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Women’s participation in expatriation: the contribution of organisational policy & practice. A case study of the oil & gas exploration & production sector

Shortland, Susan (2012) Women’s participation in expatriation: the contribution of organisational policy & practice. A case study of the oil & gas exploration & production sector. PhD thesis, University of Westminster, Westminster Business School.

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Abstract

This thesis contributes to knowledge by demonstrating how organisational policies and practices can make a difference to increasing women’s expatriate participation in the oil and gas exploration and production sector. Through a census survey of female international assignees and in-depth interviews addressing their concerns in a UK-based case study setting, it explains why women hold such a low volume (approximately one-tenth) of the sector’s expatriate roles. International assignments are a business necessity as expatriates supply specialist skills and strategic vision. Given skills shortages in the sector, the case for increasing expatriate gender diversity is strong. This study is important and timely as, thus far, we know very little about how organisational policy and practice can increase expatriate gender participation. Hence, this thesis addresses deficiencies in the extant literature and contributes new academic knowledge. It also provides practical suggestions to enable organisations to widen expatriate gender diversity. The thesis identifies the effects of horizontal and vertical segregation, assignment type and underpinning organisational policies on women’s expatriate participation. Relatively few women are suitably qualified for the majority of expatriate engineering and exploration posts. Yet, even when they hold appropriate qualifications, women experience intense competition for career-enhancing expatriation and are segregated into noninternationally mobile occupations. As international experience is a prerequisite for career development, women are disadvantaged. Women prefer long-term accompanied assignments as these provide the highest career contribution coupled with home life/ family stability, underpinned by generous remuneration/ benefits packages. Unaccompanied shortterm, rotational and commuter assignments are less attractive. As assignment lengths shorten due to cost and other pressures, career contribution and family life and, consequently, women’s expatriate participation are affected detrimentally. Organisational policy supporting expatriation is implemented formally and informally. Yet, strong reliance on high levels of networking to gain expatriate roles potentially creates and reinforces vertical segregation. While equal opportunity is espoused and diversity policy is in place, strategic and operational action to increase women’s share of expatriation is lacking. A meritocracy prevails and women compete in an expatriate ‘male game’.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Research Community:University of Westminster > Westminster Business School
ID Code:10680
Deposited On:04 Jul 2012 10:59
Last Modified:04 Jul 2012 11:00

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