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.
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The authors discover that the more productive, profitable, and larger firms (in terms of employment) as well as exporters (particularly those with a higher export share in revenue) are more likely to engage in international assignments and do so more frequently (Koleša et al. 2021).
As explained by a business accelerator representative in an informal conversation international mobility by startups mostly pertains to matchmaking, that is, it is focused on establishing a business relationship. Startups thus mostly do not use international assignments in the traditional sense. The startup hub, on the other hand, does have some assignments, but these are not formalised as in most cases long-term PCN assignees become residents of the receiving countries, whereas business trips are not reported even relative to the hub, since this is focused on the end-goal and not the way one achieves it.