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Journal articles (2018), International Journal of Human Resource Management, 29 (15), pp. 2253-2283

Exploring the Development and Transfer of Career Capital in an International Governmental Organization


This study investigates global career self-management behaviors of staff in an international governmental organization (IGO). The literature on global careers argues that individuals should maximize their career capital, operationalized in the intelligent careers (IC) concept as competencies, social networks, and motivations of persons related to their careers. The IC concept implies that career capital is transferable and argues that IC components are interrelated and selfreinforcing. We explored these assumptions through a case study in a United Nations (UN) organization. Using the IC framework we undertook 29 semi-structured interviews with international assignees, HR, and operational experts and conducted one focus group discussion with seven staffing coordinators. We found that the UN organization had high barriers to career capital transfer between head office and field stations. Therefore, the IGO staff experienced conflicting demands in terms of their career capital behaviors. Many staff did not focus on maximizing their career-relevant capabilities or social networks. Instead, they pursued international careers that intentionally sacrificed internal career progression in favor of their humanitarian aid duties. The research adds to the insights of the global careers literature and refines our understanding of the relationship of the organizational center to its foreign affiliates. The findings expose potentially contradictory behavioral implications of elements of the IC concept and call for a context-sensitive refinement. Managerial implications for resourcing, development, career management, and retention are discussed. Link to the article

DICKMANN, M. and CERDIN, J.L. (2018). Exploring the Development and Transfer of Career Capital in an International Governmental Organization. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 29(15), pp. 2253-2283.

Keywords : #Global-careers, #Intelligent-careers, #International-mobility, #International-governmental-organizations, #Head-office–subsidiary-relationship