فرصتهای شغلی بین المللی برندینگ: تجزیه و تحلیل جمله بندی های رسمی شرکت های چندملیتی
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : European Management Journal, Volume 30, Issue 1, February 2012, Pages 18–31
This paper concentrates on the official website wordings of companies addressing international work and careers. To our knowledge we conducted the first study analysing large companies’ websites to explore their wordings, concepts and attraction mechanisms with respect to international mobility and global careers. The webpages of 67 German and French top companies listed in the DAX30 and CAC40 were investigated. The results show that 37 firms refer to international work on their websites but most focus on operational issues regarding international experience and expatriation rather than on global careers. Moreover, the target groups for international work differed between French and German companies. French MNCs pursued an elite approach concentrating on high-potential managers, young graduates and experienced managers. German firms focused on motivated individuals who wanted to build their skills and knowledge in a functional career approach. It seems that MNCs for both countries exported their national career systems. Lastly, the study presents organisational and individual benefits in terms of the intelligent career concept as highlighted on websites. The discussion shows that companies are focusing on exposing knowing-how and are neglecting knowing-whom and knowing-why benefits of international work. Academic, managerial and social implications are discussed and propositions are presented in the conclusions.
Globalisation is widely regarded as a prime catalyst for international assignments. International business activities are still growing and the international expansion of investment flows has continued (UNCTAD, 2009). Despite some potential disadvantages (such as costs and risks) associated with international assignments (Selmer, 1998) global careers are important for both organizations and individuals (Larsen, 2004). According to a recent International Assignments Survey (Mercer, 2008) expatriate employee numbers have largely grown and organizations see value in expatriate assignments. Moreover, the long-running GMAC survey (2008) showed that two-thirds of companies had increased their international assignee numbers and 68% of its corporate respondents expected an increase in expatriate numbers even during the midst of the post-2007 financial crisis. Moreover, Dickmann and Baruch (2011) argue that the number of companies expanding internationally and using expatriates is increasing – the phenomenon of international mobility is likely to remain important for some while yet. However, little is known about how major multinational corporations brand their own aims and the individual benefits that they see arising from international work. Employer branding is about all the efforts in building a desirable place to work for both prospective and current employees (Backhaus & Tikoo, 2004). Schuler and Tarique (2007) note the importance of employer branding and of becoming an employer of global choice for MNCs in ensuring a supply of appropriate talent (Scullion, Collings, & Gunnigle, 2007). We suggest that international career branding is a crucial issue from a global talent management perspective (Tarique & Schuler, 2010). Much recent research has concentrated on the individual approaches to global careers with the exploration of identity changes and network effects having received attention (Khapova, Arthur, & Wilderom, 2007). While there are also emerging studies that look at the individual and the organizational context (Dickmann & Doherty, 2010), they tend to utilise survey evidence, internal company documents or interview data geared to their internal staff. Little, however, is systematically known about how large MNCs have officially reacted to these developments vis-à-vis their external audience. Nowadays extensively used for recruiting talents (Parry & Tyson, 2008), organizational websites also constitute a tool for corporate branding and public relations (Winter, Saunders, & Hart, 2003). In this sense, corporate websites represent an under-estimated source for the development of interesting research. To our knowledge we conducted the first study analysing large companies’ websites to explore their wordings, concepts and attraction mechanisms with respect to international mobility and global careers. Exploring the international career messages on the websites of major MNCs will add to our insights about career as a social and business phenomenon in the globalised economy. It will also emphasize the kind of official “international mobility” discourse employed by MNCs, i.e. understanding how companies promote international mobility issues on-line. The literature review below refines the concept of global careers, distinguishing between global management, international work and careers. It also explores the corporate branding literature. After presenting the methodology, we explore the official concept of international work as exposed on MNCs’ websites. We also investigate the wording companies use to justify and attract candidates to international mobility and careers. We then discuss individual and organizational implications of our survey.