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    Posted 05-03-2023 11:10


    for a Special Issue of

    Journal of Global Mobility


    Cross-fertilization between global mobility and other fields  

    Paper submission deadline: October 31, 2023

    Guest Editors: 

    Mihaela Dimitrova, Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria

    David S. A. Guttormsen, University of South-Eastern Norway, Norway

    Margaret Shaffer, University of Oklahoma, USA

    How often do we see innovative and thought-provoking research on global mobility? Do findings from the global mobility and expatriate management field regularly inform and contribute to important developments in cognate disciplines? And vice versa, is the knowledge production in our field sufficiently curious about employing unexplored perspectives from other academic disciplines? Or are we stuck in a habit of rehashing the same old themes and theoretical models, making only limited contributions? 

    Following well-trodden paths runs the risk of becoming increasingly irrelevant by gradually losing practical importance and failing to keep up with changes in the global context of work. In recent years, the global employee mobility field along with the broader International Human Resource Management (IHRM) literature have been criticized for a narrow thematic and theoretical focus as well as for reaching a saturation point in certain areas – e.g., management of assigned expatriates and a focus on the MNE (e.g., Delbridge et al., 2011; Welch & Björkman, 2015). This has led to calls for more interdisciplinary research and for an increased effort to seek new inspirations to revitalize and broaden our scholarly discourse (e.g., Delbridge et al., 2011; Farndale et al., 2017). 

    Early global mobility research focused on making sense of new phenomena and due to a lack of suitable established theoretical frameworks, was quite interdisciplinary in its approaches (e.g., Black et al., 1991: model of expatriate adjustment; Takeuchi et al., 2002: work-family interface during expatriation). However, as a field matures it naturally becomes more inward-looking and self-referential (Buckley et al., 2017). Disciplinary traditions and structures are known for restricting thematic, theoretical, and methodological choices. This is of course helpful in providing frameworks, within which knowledge can accumulate in a coherent and systematic way. However, by relying on within-disciplinary paradigms, research advancement may stall and lose relevance. A continued inward focus may create epistemic bubbles and disciplinary silos, isolating the scholarly community from relevant and important developments in other fields. Hence, bridging such interdisciplinary silos is essential in promoting exchange of ideas and cross-fertilization (Aguinis & Gabriel, 2021; Chapple et al., 2020).

    There are continuing calls urging IHRM to seek cross-fertilization of theories and ideas across disciplinary divides and boundaries (e.g., Dickmann et al., 2023; Farndale et al., 2017). Similarly, rather than protecting its disciplinary boundaries, the global mobility field has more to gain by building bridges rather than walls, so as to facilitate synergies that can make a positive impact on research and society (Aguinis & Gabriel, 2021). Promoting boundary permeability is also important to help global mobility research make a broader cross-disciplinary impact. Such an interdisciplinary approach may even facilitate work on 'grand challenges' (e.g., migration and the broader and interrelated sustainable development goals) (Buckley et al., 2017; Ren et al., in press). Joining this movement towards cross-fertilization, this Special Issue will provide a platform for research on global mobility and global work that encourages researchers 1) to experiment with theories and paradigms from other disciplines and 2) to develop insights of broad interest to other fields. 

    Focus of the Special Issue

    With this Special Issue we aim to bring forth one of the aims of JGM – i.e., encouraging research that explores "new domains of global mobility" or presents "new insights gained from re-examining established topics". While we seek submissions that bridge disciplinary divides, papers should nevertheless fall within the scope of JGM, which includes research on global employees, such as assigned and self-initiated expatriates and other migrants crossing borders for work purposes, as well as other forms of global mobility (e.g., global virtual teams). For more details on JGM's aims and scope, please visit: https://emeraldgrouppublishing.com/journal/jgm?id=jgm

    We welcome submissions that purposefully aim to bridge disciplinary divides by importing and/or exporting thematic, theoretical, and methodological insights from and/or to other disciplines. 

    Importing and recontextualizing. Adopting, and preferably adapting, theoretical approaches can help explain less understood emerging phenomena or provide a new lens for re-examining established themes and concepts. Over the years, global mobility research has borrowed a variety of theories, particularly from organizational behavior and applied psychology, such as job-demands resources theory (e.g., Lazarova et al., 2010), conservation of resources theory (e.g., Dimitrova, 2020), or self-determination theory (e.g., Chen & Shaffer, 2017). Unfortunately, adopting newer theoretical developments is rare. Furthermore, rather than directly importing a theoretical perspective, it may be even more valuable to contextualize and reformulate theoretical approaches to create truly novel insights (Buckley et al., 2017).

    Looking for inspiration outside of the business field is also essential. For example, the literature on global migrants has a tradition in disciplines, such as political science, geography, development studies and economics, among others (Hajro et al., 2021). However, it is uncommon for studies in the international management field on other forms of global mobility (e.g., business expatriates, international business travelers) to seek insights from disciplines such as sociology and social anthropology (Klerck, 2014). Paradigms from related disciplines can spark new research avenues. For example, the New Mobilities paradigm, with roots in sociology (see Sheller, 2013), allows for going beyond a focus on the physical movement of people and opens complementary themes around the mobility of ideas and materiality (Guttormsen & Lauring, 2022).

