No room at the top? A system dynamics view of the recursive consequences of women’s underrepresentation in international assignments

Bastida, Maria, Pinto, Luisa Helena and Harzing, Anne-Wil ORCID logoORCID: (2021) No room at the top? A system dynamics view of the recursive consequences of women’s underrepresentation in international assignments. Journal of Global Mobility: The Home of Expatriate Management Research, 9 (3) . pp. 361-381. ISSN 2049-8799 [Article] (doi:10.1108/JGM-04-2021-0047)

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Purpose: The expatriation literature has developed an insightful body of research on the reasons why women are not assigned abroad as frequently as men. However, we know very little about the systemic and recursive consequences of women’s underrepresentation in international assignments (IAs), which are examined in this conceptual paper.

Design/methodology/approach: Drawing upon expatriation research and a system dynamics perspective, we propose a conceptual model to explain both women’s underrepresentation in IAs and its recursive consequences.

Findings: We highlight how women’s underrepresentation in IAs results from a complex system of recursive effects that jeopardizes women’s professional development and undermines both their own career progression to top management and firms’ competitive advantage and international growth. We argue that organizations make decisions that contravene their own interest in a competitive global environment. First, because they are limiting their talent pool by not considering female candidates. Second, because they are missing the opportunity to use IAs to advance women’s careers.

Research implications/limitations: Our model provides a solid grounding for future research on selecting the most effective organizational actions and designing support-ive measures to disrupt the persistent dynamics contributing to women’s underrepresentation in IAs. Future research could also expand our study by incorporating individual differences and the proactive role that women may take.

Managerial implications: Our model points to specific managerial interventions (e.g., increased access to job-training and specific training ahead of the assignment, dual-career support, women’s mentoring, and affirmative action) which have the potential to reduce women’s underrepresentation in IAs and in top management.

Originality: Our system dynamics approach enables a broader understanding of why women are underrepresented in IAs, how this underrepresentation further exacer-bates gender segregation in international business, and how these recursive outcomes can be averted to the advantage of firms’ sustainable growth.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > Business School
Item ID: 33710
Notes on copyright: Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited. This AAM is provided for your own personal use only. It may not be used for resale, reprinting, systematic distribution, emailing, or for any other commercial purpose without the permission of the publisher
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Depositing User: Anne-Wil Harzing
Date Deposited: 12 Aug 2021 10:45
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 17:43

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