All out for mobility

Despite all the talk of globalisation - the multinational companies, the increased flow of capital, goods and information - people remain relatively immobile. Where does such a resistance come from and how can it be alleviated?

by IMD
Last Updated: 23 Jul 2013

Physical restrictions to people movement - visa restrictions, immigration policies, cost of travel - are very real for some individuals, but the biggest barriers are cultural and emotional, says IMD professor Maury Peiperl.

People's attitude to mobility is influenced by their background and can be hard to change. People from countries with a strong trading history and multilingual populations such as Belgium tend to yield more open-minded and cosmopolitan types, something Peiperl calls "an awareness of the world and a positive attitude toward it".

Personality also plays a strong part - curious and inquisitive minds, as well as those good at communicating, will be more inclined to work with different cultures. Companies are always looking for such individuals, but they are also increasingly reluctant to pay a premium for them.

Peiperl predicts that the overall number of company-sponsored expatriates - who generally benefit from comfortable packages, from company housing to free schooling, complimentary flights back to the home country- will start to decline within 10 years. Individuals who want to stay on in their posting will have to do so on local terms.

Instead, companies are on the lookout for what Peiperl calls ‘global professionals' outside the company, often people who are already present in the target market. They could be nationals of that country or foreigners who came there of their volition in search of opportunities.

Peiperl says that all managers should make themselves more internationally minded, by networking within and outside of their company and country. Such skills and exposure will be invaluable since most senior positions now require global experience.

The rewards of increased mobility will not only be good in terms of career progression, they are also likely to benefit individuals more personally by offering a sense of achievement at having worked abroad, better language and interpersonal skills, and new friends.

Source: Are you globally mobile?
Prof Maury Peiperl
Real Learning @ IMD

Review by Emilie Filou

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