Opinion: Can Working Abroad Ever Be Worthwhile?

Alison Pearce, Katarzyna Dziewanowska, Rose Quan, Szu-hsin Wu

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Despite assumptions of automatic benefits, sending people abroad can sometimes be bad for business, while working abroad can be as much of a pain, as a perk or privilege.
Over the last 3 years, we have managed and participated in a major international staff exchange programme supporting research and innovation, funded by the European Commission. A consortium of 16 partner organizations of varying size, in different industries and across five countries in Europe and Asia undertook to complete 270 months of international secondment between them.
The results have been overwhelmingly positive and successful: new and fruitful relationships between individuals and institutions, a diverse network growing in size and stability, increasing confidence, creativity and innovation within the project, a rapidly developing international profile and significant new skills sets, international experience and effectiveness for all involved. We have navigated stormy geopolitical waters involving Brexit and US-intra-Korean relations. The development of such capacity is a key aim of our project.
However, we have arguably learned more from our failures than our success. In this opinion piece we want to take the rare opportunity reflect on the mistakes we have made and how we rectified them, recovered and thrived. By the end of our staff exchange project, we believe we will have perfected the creation of value from international mobility and everyone can learn from our experience and the solutions we have developed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-132
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Development Practice, Policy and Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2019


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