& Alvarez (1998) also outlined some possible causes that contribute to the
problems arising with the reintegration of internationally assigned employees.
First of all, the authors explained that those often result in out-of-sight/ out-of-mind situations.
Black (1991) defined these situations as “not to kept up-to-date by
changes back home”. Such settings can create administrative and personal
distance to the home-office. On the one hand employees are no longer supported
by the domestic HR Team but by an international unknown HR Team. On the other
hand, employees might sense a physical distance to their colleagues as they
were removed from formal and informal communication channels and may also not
have a visibility for new job opportunities within their home countries office.
Moreover, when returning home, expatriates might experience a hostile reception
from their colleagues (Allen & Alvarez, 1998).
stated, repatriates develop a certain amount of expectations when reentering,
which one of them might be the perception that their international experience
will be valued. Most assigned employees report that they were disappointed as
they did not receive this level of recognition (Allen & Alvarez, 1998).
cause is the planning procedure of international assignments. Often there is a
lack of job opportunities to be offered to repatriates, where they can implement
their newly achieved knowledge. The authors state that the first job the
retuning person receives after the assignment is not sufficient to his/ her
capabilities (Allen & Alvarez, 1998). Furthermore, the concerned
persons mentioned that they are only rarely informed that companies have an
interest in placing them in better jobs. This is explained by short-term
planning, where organizations only plan just before employees return and only
few jobs are available. Realizing this Stroh et al. (2000), argue that there is
a strong connection between expectations and organizational commitment. Only if
expectations and a fulfillment of the motives are met, employees remain committed
to the organization.
Possible Improvements of Reintegration – Effective Reintegration
mentioned above reintegration involves many challenges. Firms still campaign to
implement actions and initiatives to guarantee an effective reintegration.
Certainly, such actions are not equally effective on every repatriate or
company. Anyhow researchers specify that pre-planning is an essential part of
the reintegration, as overseas assignments illustrate high levels of
uncertainty and anxiety throughout the whole process (Jassawalla, et al., 2004). Therefore,
pre-planning becomes essential. An effective reintegration postulates that the
expatriates return is being planned before they leave (Poe, 2000). Therefore Jassawalla
et al. (2004) have developed a model for an effective reintegration (Figure 4).
expatriates report that there is a poorly planned design for the international
assignments and that they are rarely provided with information about their tasks
and career advancement by HR managers (Jassawalla, et al., 2004).
prior to departure task clarity, career counseling, and formal policies for repatriation
becomes highly important. Expatriates who are satisfied with their reintegration
often report a high level of clarity about their tasks (Jassawalla, et al., 2004). With other words,
they knew what to do, what was expected and when and how their performance would
be evaluated. Task clarity emerge to be essential because (1) the expatriates
increasing their focus on tasks (2) developing a feeling of accomplishment when
tasks are concluded and (3) reducing their anxiety upon return and establishing
a smooth transition into the home country (Jassawalla, et al., 2004). Moreover, as unclear
task expectations can lead to poor repatriation, a high level of task clarity
can be ensured by the communication of performance expectations like milestones,
deadlines and explaining performance consideration criteria. According to
Jassawalla et al. (2004), there is a
clear link between career counseling and an effective repatriation. Using a
formal career counseling including questions how the assignment suit to the
companies’ goals, how this task can contribute to the firm and how newly gained
knowledge and skills can be transferred into career development, establishes a
guidance for the expatriates. Career counseling can ensure that the expatriate
recognizes the purpose to be sent abroad and defines their benefits and these
arising for the company. Corresponding to Linehan and Scullion (2002), the
presence and quality of policy guidelines for the assignment can increase
expatriates’ adaption. Such policies should cover agreements for pre-visits,
visits and post-visits in the foreign country (Jassawalla, et al., 2004).
the stay, expatriates often lose the connection to the home company and therefore
a sense of isolation can arise. The model of effective reintegration assumes to
reduce such feeling of isolation and strengthens the connection to the home
company. This should be guaranteed by the perception of support while on the
assignment and the nature and frequency of communication. Many expatriates, who
were satisfied with their reintegration, reported to feel supported by their
company being on assignment. However, the presence of support from the home
company did not improve the satisfaction, but the absence of support
significantly enhanced dissatisfaction. For example, if expatriates need to
organize their new accommodation by oneself the level of resentment will be
high (Jassawalla, et al., 2004). Inadequate support increases
their anxiety and dispersed their focus on tasks (Jassawalla, et al., 2004). Consequently, it is
important that companies implement continuous support for ensuring expatriates
wellbeing. Expatriates, who have less communication often feel isolated.
Therefore, regular communication between the expatriate and the home company is
important. Referred to Jassawalla et al. (2004), the maintenance of social
networks in the home company is considered to be favorable. It has been
indicated that frequent communication improves the motivation of the employee,
assures the expatriate of still feeling part of the company and keeps the
expatriate updated to changes in the company, which can result in a feeling of
trust (Jassawalla, et al., 2004).
an assignment of three till five years, the expatriate might feel that the
organization has changed in structures, formal and informal systems. Besides
work related issues also social issues are in concern. Anyhow, these problems
are less significant than the lack of using newly acquired knowledge and skills
(Jassawalla, et al., 2004). Repatriates need to
have access to positions, where their capabilities are recognized and where
they have the same career options like employees who were not on an international
assignment. Therefore, upon return the quality of interaction and the perception
of organizational support becomes essential. Referred to the study of
Jassawalla et al. (2004), expatriates satisfied with their reintegration, often
reported from a sponsor as an important element in the assignment. Jassawalla
et al. defined a sponsor as “a person who has more formal authority (…)
who has a personal stake in the success of the foreign assignment, and who is
vested in the career growth of the returning expatriate” (Jassawalla,
et al., 2004, p. 43). Sponsors are used to look for
opportunities the expatriate can use upon their return. During the assignment
they keep the employee updated of key-decisions in the home company and ensure
that the capabilities of the employee can be used in the home company upon
return. Therefore, sponsors can play an important role, including problem
solving during the assignment and upon return (Jassawalla, et al., 2004).
expatriates feel highly valued in foreign assignments. They tend to enjoy
greater autonomy and are in the center of attention (Paik, et al., 2002). Upon return,
repatriates feel a loss of autonomy, attention, lifestyle and monetary
benefits. Therefore, it should be ensured that the repatriate receives credits
and is recognized for the foreign assignment, is selected for a new assignment
in the home country, can use his/ her new capabilities within the job, can
adjust to the new level of autonomy and responsibilities and can take part in
repatriation programs (Jassawalla, et al., 2004). Consequently, it is
assumed that companies should provide support upon return.
sum up, there are several actions organizations can establish to support an
effective reintegration process. A successful reintegration process is achieved
when the repatriate is satisfied. Consequently, this leads to a reduction of
the issues, indicating an unsuccessful repatriation, such as a lack of
utilization of key employees, loss of employees in most essential functions and
inability to recruit employees into overseas positions.