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Global - Expatriate, Spouse & Family

Expatriate labor is a crucial factor for firms going global.

1. How much expatriate labor?
2. How long do they stay?
3. What about family issues?
4. How do we "re-patriate"?

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Please see response attached, which is also presented below.

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RESPONSE:

1. Expatriate labor is a crucial factor for firms going global. How much expatriate labor is appropriate? How long do they stay?

The expatriate labor required to properly train the local workers is the goal, and they will stay until the learning process, albeit sometimes slow, is sufficient. For example, services of one or two committed expatriates who are prepared to stay for several years will be much more constructive than several people coming in for shorter durations. Two-year contracts could be too short and staff spends too much time settling in. In the Lesotho program, one advisor stayed 7 years, another 5 1/2, and another for two. (1)

Example: Excerpt

Localization of Staff

When establishing new departments and recruiting staff in developing countries, an appropriate and practical staff structure has to be looked at very carefully. In many countries, during the first years of a project, expatriate assistance will be needed. Ideally this will be withdrawn progressively as the team gains experience and can be run completely by local staff. This is a slow process and can easily require five years or longer.

When to start planning localization
Even in the initial stages localization must be built in. The nature of the work is such that it can never be done quickly and requires long lead times for pilot phases, research and evaluation. Going from the initial stages of pilot work into a national program will require consistent government commitment, aided by external support, staff training and workshops.

Providing assistance
Fundamental to localization is allowing the local staff to do their jobs with support and advice, and without continual interference from expatriates who think they could do the job better.

Transition period
It is important that the local staff occupy their posts with full responsibilities for several years, while expatriates may or may not be around as advisors. It is impractical to have an expatriate run the program and then expect a local manager to take over after a short transitional period.

Continuity of expatriates
Services of one or two committed expatriates who are prepared to stay for several years will be much more constructive than several people coming in for shorter durations. Two-year contracts could be too short and staff spend too much time settling in. In the Lesotho program, one advisor stayed 7 years, another 5 1/2, and another for two.

Short-term consultants
These are invaluable for training and assistance on specific subjects. The time period may be for a few weeks and up to a couple of months.

Training of staff
Both overseas and local courses, as well as practical hands-on experience is involved.

Excerpt from:
Low-Cost Urban Sanitation in Lesotho. Isabel C. Blackett. Water and Sanitation Discussion Paper Series, DP Number 10. 1994. A publication of the UNDP-World Bank Water and Sanitation Program. http://web.mit.edu/urbanupgrading/upgrading/issues-tools/tools/staffing-projects.html

2. What about family issues?

Recognizing that family and cultural adaptation problems can lead to failure, involving family members up front in the selection, ...

Solution Summary

Expatriate labor is a crucial factor for firms going global. This solution discusses how much expatriate labor exists, as well as how long they stay. It also discusses family issues and explains the process of how to "re-patriate."

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