Is It The End Of Expat Executives ?

BRIC leaders

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International HR management is changing and it is not in favor of sending more expatriates. This new trend seems to go faster than International HR management (IHRM) experts predicted. In 2010 most global companies thought that there were not enough local talents in regions like the BRIC countries and were thinking of sending more expatriates: See previous post here “Developing Global Executives: Failure Is Not An Option” . However in 2011, many global companies are now comfortable to hire local executives instead of sending expensive expatriates. This is the case in India for example where Global firms prefer local executives to expats to run Indian operations. 

Traditionally  American and European companies used to send domestic expatriates to foreign offices to share knowledge and expertise. However the cost related to sending international assignees is usually three to four times the employee’s base salary. Repatriation is often a failure with a majority of employees staying less than one to two years with the parent company after returning from abroad. 

” High Tech companies are opening offices and labs around the world, putting local managers and executives in charge. As a result, companies often train regional executives in the US and send them back to work in their home regions.” Source: Recruiters World ArticlesInternational HR Management Part I: Not Just an Expatriate Game Anymore

 I think that the way expatriates are managed will evolve toward less costly benefits but more opportunities will be given to young western talented managers willing to learn other cultures and interested to become global citizens even for less money compared to “home” as most successful  companies operate in a global environment.

The “new expat executive” will be a kind of hybrid combining the low-cost local manager with advanced knowledge of cross-cultural issues and global leadership with technical expertise usually brought by a traditional expatriate executive.


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11 thoughts on “Is It The End Of Expat Executives ?

  1. Rajan Chopra May 26, 2011 at 7:58 am Reply

    Its true and makes sense to hire local managers, and as a consultant for DSP . I saw it coming, though it is a setback, but has to be accepted.

    • Anne Egros, Global Executive Coach May 26, 2011 at 9:41 am Reply

      Thanks Chopra for your comment.
      One thing I really find true is that most of repatriations are failures for many reasons but mostly because of the “reverse culture shock”. If you send abroad a local/regional executive to the headquarters for training, it takes usually 6 months or less so going back “home” is not an issue because usually family did not follow the executive for such a short period of time .

      • Rajan May 27, 2011 at 3:24 am Reply

        One of the reasons for setback is the comfort levels that are available like huge Houses , servants and other benefits in countries like India for instance, which back home are not possible, so going back can be an issue.
        I do know of expats who look to stay back and continue on a new assignment, and have nothing to go back. The end of the contract can be a dilemma not only for the assignee but the family also.

        • Anne Egros, Global Executive Coach June 1, 2011 at 4:43 pm Reply

          Hi Rajan,
          That is a interesting point of view, Sure there is a feeling of loss: loss of status, benefits, privileges when an expat return back home after 3-5 years, especially in countries where y have a nice house, company car with or without chauffeur, a maid, a gardener etc. That is why repatriation can be a truly grieving process.

  2. Imca September 5, 2011 at 8:03 am Reply

    We have been repatriated a year ago after 10 years as expats in Asia. Although it has been a tough year mainly to adjust to ‘reality’ after ,yes, the big house, driver and housekeeper. We feel that we wouldn’t have missed it for the world but our children also need to know what reality for us means. Quality of life in our case (The Netherlands) is just completely different, not better or worse. The reason we are back is just as the article says, locals are running the factories now and expats with less ‘baggage’ (as in children, expansive schooling, or even a spouse) are asked for the job and there are a lot more short-term assignments instead of 5 year assignments. If we can we will go again, but life is also good here and after the initial first year horrors, where the culture shock hist you in the face again, although you know its coming, we have build up our life here again and are also happy to stay. But I agree, repatriation also comes with culture shock and do not underestimate that; also exists back home!

    • Anne Egros, Global Executive Coach September 5, 2011 at 9:26 pm Reply

      I really got the impression that the repatriation process and the “reverse culture shock” are underestimated in 90 % of the cases when going back “home” is the last destination. I think as people are becoming more independent with less .benefits and their expat status not linked to a company in particular, then maybe expatiation will become a true lifestyle choice rather than a career promotion opportunity.

  3. Judy September 6, 2011 at 7:22 pm Reply

    One thing that’s occurred to me recently is that when you repatriate you lose your safety net. When living overseas we often said “well if we don’t like it, or it doesn’t turn out, we can always go back home.” Once you ARE home and home doesn’t feel like home anymore, that can be pretty scary.

    • Anne Egros, Global Executive Coach September 7, 2011 at 9:31 am Reply

      Thanks Judy, Great comment. I know this feeling, it looks like someone tied your arms and feet and ask you to smile and be happy . This someone unfortunately is ourselves. We need to change perspectives and internal dialogue. Easier said than done:-)

  4. […] same country and have much more benefits and salaries than “locals”. I wrote in another article that this type of expats have a tendency to disappear for  the “new expat […]

  5. Adventures (@in_expatland) January 21, 2014 at 10:10 pm Reply

    This is a growing trend but still many companies and organizations like to have someone on the ground who can link up HQ and local views. Technology helps (e.g., Skype and other virtual meeting software programs), allowing people in different places to ‘meet’ and work together. As globalization continues, I think companies will turn more to the true ‘professional internationals’ – people comfortable moving between and among countries/cultures – rather than simply asking HQ folks who’ve never lived overseas to go. Regardless, the future leadership of such companies will be made up of those with overseas experience and a more well-rounded understanding of what it takes to run a truly global entity.

    • Anne Egros, Global Executive Coach January 21, 2014 at 10:18 pm Reply

      I Linda, I totally agree with you. There is also a trend showing that more expatriate executives are moving without family for a shorter stay. According to a recent article in the Telegraph:, a total of 23 per cent of expats in 2013 were travelling without their spouse or partner compared to 8 per cent 12 years ago,

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