Today most companies are focusing on cutting HR costs including talent development, reducing number and duration of international assignments, increasing localizations and hiring frizz. I think this is a knee-jerk reaction to the global financial crisis to show pretty bottom line without really knowing the impact on the business growth on a long run. Mercer.com conducted a survey on Measuring ROI of international Assignments and they found than less than 5 % of companies interviewed have a system in place for measuring ROI of international assignments.
On average, expatriates cost 1.5 to 4 times than local employees would cost. However I think looking at costs only without knowing exactly the value you get for the price will have a great impact on the global company performance. It is like looking for a BMW or a Maserati car for the price of a Renault in France.
Some countries like China are developing so fast with an annual growth rate of more than 9%t, that the local talents did not get the time to be properly trained and do not have enough international business management experience and skills (see more about China: http://bit.ly/Talentwar)
I think developed countries too like USA or Japan see already some gap of talent between the Babyboomers who are retiring, the Gen Y and the Milenials, a trend that will accelerate by year 2020. Today with the globalization and the internet, knowledge, technology, capital, goods and services are highly inter-connected as we can see with the global financial crisis.
Mobility management will be more and more complex and “one-size-fits-all HR policies” will not work to attract top talents who can adapt quickly to changes and will make a big difference in a highly competitive, fast evolving business environment. You can get details at the PwC report on Talent Mobility 2020
When the economy will start to improve, the talent scarcity will become a real problem for global companies who did not develop or retain enough good candidates for international assignments.
The companies should benchmark best practices on talent acquisition, development and retention country by country. It is obvious that you do not require the same set of skills from a technical expert sent in Africa or a General Manager of an American company in China. I think the key is flexibility and speed, not bureaucracy.