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Read the case study on page 431 about AstraZeneca Plc (AstraZeneca) and respond the following question: 
What decisions related to expatriates can organizations take to maximize the benefits to the company despite the economic downturn? Do you think a company that paid more careful attention to selection could further boost its chances of success?CHAPTER 10

Experiential Exercise
Form groups of six students, divided into two teams, one representing union members from a German company and the
other representing union members from a Mexican company.
These companies have recently merged in a joint venture, with
the subsidiary to be located in Mexico. These union workers,
all line supervisors, will be working together in Mexico. You
are to negotiate six major points of agreement regarding union
representation, bargaining rights, and worker participation in
management, as discussed in this chapter. Present your findings to the other groups in the class and discuss. (It may help
to read the Comparative Management in Focus: Motivation in
Mexico feature in Chapter 11.)
Expatriate Management at AstraZeneca Plc
Over the years, AstraZeneca Plc (AstraZeneca) has developed a strong reputation for its expatriate
management practices. Expatriate management at AstraZeneca went beyond tackling issues such
as compensation, housing, issues related to the spouse’s career abroad, and so on. It also took care
to ensure that employees on international assignment were able to adapt well to the new environment and achieve a work–life balance. With the global economic situation continuing to be grim,
AstraZeneca also began placing emphasis on a “more thoughtful planning and selection process” of
candidates for international assignments.1
Source: Deloitte Services LP
AstraZeneca is the world’s fifth-largest pharmaceutical company by global sales.2 It is headquartered in London, UK, and Södertälje, Sweden. For the year 2013, AstraZeneca’s revenues
were US$25.7 billion, and it employed around 51,500 employees. As of 2013, AstraZeneca had
around 350 employees working on international assignments in 140 countries worldwide. These
were employees who were on short-term, long-term, or commuter assignments.3 According to
Ashley Daly (Daly), senior manager of international assignments for AstraZeneca in the United
States, the company’s employees were mainly concentrated in Belgium, the United States, and
the United Kingdom, but they “also have a significant presence in the Asia-Pacific and Latin
America regions.”4 AstraZeneca’s policy stipulates that for any international assignment, there
had to be a business rationale. The company saw to it that the costs involved were acceptable and
that the career management of the employee during the assignment was consistent with personal
development goals as well as business needs. The contractual arrangements for the assignment
were also centrally managed.5 “From the outset, if there is not a clear sense of how the international assignment experience can be applied at the end of the assignment term—at least in broad
terms—the business should strongly consider whether an international assignment should even
move forward,”6 said Daly.
Once an assignment offer was made to a potential expat, AstraZeneca paired the employee
up with an international assignment manager (IA manager), who briefed him or her on company policy and opportunities for cultural and language training. Before leaving for the international assignment, the employee was trained in a workshop that focused on relevant issues
(such as leaving the destination location and returning to the home country). The expat was
given information about the culture of the destination country—particularly differences with
the home country—as well as social considerations and do’s and don’ts. If necessary, the employee and his or her spouse were given training in the local language. Tessi Romell (Romell),

research and development projects and HR effectiveness leader at AstraZeneca, said that the
company also helped connect new expats with those who had already served in that location.
Sometimes, follow-up workshops were held in the host country. Once on assignment, expats
stayed in touch with their IA manager in addition to the manager they reported to in the home
country. AstraZeneca saw to it that expats were given the necessary flexibility to achieve a work–
life balance. “AstraZeneca is really good at allowing people to manage their own time and being
aware that we are working across different time zones. It’s always something that we try to take
into consideration so we don’t have people [taking care of work matters] in the middle of the
night,”7 said Romell.
With AstraZeneca taking various initiatives on this front, there were few complaints about
work–life balance among the company’s expat population. Romell attributed this to the mechanisms the company had put in place to prepare the employees for life in a different country.
“It’s a combination of things that the company is doing and having a culture that is supportive
of work–life balance, as well as encouraging individuals themselves to think about their own
work–life balance,”8 she said. Experts, too, felt that the practices AstraZeneca followed, such as
preparing the employees for international assignments, providing them with support, and assigning IA managers, were effective. They lauded AstraZeneca’s practices, which were in contrast
to those of many companies that rushed employees to foreign assignments without adequate
support. Chris Buckley, manager of international operations for St. Louis–based Impact Group
Inc., pointed out that the expats knew that the organization was spending a lot of money on them
and they might be wary about coming up with any complaints regarding their new assignment
with their boss. In such a scenario, contact with the IA manager was useful because it could
encourage them to open up.
With the economic situation around the globe still gloomy, experts felt that organizations
would be forced to take a second look at the costs associated with international staffing. Some
felt that organizations would send fewer people on international assignments or allot them to
shorter terms abroad. They even predicted that the high compensation and benefits generally
associated with foreign assignments could also see cuts. While AstraZeneca had also taken
measures to cut costs (specifically tax costs) by sending employees on short-term assignments, Daly noted that this was not always possible. When the expat had a family and was
being posted for a longer term, Daly pointed out that some of the elements of AstraZeneca’s
expat packages, such as comprehensive destination support and educational counseling for expatriate children, played a critical role in ensuring the employee’s productivity. These supports
ensured that the expatriate family could settle down in the host country. Not providing them
might prevent employees from focusing on their new job, putting the company’s investment
at risk, so the company was not looking at this issue in terms of expenditures alone. The company also did not have any plans to decrease the number of its staff deployed internationally.
According to Daly, “Our recent focus has been less on reducing numbers of international assignees and more on making the right decisions about who goes on assignment; why they go;
and perhaps most important, how the skills and experience gained abroad will be leveraged in
their next role, post assignment.”9
1. Tanya Mohn, “When U.S. Home Isn’t Home Anymore,”
www.mydigitalfc.com, March 10, 2009.
2. “The Pharm Exec 50,” www.pharmexec.com, May 2009.
3. www.ideas.astrazeneca.com.
4. Susan Ainsworth, “Expatriate Programs,” http://pubs.acs.org,
April 6, 2009.
5. “AstraZeneca Global Policy: People,” www.astrazeneca.com.
6. Susan Ainsworth, “Expatriate Programs,” http://pubs.acs.org,
April 6, 2009.
7. Julie Cook Ramirez, “Finding Balance Abroad,” www.hreonline
.com, August 1, 2009.
8. Ibid.
9. Susan Ainsworth, “Expatriate Programs,” http://pubs.acs.org,
April 6, 2009.

