Long-term assignment reward (dis)satisfaction outcomes: hearing women’s voices

Shortland, Susan and Perkins, Stephen J. (2016) Long-term assignment reward (dis)satisfaction outcomes: hearing women’s voices. Journal of Global Mobility, 4 (2). pp. 225-250. ISSN 2049-8799


Drawing upon compensating differentials, equity theory and the psychological contract, women’s voices illustrate how organisational policy dissemination, implementation and change can lead to unintended assignee dissatisfaction with reward. Implications arise for organisational justice which can affect women’s future expatriation decisions.

A qualitative case study methodology was employed. Reward policies for long-term international assignments were analysed. In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted confidentially with 21 female long-term assignees selected using stratified sampling, and with two managers responsible for international reward policy design/implementation.

Policy transparency is required. Women perceive inequity when allowances based on grade are distorted by family status. Women in dual career/co-working couples expect reward to reflect their expatriate status. Reward inequity is reported linked to specific home/host country transfers. Policy change reducing housing and children’s education are major causes of reward dissatisfaction.

Research limitations
This case study research was cross-sectional and set within one industry. It addressed reward outcomes only for long-term international assignments from the perspectives of women who had accepted expatriation in two oil and gas firms.

Practical implications
Reward policy should be transparent. Practitioners might consider the inter-relationship between policy elements depending on grade and accompanied status, location pairings, and the effects of policy content delivery to dual career/co-working couples.

This paper advances the field of international assignment reward by examining compensating differentials, equity and the psychological contract and takes these forward via implications for organisational justice. It identifies reward elements that support women’s expatriation and address their low share of expatriate roles, thereby fostering gender diversity. Future research themes are presented.

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