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The top twenty-first-century manager

From the viewpoint of the persons being considered for transfer, studies advocate that two specific factors – in addition to a strong personal interest in the foreign experience, typically based on having previously enjoyed living overseas – are primary in their decisions to take on such an assignment: increased pay and improved career mobility. This suggests the significance of paying close attention to these factors while making the selections for overseas positions.

From the company side, increasingly the problem of selection of managers entails finding managers with the needed skills to function successfully in the new “global” environment. In the words ...

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...of two MNE executives (Howard, 1992): “The top twenty-first-century manager must have multi-environment, multicountry, multifunctional, multi-company, multi-industry experience,” according to Ed Dunn, corporate vice president of Whirlpool Corporation.

Michael Angus, chairman of nilever, adds, “Most people who rise toward the top of our business will have worked in at least two countries, probably three. They will probably speak another language and they most certainly will have worked in diverse product areas. “(Howard, 1992) Selection decisions that are allied with corporate strategy and goals are becoming more common. As more firms go global, IHR faces increasing complexities in their role of recognizing and developing talent, including those sent on international assignments.

Although the strategies of different MNEs vary, successful global firms link their global staffing decisions with their global business goals. The more significant the international strategy and the more complex the structure developed to execute that strategy, the more critical are the choices that the enterprise makes to staff its international operations. Selection decisions also require considering the receiving manager and location.

Successful international assignments make demands not simply on the overseas assignment but on the sending manager and company as well as the receiving manager and company. Often the sending manager has never lived or worked outside his or her own country and, as a result, does not have a clear idea of what it takes to handle an international assignment. Receiving managers can have the same problem – they have not worked at headquarters or elsewhere outside their home countries and they do not recognize what strengths it takes for a successful manager assignment.

The sending company, itself, can pessimistically impact the chances for overseas assignment success, as well, through its insistence on explicit forms and timing of results that are drawn from the domestic experience and might not fit the overseas situation. The specific criterion an MNE uses to select its overseas assignment s has a lot to do with their future success in the foreign assignment.

First, this section takes a look at a number of criterions that are used by various firms to select their overseas assignments. Then the section examines the consequences of making mistakes in either choosing overseas assignments or in preparing and supporting those in their assignments or helping they make a successful return to home. The majority firms base their choices for international assignments on the candidates’ technical expertise (Solomon, 1994).

That is, the primary focus is on their capability to perform the target job requirements. Nevertheless, at least in smaller and medium-sized American firms, the supervisor typically makes the choice of individual to be sent on an international assignment and that choice is typically based on the individual’s perceived ability to fill a perceived (and usually immediate) functional or technical require in the foreign operation (Donegan, 2002).

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