    Cross-fertilization and contributing to other disciplines. Focusing on umbrella constructs – i.e., "broad concepts used to encompass and account for a diverse set of phenomena" (Hirsch & Levin, 1999, p. 199) – could be especially useful in bridging disciplines. Classic global mobility concepts, such as performance, learning, culture, and adjustment, are such umbrella constructs that are relevant to a variety of fields from international business to organizational behavior and sociology. Using a mix of interdisciplinary insights to re-examine these classic concepts can not only breathe new life into the global mobility field but also lead to cross-disciplinary contributions.

    Keeping in mind that global work is embedded in multiple contextual layers (e.g., organizations, countries, transnational institutions, etc.) can also facilitate cross-disciplinary insights. For example, there is a growing interest within strategy and organization theory research towards the study of microfoundations, which in part emphasizes the influence of an individual's cognitions and behaviors on firm-level outcomes (Felin et al., 2015). Moving towards explicitly connecting global employees' capabilities and behavior to strategically relevant outcomes, such as knowledge transfer and firm competitive advantage (e.g., Froese et al., 2021; Lazarova & Tarique, 2005), can broaden the impact of global mobility research. Going beyond the organization and considering the wider socio-economic and institutional context is also essential and likely to necessitate even broader cross-disciplinary work (Delbridge et al., 2011). 

    Creating linkages across the micro-macro divide is not an easy task and requires careful theorizing (Cowen et al., 2022), but such research is particularly valuable and practically relevant.

    Identifying new themes that emerge from the global work context, but still have significant relevance across disciplines, can offer opportunities for meaningful cross-fertilization. For example, the ongoing debates about different forms of expatriates and global mobility that have broadened the focus of research to include globally mobile employees who are not necessarily "highly skilled" and wealthy (McNulty & Brewster, 2020) can inform research on domestic employees. Cross-fertilization can also take form as a two-way venture, whereby investigations might emerge out of the interface of ideas between two or more disciplines or subject-fields. For example, our field has comparatively less focus on diversity and inclusion, whereas diversity scholars seldom engage with international employees as subjects in their research – a dialog between the two fields will thus be mutually beneficial.

    Finally, cross-fertilization can also occur with respect to methodologies. Our research field could particularly benefit from rethinking what types of data we consider relevant. We may need to move away from a focus on a fixed physical space (e.g., an expatriate's host country) towards better capturing the authentic nature of the expatriation phenomenon as inherently fluid and not bound to a physical location – for example, by collecting data about the nature of the journey between the home and host country or an expatriate's social interactions online (Elliot et al., 2017). In addition, emerging tools and methods can open new research avenues. For example, virtual reality technology can be used to mimic real-world phenomena in a controlled environment (Hubbard & Aguinis, 2023), which may make it easier to study important but difficult to capture phenomena, such as expatriate reactions to an acute terrorist threat or natural disaster in real time.

    Bridging disciplines and cross-fertilization sounds like a daunting task, which may deter authors from engaging in such research. Indeed, this requires integration across diverse bodies of work, but it may also be simply a matter of re-framing and seeing a phenomenon or a construct from a new angle. Thus, we encourage those interested in submitting to this Special Issue to take a critical look at their current research projects and evaluate whether their studies may already contain insights that are meaningful to research beyond the narrow field of global employee mobility. If that is indeed the case, we urge authors to work towards bringing out this broader contribution in their manuscript and putting it center stage. Furthermore, we encourage researchers to critically and reflexively evaluate if certain research questions, empirical contexts, perspectives, and voices remain hidden or silenced in our field due to falling outside the current paradigmatic delimitations, but which might come to light through interdisciplinary work (Guttormsen & Moore, 2023).

    Submission Process and Timeline

    To be considered for this Special Issue, manuscripts need to be submitted by October 31, 2023, 5:00 pm Central European Time. Papers may be submitted prior to this deadline as well. Submitted papers will undergo a double-blind review process and will be evaluated by at least two reviewers and a special issue editor. The final acceptance is dependent on the review team's judgment of the manuscript's contribution to the topic of the special issue. 

    Authors should prepare their manuscripts for blind review according to the Journal of Global Mobility author guidelines, available at www.emeraldinsight.com/jgm.htm. Please remove any information that may potentially reveal the identity of the authors to the reviewers. Manuscripts should be submitted electronically at: http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/jgmob. For enquiries regarding the special issue, please contact any of the guest editors. 

    Important dates

    Paper submission deadline: October 31, 2023

    Acceptance notification: July 2024

    Publication: September 2024


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    Professor Jan Selmer, Ph.D.
    Founding Editor-in-Chief
    Journal of Global Mobility (JGM)
    Department of Management, Aarhus University
    E-mail: selmer@mgmt.au.dk
    Twitter: @JanSelmer_JGM