Are Expat Jobs in Asia Becoming Extinct

Are expats in Asia a thing of the past? If recruitment experts in Asia are to be believed, many Western companies in Asia are now looking to fill key roles with local talent.

A report, which appeared in the Wall Street Journal, suggests that Western companies are now viewing the Asian talent as a key partner in their overseas operations and are filling important executive positions with locals in an attempt to create value chains that are focused on the local market.

According to analysis presented by Spencer Stuart, of the 1500 placements that were made between 2005 and 2010, three out of four senior executives were Asian natives and just 6% were noncitizens from overseas. Discussing the results in the Wall Street Journal, Arie Y. Lewin, a professor of strategy and international business at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business commented: “It’s a strategic necessity to be integrated in the culture. Otherwise, the time to learn all of it takes forever.”

In response to changing requirements and the need to identify and recruit executives that can add value to companies’ operations in Asia, Spencer Stuart and Korn/Ferry International have developed four new categories by which they can classify job applicants:

1. Asian natives who have a significant understanding of local customs and culture but have been educated overseas, in Europe or America.

2. Expats who have lived or worked in Asia for a long time.

3. People of Asian descent who were born or raised in a Western country but has had little exposure to Asia.

4. Local Asian executives who have no Western experience.

Of the four categories, it is the first category that is the most desirable for many firms but candidates of this nature can be hard to find, expensive to hire and often difficult to retain.

Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, Bob Damon, president of recruiter Korn/Ferry International’s North American operations, revealed that the availability of candidates in the first category is so limited that many Asian executives simply rotate from one Western company to another.


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