The level of globalisation seen in the last 20 years is not going to go away. Companies need to operate worldwide businesses, and they will continue to do so. Because so many multinational companies receive substantial revenues outside their home country, they cannot withdraw their current management, operations and resources without huge consequences. Substantial planning and structural changes are necessary before such decisions can be made.
In the short term, some companies might retrench and repatriate their people early. But with the current economic downturn, there may be no job opportunities back home! Other companies may choose to move their people out of ‘risky’ areas and relocate them to perceptibly ‘safer havens’.
Twenty years ago employees were expatriated primarily to export their knowledge and skills to other countries. In today’s environment, fewer expatriates are needed because companies have built up capabilities in production, marketing, technology, and management, to serve a global network which no longer has a specific home location.
As a result, the number of expatriates represents the core number of employees needed to support globalisation on a worldwide basis. Terrorist threats will not change the need for the development, exchange, and placement of key personnel globally.
The argument for increased intercultural understanding has never been greater. Working successfully in/or managing multicultural teams is a growing focus, along with long-distance management and effective communication strategies.
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