The Worth of International Experience during Education for Potential Employers. Some Hypotheses and Experimental Evidence

Thursday, 14 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal III (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Distributed Paper
Knut PETZOLD, Catholic University of Eichstatt-Ingolstadt, Germany
In relation with the internationalization of economies it is often argued that highly flexible and internationally experienced workforce is becoming more and more important. Thus, governments undertake some remarkable efforts to motivate future professionals to spend a period abroad. However, experience in international mobility as specific resources for labour market success in globalization has hardly been investigated empirically. In the presentation we will specifically focus on the assessment of international student mobility by potential employers.

The question suggests a reference to typical labour market theories, such as job market signalling and human capital. At a first glance, we can expect a positive evaluation of international educational experience by employers with these theories. However, individual productivity can also be signalized by other characteristics and knowledge acquired in an international environment can also be understood as specific instead of general human capital. A second consideration is therefore that the worth of international educational experience may vary with the grade of internationalization respectively regionalization of the company.

The assumptions are tested with data from a factorial survey experiment. Companies of various sizes and industries were surveyed with an online questionnaire wherein characteristics relevant for the labour market of fictitious graduates have been varied experimentally and presented randomly to human resource managers. With the obtained data the influences of classical features, such as graduation and practical experience, and international experience during education, such as study abroad, internship abroad or just travelling,  upon the employment intention of the participating managers can be compared directly. The results provide evidence that international mobility during education is not generally perceived as separating signal or as general human capital by human resource managers, but that the perceived worth is moderated by the internationalization of the companies. This leads to some considerations about a global-local labour market segmentation.