International assignments are more common in this globalised economy. They are exciting for the individual, and can be hugely beneficial for the organisation. But they are risky too: according to INSEAD, the proportion of expat assignment failures can be as high as 50%.
Studies have shown that the main reasons for failures on expat assignments are:
- Lack of local support: The host country has a crucial role to play, and the most important individual is the host sponsor. Their role is to provide the support in helping the assignee fit in, whether on a social, professional or domestic level.
- Difficulty developing cultural sensitivity: The assignee will find that things that are appropriate and normal in his culture are not allowed or are frowned upon in the host country, or vice versa.
- Family Stress. The spouse or children are not able to adjust to the culture of the host country and are feeling disconnected from home.