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At the Forefront of Global HR Research



Professor Lisbeth Claus recently traveled to South Africa.  Watch her interview on the program "Beyond Markets" (click the link "Watch on YouTube" via the player below to watch complete interview):

From small not-for-profit organizations to multi-national conglomerates, management has become a global business.  Even with the rise in technology, organizations large and small send their employees (and their families) around the world for international assignments of varying length and scope.

When global events unfold, who is responsible for the health, safety and security of these globally mobile employees abroad?  Lisbeth Claus, Professor of Global Human Resources, has spent the last three years answering this important question.  Through her work with International SOS, an agency assisting organizations with duty of care issues, she has developed strategies for organizations looking for answers to global human resource challenges.

In her recent global benchmarking study, Professor Claus surveyed more than 600 organizations around the world about their familiarity with duty of care (DOC) issues and the extent of their strategic planning around their DOC obligations for employees.  She discovered that over 95% of companies surveyed sent employees on business trips to “high-risk” locations in the previous year.  High growth, high potential BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) were perceived among the top 10 locations as having the highest medical and security risk factors.

The study also revealed that although managers are aware of the crucial need to keep employees safe and secure during international travel, one third were not aware of any formal policies governing DOC issues within their organizations.  There were also differences between industries and company size –on the type of risks faced by employees.   While natural and human-made disasters—such as terrorism and kidnapping—affect employees, the most common occurrences relate to illness, infectious diseases, and road and work accidents.

This global benchmarking study, the first empirical study of its kind, opens the conversation for organizations like International SOS to respond to and deliver customized and integrated service solutions for global clients.  Without this type of strategic planning, Claus discovered, organizations can actually be held liable for their (in)actions and negligent failure to plan (specific laws depend on the country of origin).

Claus’ work has made a tremendous impact around the world and is considered by the industry to have set standards for global companies in protecting their traveling employees.  She’s also delivered her presentation on duty of care to organizations and managers on five continents.

At the Atkinson Graduate School, Claus translates her important research into resume-building projects for her students.  In the “Advanced Global HR” experiential course (part of the Early Career/Career Change MBA), her students work with real organizations to solve real problems facing them at a global level.  The hands-on projects that come out of the class fill a critical need in the businesses, not-for-profits and government agencies– and Willamette MBA students are active participants in the process.