10 Remarkable Discoveries about Global Mobility in China

October 8, 2015 11:53:00 AM EDT | By: Michelle Dopps

With more global assignments in China than any other country in the Asia Pacific region, it’s no wonder that global mobility in China is a hot topic. There has been much discussion about assignments in China, but the greater subject of employee relocation into, out of and within China by both China and non-China based companies has been left relatively untouched.

As we hinted earlier this summer, Lexicon recently conducted a worldwide research survey to uncover new data and trends in global mobility in China and has since spent many hours analyzing and interpreting that information. Thanks to the more than 100 respondents at world-leading companies who consistently relocate employees inbound, outbound and domestically within China, we have been able to produce the most substantial and thorough survey report on global mobility practices in China.

Here, we’d like to share some of the most interesting discoveries we uncovered:


1. 96% of non-China headquartered companies relocate into Tier 1 cities, but only 25% of China headquartered companies are relocating employees into China from abroad.

2. Neither China nor non-China headquartered companies are relocating many employees into Tier 3/4 cities – just 12% for China and 10% of non-China.

3. Cross-border assignments from China to locations worldwide are more common than not among both types of companies, with 82% of non-China and 50% of China based companies relocating employees abroad from China.

4. Domestic China relocation is surprisingly well established across the board in China.

5. For the majority of both types of companies, the ownership of global mobility lies within human resources departments - talent management has not yet succeeded in gaining the critical linkage with global mobility.

6. An interesting juxtaposition: 42% of Non-China HDQ companies find mobility inbound to China to be the most challenging of assignment types, but 40% of their China counterparts find mobility outbound from China to be the most challenging.

7. The entire survey group was concerned about the lack of medical facilities across all tiers, but especially in Tiers 2 and 3/4. Other challenges noted include cultural differences, personal career development, education concerns and safety/security.

8. Tracking of assignment-related costs was much more common with non-China headquartered companies (72% vs. 13%). Many China companies noted that such tracking was a real challenge.

9. Similarly, China headquartered companies have very low instances of having formal global mobility policies and programs in place, which is the opposite of most non-China companies.

10. It appears that guaranteeing jobs upon repatriation may be on the rise. Both types of companies reported higher instances of this than was expected.

As these interesting discoveries show, a great deal has been learned about global mobility in China. And this just the tip of the iceberg!

Our full-scale survey report on China employee relocation practices examines the full breadth of mobility in China for both China and non-China headquartered companies.

It also answers many questions that this data presents and that you may have after reading this article (just what does Tier 1 mean, anyway?).

Click below to get your copy and access all of the data and analysis behind the findings discussed above.

(By the way – if you’re currently at Worldwide ERC’s Global Workforce Symposium, stop by our booth #728 for a hot-off-the-presses hard copy of the full report!)

Topics: global mobility, china assignments, China

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