| Working abroad: assignment and global mobility

| Working abroad: assignment and global mobility

International mobility is an increasingly widespread and challenging factor for many companies. But what drives a company to invest in international mobility? Why are both medium-sized companies and multinational groups opting to gamble on this sector?

What is the value of the human capital employed? What does it mean for an employee to start such a challenging path? What are the risks for the company? There is no universally agreed upon answer to these and many other questions. Over the last decade, there has been a strong growth in the number of assignments abroad, with a trend that is profoundly different from that seen in the previous decades. What has changed is both the approach and the concept of assignment that, obviously, are affected by the impact of market globalization and the need to develop and disseminate organizational and managerial technical knowledge, which are increasingly fundamental factors of our daily life. Contrarily to past views on the subject, it is now common knowledge that, over time, a person’s skills can arise and develop in any part of the world.

In these new assignment processes, therefore, from a purely operational point of view, it is no longer just the large American and European multinationals that send their personnel abroad for medium to long term missions.

It is, thus, necessary to provide a more specific definition to the term “Assignment“. This term involves, in fact, a broad category of workers – not necessarily sent in posting – called to carry out their activities outside the national borders, according to different schemes and methods of service performance.

The simplest definition is “Expat“. This term usually indicates those employees who move to a foreign country for a limited period of time in order to carry out a mission by virtue of an agreement between the “mother” company, which sends him/her on a mission, and the “host” company, where said mission will be carried out. Over the years, companies interested in the phenomenon of international mobility have given rise to different types of assignments, which differ according to the type of service performed and the duration of the mission. In general, it is possible to distinguish between:

  • Assignments that require the constant presence of the worker abroad (in this case, in light

of the Italian legislation, we will talk about foreign posting)

  • Missions that are activities carried out both in the home and the host countries

(employees on occasional transfers or foreign transferees).