Hiring and then deploying people to positions where they can perform effectively
is a goal of most organizations, whether domestic or international. Recruitment is
defined as searching for and obtaining potential job candidates in sufficient numbers
and quality so that the organization can select the most appropriate people to
fill its job needs. Selection is the process of gathering information for the purposes
of evaluating and deciding who should be employed in particular jobs. It is important
to note that recruitment and selection are discrete processes and both
processes need to operate effectively if the firm is effectively to manage its staffing
process. For example, a firm may have an excellent selection system for evaluating
candidates but if there are insufficient candidates to evaluate then this selection system
is less than effective. Both processes must operate effectively for optimal
staffing decisions to be made. We shall return to this point later in the chapter.
Some of the major differences between domestic and international staffing are
first that many firms have predispositions with regard to who should hold key positions
in headquarters and subsidiaries (i.e. ethnocentric, polycentric, regiocentric
and geocentric staffing orientations) and second, the constraints imposed by host
governments (e.g. immigration rules with regard to work visas and the common
Chapter Objectives
The focus of this chapter is on recruitment and selection activities
in an international context. We will address the following issues:
● The myth of the global manager.
● The debate surrounding expatriate failure.
● Factors moderating intent to stay or leave the international
● Selection criteria for international assignments.
● Dual career couples.
● Are female expatriates different?
Recruiting and selecting
staff for international
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requirement in most countries to require evidence as to why local nationals
should not be employed rather than hiring foreigners) which can severely limit the
firm’s ability to hire the right candidate. In addition, as Scullion and Collings1 note,
most expatriates are recruited internally rather than externally, so the task of
persuading managers (particularly if they are primarily working in a domestic
environment) to recommend and/or agree to release their best employees for international
assignments remains a key issue for international HR managers.
In this chapter, we will explore the key issues surrounding international recruitment
and selection, with a focus on selection criteria. Implicit in much of the discussion
and research about selecting staff for international assignments is that
there are common attributes shared by persons who have succeeded in operating
in other cultural work environments – that is, the so-called global manager. Our
discussion on this topic centers around four myths: that there is a universal
approach to management; that all people can acquire appropriate behaviors; there
are common characteristics shared by global managers; and there are no impediments
to global staff mobility. We then consider various factors – such as expatriate
failure, selection criteria, dual career couples and gender – that impact on the
multinational’s ability to recruit and select high calibre staff for deployment internationally.
For convenience, we will use the term ‘multinational’ throughout this
chapter, but it is important to remember that the issues pertain variously to all
internationalizing companies – regardless of size, industry, stage in internationalization,
nationality of origin and geographical diversity. We continue to use the
term expatriate to include all three categories: PCNs (parent-country nationals),
TCNs (third country nationals) and HCNs (host-country nationals) transferred into
headquarters’ operations, although much of the literature on expatriate selection
is focused only on PCNs.
Issues in staff selection
The myth of the global manager
Multinationals depend on being able to develop a pool of international operators
from which they can draw as required. Such individuals have been variously
labeled ‘international managers’ or ‘global managers’. The concept of a global
manager appears to be based on the following myths or assumptions.
Myth 1: there is a universal approach to management. The view that there is a
universal approach to management persists, despite evidence from research to the
contrary, and many multinationals continue to transfer home-based work practices
into their foreign operations without adequate consideration as to whether this is
an appropriate action. The persistence of a belief in universal management may
be evidence of a lingering ethnocentric attitude or perhaps an indicator of inexperience
in international operations. However, as we discussed in Chapter 1 in
relation to the convergence–divergence debate, work practices have, to a certain
extent, converged through the transfer of technology and ‘best practice’ and this
process is supported by the global spread of management education programs
that reflect the dominant Western approach to management. Linked to this
process is the belief in the power of organizational culture as a moderator of
cultural differences in the work setting.