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Exploring the Career Capital Impact of International Assignments within Distinct Organizational Contexts


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The existing expatriation literature concentrates on what individuals need to perform in an international assignment (IA) but neglects what they gain from their foreign work experience. Using a dual-dependency perspective this study presents results from 26 in-depth interviews with international secondees within two UK-based organizational contexts. The paper explores the perceived impact of an IA on the career capital of individuals, showing that the outcomes of IAs can be equivocal for expatriates. Each firm concentrated their human resource mechanisms on developing different types of career capital and this focused individual behaviour on diverse career capital activities. In one of the organizations there was an internal misalignment between organizational and individual assignee focus. Based on the research a number of propositions were developed. This study provided an exploratory insight into points of departure rather than complementarity in individuals' international careers in organizations, which has been at the core of much recent research and writing. A more complex, contextualized picture of the effects of IAs on the careers of individuals emerged.