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Actes d'une conférence (2011), Proceedings of the EURAM conference, European Academy of Management (EURAM)

Un-Intelligent Careers: Career Capital Behaviour In An International Governmental Organization


Building on a resource-based view, Inkson and Arthur (2001) argue that successful modern careerist should strive to maximize their career capital. One of the ways that this could be done is through international mobility although some of the risks have been exposed (Haslberger and Brewster, 2009; Lazarova and Cerdin, 2007). This paper reviews the literature with respect to the role of head offices and foreign assignments for intelligent careers. It finds that in multinational organizations (MNCs) the maximization of career capital is likely to involve two patterns: staying at the head office or working abroad for a limited time. Starting from the premise that too little is known about global career behaviour in international governmental organizations (IGOs), the authors conducted 16 in-depth interviews in a United Nations (UN) organization. The findings challenged many of the insights of the international human resource management (HRM) and global mobility literature. The key organizational motives for expatriation were different, the role of head office – foreign affiliate was distinct from for-profit companies and career capital effects of working abroad varied. Interestingly, instead of career capital maximization individuals often preferred to behave as ‘humanitarian careerists’ sacrificing promotion chances. The research contributes to refine our understanding of the relationship or the organizational centre to its foreign affiliates and adds to our insights regarding international career patterns which might be intentionally UN-intelligent. Managerial implications are discussed.

DICKMAN, M. and CERDIN, J.L. (2011). Un-Intelligent Careers: Career Capital Behaviour In An International Governmental Organization. In: Proceedings of the EURAM conference. European Academy of Management (EURAM).