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Women abroad: getting the best results from women managers

Culpan, Oya and Wright, Gillian H. (2002) Women abroad: getting the best results from women managers. International journal of human resource management, 13 (5). pp. 784-801. ISSN 0958-5192

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Abstract

This study explores the work environment of expatriate women managers in American corporations and investigates the determinants of their job satisfaction. The strategic importance of global assignments has increased over the years. The real cost of unsuccessful expatriates extends beyond the monetary expenses. As the number of women managers working overseas increases, so does the importance of this topic. Additionally, because women in expatriate positions are relatively new, their needs for job satisfaction and career aspirations are not known to most organizations. This research intends to fill this gap. The study concentrates on four major areas that are considered important for obtaining job satisfaction: (1) the way in which organizations design their overseas jobs, (2) women's skills and characteristics, (3) international human resource policies of companies and (4) the cultural environment of host countries. The applied research covers two phases: a study of expatriate managers during their assignments overseas and the evaluation of overseas experience upon their return. The results indicate that women in overseas assignments are satisfied overall with their jobs. However, organizational variables are more strongly related to job satisfaction. The nature of job design in overseas postings has the greatest impact on women's job satisfaction. When the jobs are enriched, women gain intrinsic rewards and have high job satisfaction. Organizational support also contributes to the satisfaction of women expatriates. Training, mentoring and repatriation preparations have high impact on women's success and satisfaction. Women expatriates are more concerned with their repatriation and future advancement than their present assignments. The findings are important for theoretical and practical reasons. Theoretically, the achievement and satisfaction of women managers overseas cannot be simplified without taking into account organizational, personal and cultural factors. Practically, companies need to respond to the individual needs of expatriate women managers and then decide on their assignments and their repatriation accordingly.

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