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There is a Great Divide in How China Approaches Global Mobility Compared to their Foreign Headquartered Counterparts

10.15.15 | By: Michelle Dopps

Lexicon’s China Global Mobility 360° Survey  – A  Full-Scale Survey of China Employee Relocation Practices, discovered key trends in how China headquartered companies differed from their foreign headquartered counterparts in their global mobility practices.

Global-Relocation-Survey_CoverThe survey is the first to examine all types of mobility in China - into, out of and domestically within China – and is also the first to draw responses from both foreign headquartered companies operating in China as well as China headquartered companies operating globally. The Lexicon study found that relocation into China is strongly established among Non-China headquartered companies with 96 percent performing inbound relocations into China’s Tier 1 cities while only 25 percent of China headquartered companies reported activity inbound into Tier 1.

Again in stark contrast, Non-China headquartered companies foresee the greatest volume of future growth to be into Beijing and Shanghai, whereas China headquartered companies expect no future growth for inbound mobility into China’s Tier 1 cities.

Tier Cities for this survey were defined as follows:

Tier 1 —Tier 1 cities for this survey’s purpose are Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and Guangzhou.

Tier 2 — This grouping includes the more developed provincial capitals and sub-provincial cities with higher populations and lower incomes than Tier 1 cities. Tier 2 cities for this survey’s purpose are Chengdu, Chongqing, Dalian, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Ningbo, Qingdao, Shenyang, Suzhou, Tianjin, Xi’an, Wuhan and Wuxi.

Tiers 3 & 4 — These cities are made up of less developed county-level capitals and any location not listed in Tier 1 & 2.

For the survey, Lexicon partnered with Enfovia, China’s leading HR meeting organization. Through this partnership Lexicon gained access to Enfovia’s more than 400 corporate members and 10,000 individual members. Enfovia assisted in the prioritization of questioning as well as the translation and distribution of the survey in both Chinese and English.  This partnership enabled us to examine the China companies’ approach to global workforce development and global mobility for the first time.

Additional compelling trends discovered in the survey findings were:

1. Cross-border assignments outbound from China to locations worldwide are more common than might be expected among both types of companies, with 82 percent of Non-China and 50 percent of China based companies relocating employees abroad from China

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

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

Avrom Goldberg, senior vice president, global solutions and co-commissioner of the survey said “Previous surveys that examined global mobility in China focused almost exclusively on assignments into China. It’s not surprising as China is the number one destination for global assignments in the Asia Pacific region; however, this singular focus has neglected a vast segment of relocation types and fully ignored the demographic of China based companies.”

“The Lexicon survey offers a holistic view across the segments and tiers for domestic, inbound and outbound, policies and practices of both foreign companies and China headquartered companies,” Goldberg said.  “More importantly, non-China based companies and China headquartered companies have had no visibility or way of comparing practices, which is critical in attracting top talent.”

Survey Methodology: 

The China Global Mobility 360° Survey – A Full-Scale Survey of China Employee Relocation Practices, was an online survey of more than 150 world leading companies who consistently relocate employees inbound, outbound and domestically within China. These companies set the standard and trends in relocation.

This full survey report is available online and provides expert analysis and comparison of data of the China and non-China based survey results. Lexicon experts examine the overall differences and trends impacting China global mobility practices. The report highlight several compelling data trends that we believe will assist readers in better understanding the quickly evolving environment for global mobility in China.

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