International Assignment Failure Before Assignment Commences

In a related article, we looked at the significant failure rates for international assignments, and the associated costs for a company of a failed assignment. Expatriate failure in this context refers to any delays, interruptions or premature ending of an assignment without meeting the planned business objectives. There are steps that can be taken before the assignment begins that can help reduce the chances of international assignment failure, but first it is necessary to know the common reasons that an assignment may encounter difficulty pre-departure.

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Aug 29, 2018
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In a related article, we looked at the significant failure rates for international assignments, and the associated costs for a company of a failed assignment. Expatriate failure in this context refers to any delays, interruptions or premature ending of an assignment without meeting the planned business objectives.

There are steps that can be taken before the assignment begins that can help reduce the chances of international assignment failure, but first it is necessary to know the common reasons that an assignment may encounter difficulty pre-departure.

Common Reasons for International Assignment Failure: Before The Start of the Assignment

International assignment failure can occur due to employee reasons, company issues or host country challenges.

Pre-departure Drop Out by Employee

Employees assigned to a foreign country may have the intention to fulfil their role, but may be hindered by other factors.  Problems with health, family disruption or even second thoughts about working abroad can lead an employee to drop out.

Delays in Starting the Assignment

Not every assignment goes as planned, and the official start date could be postponed for various reasons, adding to expense and preventing initiation of the assignment.  Common reasons for delay include immigration and work permit issues, employee moving logistics, lack of resources or infrastructure in the assignment location or a timeframe that was too aggressive.

Host Country Issues

Problems can arise at any time in the host country that may delay or prevent an assignment altogether.  Economic weakness, political disruptions and even security concerns may lead to cancellation of an assignment.

Changes in Assignment Objectives and Structure

Most international assignments have a guiding business objective, and if that changes for strategic reasons then the assignment may no longer fit the company’s goals.

Excessive and Unforeseen Expenses

If the assignment budget appears to have been set too low, management may need to reconsider the value of an assignment based on the specific ROI metrics being used. 

Minimising Pre-Start Expatriate Failure

Despite the fact that some international assignments will fair no matter what steps are taken, there are ways to minimize pre-start expatriate failures.  HR departments should have a planning and pre-departure checklist that include the following measures for each assignment...read more

Shield GEO makes international employment simple. Our customers use Shield GEO to employ and payroll hundreds of workers in over fifty countries. Find out more.


Go to the profile of Tim Burgess

Tim Burgess

Director, Shield GEO Services Ltd

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