International assignment failure - Quantifiable costs are just the tip of the iceberg

Crucial but not always quantifiable:

  • Project delay or failure

  • Loss of market credibility or competitive edge
  • Damage to reputation and employer brand
  • High flyers lost to competitors or repatriated and not fully utilised or engaged
  • Need to plug skills gaps and fill expatriate positions at short notice
  • Disruption and adverse motivational impact on other employees
  • Local staff and global networks not developed
  • Best practice not share

Why do we do it? 

International assignments must have a clear purpose; assignment numbers, types, packages and support must match the needs and priorities of the business and deliver the required return on investment.   Organisations also have a 'duty of care' to employees.  Furthermore, moving the right people, safeguarding employee performance, maintaining employee commitment and retaining key employees are global mobility challenges which impact the bottom line.

Achieving a competitive advantage through global mobility

The business case for getting global mobility right is not solely to avoid international assignment failure, it is also to achieve a competitive advantage.


  • Irrecoverable costs spent on housing, schools etc
  • Relocation costs including shipments, flights, visas and tax advice
  • Recruitment costs including agency fees and selection and induction time