Trends in expatriation
During the early 1980's expatriation was dominated by professionals sent by their employers to foreign subsidiaries or headquarters for long-term posts. By the end of the 1990's, however, globalization had created a new world market for skilled professionals. With the cost of intercontinental travel significantly decreasing and a booming economic uptown, employes could afford to turn to recruitment on a global scale if they could not find the right talent in the local market.
This has created a different type of expatriate where commuter and short-term assignments are becoming common, and gradually are replacing the traditional long term. Private motivation is becoming more relevant than company assignment. Families might often stay behind when work opportunities amount to months instead of years. The cultural impact of this trend is more significant. Traditional corporate expatriates did not integrate and commonly only associated with the elite of the country they were living in. Modern expatriates form a global middle class with shared work experiences in Multi-national Corporation and working and living the global financial and economical centers. Integration is incomplete but strong cultural influences are transmitted. Middle class expatriates contain many re-migrants from emigration movements one or two generations earlier.
Relocating to another country is not simply a question of a new workplace, but great changes in the personal sphere, with a new language, new customs and mores, a different and unfamiliar physical environment. Those who adapt can find this a rewarding experience, as they gain a new perspective and culture without losing the old.
The younger the employee, the easier it usually is for them to adapt, the more mobile they will be, the less likely to have family considerations to take into account int he move. On the other hand, for older employees, family considerations can play the decisive role in relocation decisions. In both cases career advancement can play a role, though with younger employees, this is likely to encourage mobility, whereas with older employees, having an established professional niche can make them resistant to moving.
One of the crucial factors in the success of the relocation in such cases will be the ability of the company to provide assistance with finding a new home and supporting the family in establishing itself in its new home. One element in this process is not just the adjustment of the relocated employee to their new location, but that of their spouse too, which is why joint visits are strongly recommended before a final decision is reached.
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