what the study is about

This study explores the causes and consequences of failed assignments from people who have experienced it -- expatriates and their spouses & families. Our goal is to understand:

  • why international assignments fail
  • whether expatriates provide accurate reasons for assignment failure to their employers
  • the impact of failed assignments on companies, and expatriates & their families

why it matters

Failed international assignments are no small matter. The costs can be enormous and include losses in revenue, recruitment and replacement costs for retrenched or repatriated staff, declines in employee morale, and even damage to a firm’s reputation and brand. Failed assignments can also affect expatriates’ physical and mental well-being in relation to their self-esteem, missed promotion opportunities, and loss of prestige and respect among their colleagues.

Failed assignments are also notoriously difficult to define, ranging from 'premature return' to 'inability to achieve assignment objectives' and 'inadequate on-assignment performance.'

Additionally, the causes of failed assignments have not been extensively studied and remain relatively one-sided, with only organisational perspectives to guide the limited research available.