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Harvard Business and EY report on 'effective global mobility strategy'

Best-in-class orgs say global mobility critical to supporting new business growth,
improving financial performance,
bolstering employee engagement, succession planning,
retain/develop top talent,
increasing diversity.












As three trends— complexity, speed to market, and global reach — converge, the need for competent managers to take on cross-border assignments grows. This is where global mobility fits in.


Effective global mobility strategy and execution — or strategic global mobility — can be a key tenet of organizational effectiveness and performance management.


By tying global mobility strategy to other metrics, best-in-class organizations have reported their global mobility programs have been critical to supporting new business growth, improving financial performance, bolstering employee engagement, succession planning, retaining and developing top talent, and increasing diversity.


These are among the findings of a new Harvard Business Review Analytic Services survey, sponsored by Ernst & Young, of 695 executives around global mobility— research that features in-depth interviews with eleven best-practice company leaders. Ninety percent of respondents are managers/executives in global companies, with more than two-thirds (69 percent) representing organizations with operations in more than ten countries.


The research found that despite the tangible benefits of getting it right, global mobility remains a low priority on the list of strategic imperatives. It is, among most organizations’ business priorities, not a principal area of focus. In fact, many organizations today still do not have a mobility strategy in place.


Forty-three percent of respondents indicated their companies did not have such a strategy and instead handled mobility needs reactively or on an as-needed basis, which was cited as the primary barrier to global mobility’s success.


For the purposes of this study, respondents who said they handled mobility this way are called “reactors”; respondents who said their organizations used global mobility as an integral part of how they grow their business and develop their people are called “strategists.” The study showed marked differences in attitudes, practices, and outcomes among global mobility reactors versus strategists.


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