Managing the expatriation cycle : ideals and realities : a case study of the Norwegian mncs Jotun and Statoil
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- Master Thesis 
Expatriation represents considerable costs for multinational companies (MNCs) today. But they also represent a source of multiple benefits. These benefits are, however, highly intangible and to measure to what extent they are realised is a difficult exercise. One way to ensure that companies extract as most benefits as possible from their expatriation processes is to manage an efficient and effective set of HRM practices. Academics have suggested a number of techniques that aim at assuring the adaptation of best HRM practices. These are what we call “the ideals”. But do MNCs today follow the recommendations of the scholars? This thesis analyses “the realities” of the HRM practices in two Norwegian MNCs, Jotun and Statoil. The analysis is followed by a discussion about whether it matters if the observed reality deviates from the academic ideals, and what MNCs can do to be closer aligned to academic best practise. When analysing the HRM practises at the different stages of the expatriation cycle, deviance from the ideals are observed on a number of areas. Four key issues are identified to have particularly strong implications for performance. Firstly, relatively small resources are given to spousal support, such as job hunting services, during the assignment. Secondly, there is reportedly an insufficient degree of expatriate follow-ups by HR. Thirdly, the performance management systems are not appropriate for measuring expatriate performance. Fourthly, there is an unstructured and ad-hoc driven approach towards repatriation. It is suggested that the MNCs studied can improve the way they manage their expatriates by adopting academic ideals on six distinct areas: The recruitment process, expatriate and family support, communication between HQ and subsidiary, performance management, the repatriation process and the knowledge transfer upon repatriation.