More expats working in challenging emerging markets, research shows

by Ray Clancy on May 21, 2012

China, India, Russia and Brazil are regarded as challenging locations

More people are being sent abroad to work with emerging markets such as China becoming some of the most common destinations, according to the latest research published in the Global Mobility Survey 2012.

‘We may be at the beginning of a profound shift towards the growing economies and away from the stagnant ones,’ the report says. But it warns that these new emerging markets present challenges for expats often in terms of infrastructure, culture and sometimes security.

Overall 47% of organisations report a growth in assignments in the last 12 months and 45% anticipate growth in the next year. This is being driven by expansion of operations both within existing countries and into new markets, including ‘explosive expansion’ into emerging markets, the report says.

Emerging markets are now overtaking as the most common destinations with China taking a clear lead as 21% of organisations say it is their most common relocation destination.

The research also shows that assignments of one to three years remain the most common, accounting for 62% but assignments of less than 12 months now account for 24% of placements.

China, India, Russia and Brazil are regarded as the most challenging locations with cultural differences reported as the leading reason.

The main reason for demand from emerging markets is a lack of local talent. And despite changing lifestyle expectations, people are rising to the challenge and those that move abroad to work are lured by the challenge and excitement, the report points out.

But the expat life is not for everyone. The report says that with couples often having dual careers there are increasing instances of spouses not wanting to move abroad.

‘There is also a decreased willingness to accept the disruption to personal and social lives which result from long term assignments. The biggest concern is disruption to children’s education,’ it explains.

‘Dual career issues are today one of the most common reasons for assignment rejection. This trend is often visible among young employees under 35. Some companies have a pool of employees who go from one international assignment to another and whose spouses do not work. However, the number of these type of employees is limited. Moreover, these employees are generally nearing retirement,’ said Anne-Laure Budin, director of the Magellan Network, an international networking group.

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