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Within the context of rapid globalisation of international business and boundaryless careers this study has explored how large MNCs use their websites to formulate messages regarding international careers. Despite a perceived shortness of adequate candidates for international work (GMAC, 2008), almost half of the largest German and French publicly quoted companies do not cover international work or career issues on their webpages. At a time when the internet is seen as an ever more important medium and when many companies have started to use it as a branding tool (Winter et al., 2003), this neglect in the area of global careers by so many large MNCs is surprising. Some of the explanations include that these companies simply are not able to use the new electronic media to its capacity in terms of employer branding, are able to attract sufficient numbers of high potential and internationally mobile people without covering international work issues in their external communication or that they are unsure regarding the messages that they would like to present to an external audience. Our research did not set out to investigate these issues but further studies – not using a web-based method – might fruitfully explore this. First, our analysis shows that most MNCs had a concept of international experience, international assignments and expatriation and did not use global career or international career expressions. This short-term view does not focus on strategic issues and global careers emphasized recently by the literature (Dickmann et al., 2008; Stahl & Cerdin, 2004). This indicates that firms are indeed still thinking in expatriation rather than global career terms, even though many perceived problems in expatriation are intimately linked to the failure of companies to plan long term (Harris et al., 2003). This leads to the following proposition: multinational companies use words relating to international assignment on a short-time basis, not outlining the potential impact on individuals’ careers. It seems that the recommendations of academics need to be either transferred through different channels, that companies need more time to implement them or that MNCs consciously reject the academic advice. Not following these recommendations might constitute a risk to the resourcing strategies (primarily attraction and retention of talented individuals) of MNCs and provides nuances to the effectiveness of organizations (e.g. built on the resource-based view) and theories of modern careers (cf. Gunz & Peiperl, 2007). Second, the choice of words and meanings also showed that the nature of the message changes between French and German MNCs. The explored target groups for international work differed in that German firms outlined the motivation, skills and abilities needed for expatriation while French companies targeted young graduates, experienced managers and an elite of high-potentials. Evans et al. (1989) outline a variety of career systems predominant in different countries. German MNCs are likely to design a functional career system and French MNCs a political and elitist career approach. The German focus on motivation and competencies fits to the functional ‘silo’ career patterns (Ferner & Varul, 1999). Targeting high-potentials, young graduates and experienced managers who are likely to have successfully manoeuvred the political context of the organization might be an indication that the elitist career in French MNCs extends to the global domain. The comparatively shorter time international work orientation endorsed on French in comparison to German websites might be explained by the higher need of creating and preserving networks in a more political context. When compared to the dominant career systems in the two countries (Evans et al., 2011) and the way that the HRM system elements work and interact with each other (Ferner and Varul, 1999 and Parry et al., 2008) it is interesting to note how much of a domestic people management approach is reflected in the global career wordings on the MNCs’ websites. This leads to our second proposition: cross-national differences in international careers (including functional and political patterns) impact corporate branding strategies. This raises important questions for modern career theory and the discussion regarding agency and structure ( Lawrence and Tolbert, 2007 and Nicholson, 2007). Much of the global career literature seems to start from a general premise and formulates general recommendations. Our findings indicate for global careers that the country-context needs to be factored in. In a parallel to the distinct, yet interrelated fields of comparative and international HRM (Dickmann et al., 2008) it may mean that a field of comparative global career research emerges. Further studies might usefully investigate these interactions and the different concepts of global careers in different countries and their social effects through in-depth case studies. Third, our research emphasized how companies word the benefits of international work. The findings link well to some of the origins of the intelligent career concept that drew parallels to organizational capabilities expressed through culture, knowledge management and organizational networks (DeFillippi & Arthur, 1994). The MNCs exposed a range of benefits of international work for the organization, including recruiting and retaining the best people, leadership development, building global networks, increasing knowledge transfer, creating a shared group identity and culture as well as establishing global presence and corporate success or excellence. These include all the classical organizational drivers for expatriation developed by Edström and Galbraith (1977) and incorporate additionally a knowledge management perspective (Dickmann et al., 2008). Interestingly, in terms of individual advantages the companies depict far less than those that are available in the literature. Strikingly, only a few companies mention more than one or two individual benefits and some none at all, again indicating that MNCs do not use their websites to full effect in terms of attracting candidates. This leads to a third proposition: companies value international assignments for their own benefit and tend to ignore the potential benefit for individuals. Furthermore, Rynes and Barber (1990) highlight three overall strategies for enhancing individual applications and corporate attractiveness: recruitment practices (messages, sources), employment inducements and applicant pools. To attract better candidates for international assignments, companies should consider all of