ownership advantages. It also highlights the knowledge-based advantages they can leverage despite experiencing significant knowledge gaps regarding foreign markets. It moreover lists the competitive advantages of emerging market firms stemming from relationship management. Finally, it describes the typical internationalisation patterns identified by past research for emerging market firms.
Iris Koleša
Chapter 3. Human Resources Management in Emerging Markets and by Emerging Market Firms
Abstract
How successful emerging market firms are in their internationalisation to either other emerging or developed markets largely depends on their staffing practices. Emerging market firms face several challenges both domestically and internationally in this respect. The chapter highlights some of these challenges, including the lack of skilled employees in emerging markets, short internationalisation history and inexperience in internationalisation at firm and individual levels, limited opportunities for indirect learning about internationalisation, a negative country of origin image and the related domestic and international employee recruitment and retention issues. It also briefly addresses how these challenges are reflected in emerging market firms’ international staffing practices, such as putting the focus on local talent recruitment process or searching for alternative international staffing practices to address the deficiencies in domestic and international labour markets.
Iris Koleša

Part II

Frontmatter
Chapter 4. International Assignment-Related Challenges for Emerging Market Firms by Growth Stages
Abstract
The chapter focuses on the main issues related to international assignment implementation and management faced by diverse emerging market firms together with specific managerial approaches to addressing them at different stages of firm growth and internationalisation and determinants thereof. It presents the results from pilot interviews conducted with two sole proprietors (i.e. micro firms), a representative of a business accelerator, and representatives of two startups, one high-tech small and medium-sized enterprise, two large, mature emerging market multinationals (one manufacturing and one service firm), and a developed market subsidiary operating in a small emerging market (i.e. Slovenia). The findings show that emerging market firms face the following challenges when it comes to international staffing: (1) the lack of experience in international employee mobility at the firm and individual levels that results in an experimental approach to assignment implementation and management, (2) a limited pool of assignment experienced, willing, or ready employees that necessitates an individualised, narrative approach to managing expatriation, and (3) the lack of resources for (strategic) international assignment implementation and management that result in cost optimisation strategies (including investments in employer branding and relationship building, the introduction of alternative assignment formats, and information hiding). Although more pronounced for the smaller and internationally less experienced firms, these challenges persist in larger and more mature emerging market firms as well.
Iris Koleša
Chapter 5. International Assignment-Related Challenges for Emerging Market Firms by Assignment Format
Abstract
Assigning firms from emerging markets tend to use a limited number of different international assignment formats. These mostly involve traditional short-term project-based and long-term managerial assignments. Based on the data from pilot interviews in two startups, one high-tech small and medium-sized enterprise, two large, mature emerging market multinationals (one manufacturing and one service firm), and a developed market subsidiary operating in Slovenia, this chapter discusses the different assignment formats used by emerging market firms at the different stages of their growth and internationalisation, the related managerial challenges for each assignment format, and how emerging market firms tackle them. Additional assignment formats, such as expatriation of sole proprietors employed by emerging market firms to preserve good firm–employee and inter-employee relations as well as broaden the pool of potential assignees and optimise assignment-related costs, are also discussed.
Iris Koleša
Chapter 6. International Staffing Approaches to International Assignment Challenges by Emerging Market Multinationals
Abstract
In this chapter, I provide an overview of firm-level results from a comparative case study conducted in two large, mature emerging market multinational enterprises (Firm A and Firm B). I aim to identify the international staffing approaches these firms employ in response to the challenges presented to them by the emerging market context and establish why they approach international staffing in a particular way, what types of international employee mobilities they choose to use, and how they manage managerial international assignments. I first present the characteristics of the two sample firms. I then present the international staffing approaches used in these firms for top managerial posts across their networks as well as the shifts in these approaches during the 2012–2017 period for which detailed data on individual managers’ international transfers is available in the firms’ annual reports (see Sect. 6.1). I continue the chapter with a discourse analysis that provides insights into firm-level rationalisations of the international staffing strategies and practices by emerging market firms (see Sect. 6.2). An outline of the types of international employee mobilities that such firms employ (according to duration, purpose, direction, location, and category of host entity) follows (see Sect. 6.3). The chapter ends with a presentation of the main challenges related to managing managerial international assignments and the organisational responses to them (see Sect. 6.4).
Iris Koleša

