Women in international management : an examination of the role of home country selection processes in influencing the number of women in international management positions
This thesis is concerned with understanding why women have such low participation rates on international management assignments. It questions the assumption that the main explanation for this phenomenon lies with factors extraneous to the home country organisational context; for instance, foreigners' prejudice; family constraints and women's own lack of interest. In view of the lack of research evidence to show that women fail once on international management assignments, the thesis explores the role of Human Resource Management practices within the home country headquarters' context, as a key factor in determining women's representation. In particular, it examines the role of the selection system for international assignments in limiting women's opportunities in this area. The research study takes a UK perspective due to the minimal research undertaken on women in international management within this country. A multi-stage research design was used in order to ascertain, firstly, the participation rate of women in international management and key barriers via a survey of UK-based international organisations. Semi-structured interviews were then held with women expatriates and International HR Directors as a result of which the focus on home country selection systems for international management assignments was developed. The main stage of the research consisted of an in-depth case study of the selection process for international management assignments within three organisations with differing levels of representation of women in international management positions. The case studies explored how the operation of different systems might lead to greater or lesser use of individual preferences by selectors, with resultant impacts on the numbers of women entering international management positions. The analysis of individual selectors' preferences was carried out with the use of Repertory Grid technique. Inherent gender bias in the constructs elicited from the Grids was analysed using Schein' s Descriptive Index. The main contribution of the thesis is the development of a conceptual model identifying a typology of selection systems for international management assignments which will assist both academics and practitioners to analyse the potential for bias within existing selection systems.