Case Questions
10-7. Critically analyze AstraZeneca’s expatriate management practices.
10-8. Surveys show that most expats report feeling the strain of managing the demands of work and
home while adjusting to the foreign environment, leading to more anxieties at home and at the
workplace. What steps can an organization take to mitigate this?
10-9. What decisions related to expatriates can organizations take to maximize the benefits to the company despite the economic downturn? Do you think a company that paid more careful attention to
selection could further boost its chances of success?
This case was written by Debapratim Purkayastha, ICMR Center for Management Research (ICMR).
It was compiled from published sources and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion rather
than to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. © 2010, ICMR. All
rights reserved. Used with permission, 2012.
1. Thomas Grove, “Expats Flee Moscow as Tensions Flare,” Wall
Street Journal, June 10, 2015, B1. Julia Werdigier, “Paychecks and
Passports,” New York Times, April 2, 2008; Doreen Carvajal, “Paid
in Dollars, Some Americans Are Struggling in Europe,” New York
Times, December 15, 2007; Alan Paul, “The Expat Life: Clock
Counts Down as Decision Weighs: Should I Stay or Go?” www
.wallstreetjournal, February 28, 2008; Monica Ginsburg, “Getting
Ahead by Going Abroad,” Crain’s Chicago Business 31, No. 50
(2008), p. 20; Philip Shearer and Abby Ellin, “Foreign from the
Start,” www.nytimes.com, September 21, 2003; Jad Mouawad,
“Total, the French Oil Company, Places Its Bets Globally,” www
.nytimes.com, February 22, 2009; www.Global Relocation Trends
Survey, www.brookfieldgrs.com, accessed March 1, 2009; Keith
Bradsher and Julia Werdigier, “Abruptly Expatriate Bankers Are
Cut Loose,” www.nytimes.com March 4, 2009.
2. Werdigier.
3. Bradsher and Werdigier.
4. Wall Street Journal, February 28, 2008.
5. www.nytimes.com, February 22, 2000.
6. Ginsburg.
7. Shearer and Ellin.
8. Garry Oddou et al., “Repatriates as a Source of Competitive
Advantage, Organizational Dynamics (2013), pp. 42, 257–266.
9. The Global Talent Index Report: The Outlook to 2015 was
written by the Economist Intelligence Unit and published by
Heidrick & Struggles.
10. 2015 Global Relocation Trends Survey, www.brookfieldgrs
.com, accessed August 26, 2015.
11. Ibid.
12. A. Maitland, “Top Companies Value Overseas Experience,”
www.Financial Times, July 3, 2006.
13. “International Assignments Remain on the Upswing Despite
Economic Concerns, Says KPMG,” PR Newswire, December 3,
2008; www.kpmglink.com.
14. M. Lazarova and P. Caligiuri, “Retaining Repatriates: The Role
of Organizational Support Practices,” Journal of World Business
36, No. 4 (2001), pp. 389–401.
15. Charlene M. Solomon, “One Assignment, Two Lives,” Personnel
Journal (May 1996), pp. 36–44.
16. 2015 Global Relocation Trends Survey, www.brookfieldgrs
.com, accessed August 26, 2015.
17. Ibid.
18. Ibid.
19. 2011 Global Relocation Trends Survey, accessed March 1, 2011.
20. www.FT.com, March 5, 2001.
21. P. Asheghian and B. Ebrahimi, International Business (New
York: HarperCollins, 1990), p. 470.
22. Global Relocation Trends Survey, 2011.
23. N. J. Adler, International Dimensions of Organizational
Behavior, 4th ed. (Boston: PWS-Kent, 2002).
24. J. Bonache and C. Brewster, “Knowledge Transfer and the
Management of Expatriation,” Thunderbird International
Business Review 43, No. 1 (2001), pp. 145–168.
25. David Holthaus, “P&G at Work: Key Managers in Africa,”
Cincinnati Enquirer, April 16, 2011; www.pg.com, accessed
December 9, 2011.
26. Berthoin-Antal, “Expatriates’ Contributions to Organizational
Learning,” Journal of General Management 26, No. 4 (2001),
pp. 62–84.
27. Ibid.
28. Mila Lazarova and Ibraiz Tarique, “Knowledge Transfer upon
Repatriation,” Journal of World Business 40, No. 4 (2005),
pp. 361–373.
29. Ibid.
30. 2015 Global Relocation Trends Survey, www.brookfieldgrs
.com, accessed August 26, 2015.
31. Joe Leahy, “Brazil Hosts a Homecoming,” Financial Times,
August 23, 2011, p. 8; Guy Chazan, “Middle East: Oil Firms
Suspend Libyan Operations,” Wall Street Journal, February 22,
2011, p. A.11; Borzou Daragahi, “Expats Trickle Back to Libya
but Business Remains Slow,” Financial Times, London (UK),
February 11, 2012, pp. 2; Mariko Sanchanta, “Disaster in Japan:
Expatriates Tiptoe Back to the Office,” Wall Street Journal, March
23, 2011, p. A.7.

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