these. First, corporate websites itself may be taken into consideration and can help sending the “right” message to the candidates; companies that are proactive in the use of the internet may benefit from it (Williamson, Lepak, & King, 2003). Second, companies should consider international assignments as part of the set of expectations of candidates. Considering that international mobility is often part of the psychological contract (Suutari and Taka, 2004 and Yan et al., 2002), going global and gaining global competences can constitute a target for candidates. Thus, they expect to be highly mobile, getting many different missions in many different countries (Mäkelä & Suutari, 2009). Third, companies should consider non-traditional applicants. None of the companies studied in our sample explicitly mentioned women as potential applicants for expatriation. This leads us to present a fourth proposition: Multinational companies’ internet discourse does not specifically address women and young candidates in the realm of international assignments. Considering that the number of expatriate women is around the 20 percent mark (Dickmann & Baruch, 2011), women are still underrepresented in this area. By increasing the emphasis on women and youth as potential international assignees, companies could enhance their pool of candidates and increase their attractiveness. By highlighting international assignments policies and issues, companies increase the amount of information available to the applicants through their websites. In this sense, companies may manipulate their own image (showing they consider global HR issues) which in turn may benefit the organisation and increase the number of applicants (Gatewood, Gowan, & Lautenschlager, 1993). In other words, companies tend to influence the meaning construction of external candidates toward a preferred definition of international mobility. Our results suggest that the discourse of companies either ignores the benefits of international assignments or exaggerates them. Moreover, companies emphasize an operational view of international assignments on their websites, covering short-term issues and concentrating on underlying work practices or tools. International assignments are not framed at the strategic level. One way of moving from the operational to the strategic discourse would be to fully consider the benefits of international assignments in terms of career capital; given the fact that the three forms of knowing are rarely mentioned in corporate websites, the career capital approach may help to rethink the international assignment corporate discourse. In a rapidly globalizing world this omission does not fit well to modern career theory, especially the boundaryless career approach. Where the company does not live up to its promises and/or does not facilitate the career capital accumulation of individuals in all areas, it may be confronted with dysfunctional outcomes (Dickmann & Doherty, 2010). As outlined above, the consistency of corporate branding, careers discourse and internal policies and processes is important. While our research clearly explicates the value to understand the complex interactions of corporate branding and global careers and identifies the gap between current career theory and organizational discourse, an in-depth case study method would be needed to explore the non-alignment of rhetoric with reality in the firms. These promising results may lead to further research involving company websites. Primarily, the branding strategy should be better explored; by interviewing people in charge of the content of the websites to better understand the company’s branding strategy. Additionally, given the fact that candidates are very likely to visit the website of the company they are interested in, one can investigate the candidates’ expectations in terms of international mobility information and research the candidates’ perception. Overall, international assignment official wording is only one part about how companies can brand themselves on-line and this needs further exploration. The analysis of written texts has a number of well-known limitations. First, our survey is based on a web-based discourse; this is the official wording (what companies are more likely to publish on-line) and not the reality. Second, further investigations on a longitudinal basis should be conducted because the content of the websites are changing on a regular basis. Third, our sample concerns the top French and German companies quoted on their national stock exchange; this is also the largest companies based in France and in Germany. The sample is not large enough to consider further variables such as size, sector or degree of transnationalisation (as defined by UNCTAD, 2009). The researchers urge the readers to bear these three main limitations in mind when interpreting the data. Overall, most MNCs’ websites refer to knowing-how with knowing-whom and knowing-why relatively neglected. This extends recent research by Dickmann and Doherty (2008) that finds that their case companies do not have extensive policies and practices to address social networking in international work. The impact of international work on individuals’ identities and their networks (Cappellen and Janssens, 2008 and Dickmann and Harris, 2005) can be substantial. Our research questions the presence of global careers as part of the corporate branding strategy and the official discourse of corporations. It is able to give valuable insights at a time where the commitment, identification and social networks of knowledge workers is highly important for both organizations and individuals (Khapova et al., 2007). Yet, many companies still seem not to take advantage of promoting and branding international careers effectively. In the coming years, it will probably become a crucial issue in the employer branding field (Backhaus & Tikoo, 2004) in order to enhance organizational attractiveness and attract global talents at international level.