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Harnessing talent through global mobility

An ambitious global research and innovation staff exchange (RISE) project is tackling critical issues within employability and talent management that are key for business growth and economic development. Led by Northumbria University, this pioneering Horizon 2020 project is providing new and innovative insights that are informing national and international business processes and policies.


Global talent mobility has increased substantially since the millennium and this trend is expected to continue as businesses strive to attract, retain and develop high-performing employees – and ultimately, succeed in an increasingly competitive global economy. Posting employees overseas provides a host of opportunities for individuals and their organisations – from career development and upskilling to knowledge transfer and innovation. However, there are inevitably challenges to overcome, as value for the individuals and organisations involved can be created or destroyed.


International mobility experts, Drs Alison Pearce and Rose Quan at Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University, are leading a large and complex research project that aims to improve the international mobility of young talent to enhance value creation for individuals and organisations, as well as drive economic development. Global Entrepreneurial Talent Management 3 (GETM3), a €950k EU Horizon 2020 project involving 16 partners in higher education and industry in Korea, Ireland, Poland, Slovenia and the UK. The partners include an intentional combination of large and small businesses and industry bodies, as well as eight universities.


The four-year project involves over 100 research staff, undertaking 272 month long international secondments. The study is set to produce a large body of data as each participant uses an online learning platform to record their assumptions/predictions before setting off, experiences while abroad and learnings on reflection after they return. Andy Garton at Northumbria’s International Development Office set up the platform using the mobility management software ‘MoveOn’.


Through analysis of how value is co-created or destroyed by secondees and the people they meet, the researchers will design and implement policies and processes in organisations and through industry bodies in the EU and Asia, measuring the improvement in value creation through short-term international mobility. The researchers will then leverage industry bodies to inform national and international policy, particularly for those businesses seeking to be more independently international than in the past.


The research is already having real-world impact on the management of mobility secondments, both those within the project and more widely in partner organisations in higher education and industry. “We have developed new processes and policies around the selection of people to undertake an international secondment, their preparation and briefing, management in location, and debriefing on return,” explains Dr Pearce. “These have been adopted by 16 higher education and industry partners alike in the project and we are now disseminating our experiences.” 


GETM3, as a frontrunner in talent management research, has also received academic recognition. ‘Wanting it all: the challenges of managing young talent in transition economies’ (Zupan, Dziewanowska, Pearce, 2018), one of the articles which underpins the project, was Highly Commended in the 2018 Emerald Publishing Literati Awards.

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