An investigation of expatriation challenges: a case study of Transnet Port Terminals in Durban.
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Globalization has influenced internationalisation of 21st century organisations. South African organisations are expanding their horizons not only nationally but globally. The expansion of organisational activities outside national borders challenge South African companies to invoke changes that relate to the management of expatriates. Changes due to globalisation poses many new challenges for management due to the internationalisation of human resource management. As a result, employers and employees are expected to rapidly gain various skills to adapt to the speed of change for organisations to achieve competitive advantage. This study explores the expatriate process challenges at Transnet Port Terminals and examines the perceptions and experiences of expatriates prior, during and post international assignments. It also examines the perceptions of the Human Resource (HR) Managers responsible for the management and administration of global mobility. The study delves into the experiences of expatriates based on four phases of the expatriation process, that is (phase 1) selection of suitable candidates for international assignments, (phase 2) pre-departure training that looks at training before the assignment, (phase 3) on-assignment support that looks at communication and ongoing support between Head Office and the expatriate and lastly, (phase 4) repatriation of expatriates that looks at the return of expatriates back to the home country. The research methodology adopted for this study is a qualitative research to investigate the perceptions of expatriates, and acquire a deeper understanding about their experiences. The researcher conducted semistructured interviews with ten participants from Transnet Port Terminals (TPT). The ten participants included six expatriates and four managers from Human Resource Management, who played an integral role in administering and managing global mobility. Adopting a single case study approach, the study explores international HR management processes and practices at Transnet Port Terminals. Data collected from the questionnaire and existing sources were analysed to answer research questions, and compared the expatriate processes at Transnet Port Terminals to ‘best practices’ obtained from literature review. The results from the study affirm the importance of four phases in the expatriation process to implement and manage a successful international assignment. The study contributes to the existing body of knowledge due to the growing demand for expatriates globally. Valuable insights on expatriation from existing literature provided in this study including the recommendations hope to inspire management at Transnet Port Terminals in developing a successful expatriation process.