Part III

Frontmatter
Chapter 7. Short-Term International Assignment Challenges for Emerging Market Firm Employees
Abstract
Short-term international assignees face different challenges in terms of role transitioning and identity work related to their international employee mobilities for emerging market firms compared to those experienced by long-term international assignees. In this chapter, I outline some of the specificities of short-term assignees’ role transitions and identity work as identified through pilot interviews with two sole proprietors, startup representatives, a representative of a business accelerator, a high-tech small and medium-sized enterprise, two large, mature emerging market multinationals (one manufacturing and one service firm), and a developed market subsidiary operating in Slovenia. The results indicate that these assignees have a reduced need for integration into the host environments as well as adjustment of their extant roles and identities. Often, their expertise (and, when applicable, headquarters origin) is sufficient grounds for establishing their role legitimacy abroad.
Iris Koleša
Chapter 8. Long-Term Managerial Assignment Challenges as Experienced by Assignees
Abstract
This chapter summarises the findings of the individuals’ experience of managerial international assignment implementation and management in large, mature emerging market multinationals. It outlines the differences and similarities in managerial international assignment implementation and management challenges faced by assignee segments. It thereby distinguishes between internal and external recruits, managerial and non-managerial recruits, and junior and senior recruits for these assignments. The results show that the polar types of assignees by each segment engage in different preparatory, on-site, and repatriation adjustments due to their diverse backgrounds and thus require different organisational and collegial support for the assignment. They also indicate that some of the segments, such as junior and non-managerial recruits, may coincide and either reinforce or counteract the effects of each other’s characteristics on the individuals’ experience and implementation of their international mobility. Each individual-level case with its specificities is first briefly discussed. Cross-case findings with their practical implications for managing the different assignee segments of international assignees are then summarised. A particular emphasis is put on role shifts and identity work experienced by individuals throughout the international assignment process (i.e. before, during, and after international mobility) as well as the organisational and colleagues’ support (or lack thereof) for this. Sect. 8.1 presents the findings for each individual-level case, whereas Sect. 8.2 discusses the similarities and differences by assignee segment.
Iris Koleša

Part IV

Frontmatter
Chapter 9. Multilevel Factors of International Assignment Implementation and Management in EMNEs
Abstract
Based on the findings from the empirical study presented in the previous chapters, this chapter discusses the interactions between the multilevel determinants of international assignment implementation and management in emerging market multinationals. It first outlines the emerging market specifics determining international staffing in emerging market firms and how this is experienced by emerging market firms’ employees (see Sect. 9.1). It then discusses how the organisational context (especially the organisational structure) impacts firm-level and individual-level international staffing discourses, strategies, and practices (see Sect. 9.2). Next, it explains how individuals’ features influence the international staffing approaches in emerging market firms (see Sect. 9.3). The chapter then discusses the individuals’ role transitions, modes and types of identity work at different stages of international assignments and by assignee segments as determined by organisational discourses (see Sect. 9.4). Finally, the limitations of the study and opportunities for future research are outlined (see Sect. 9.5).
Iris Koleša
Chapter 10. Clashes of Interests Versus Clashes of Identities: Theory on Firm–Employee Interactions During International Assignments
Abstract
This chapter focuses on the interactions between mezzo and micro levels of analysis: i.e. it discusses the firm–employee relationship in terms of the clashes of interests and identities. The results from my empirical study demonstrate that the clashes in interests within and across levels of analysis and the related multilevel narratives trigger identity work at the level of the individual. I thus first discuss how agency theory, which deals with the principal–agent relationships, conflicts about priorities by different parties to these relationships, and the related power struggles, can inform the impact of multilevel narratives on assignment outcomes for inter-employee, inter-assignee, inter-entity, and firm–employee collaboration (see Sect. 10.1). Since role transitions, social categorisation, and identity work are featured more prominently in the study, these are the focal part of my theorising and, as such, the primary theoretical contribution of the empirical study. In the second part of the chapter (i.e. Sect. 10.2), I therefore discuss how my findings contribute to role (transition), social categorisation, and social identity theories by showing the particularities of role transitions, social categorisation, and identity work for international assignees (and to a limited extent their colleagues and business partners) and their implications for international assignment management in the context of emerging market firms.
Iris Koleša
Chapter 11. Guidelines for Practitioners: Emphasis on Narrative Work and Relationship Building
Abstract
The results of the multilevel cross-case qualitative analyses have several practical implications for international assignment implementation and management by EMNEs and their employees, such as (1) a need for enhanced organisational communication aimed at raising awareness about the international employee mobility-related opportunities for and necessary adjustments by an individual as well as how these are linked to the organisational objectives, (2) a need for investments in firm–employee and inter-employee relations aimed at increasing employee commitment to an assignment (including in the form of collegial support for an assignment), (3) a need for the greater gradualness of the international assignment adjustment process, (4) a need for organisational flexibility in terms of assignee recruitment as well as assignment management through the different stages of an assignment (this needs to be either individualised or adapted to different assignee segments), and (5) the importance of (support for) role transitioning and identity work. These implications are explained in more depth in this chapter.
Iris Koleša
Metadata
Title
Becoming an International Manager
Author
Ph.D. Iris Koleša
Copyright Year
2021
Electronic ISBN
978-3-030-87395-0
Print ISBN
978-3-030-87394-3
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-87395-0

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