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Examining Expatriation

A Survey about Female Austrian Expatriate "Man"agers

©2003 Diplomarbeit 126 Seiten


Expatriation is of considerable significance to the success of many multinational corporations. In this thesis, the status quo of women in Austria is illustrated based upon economic, educational, labor and cultural indices. Research in the area of international human resource management - and particularly on female expatriate managers - and its applicability on the situation in Austria is examined. In an empirical survey, interviews with female Austrian expatriate managers are analyzed to identify the most crucial problem areas, barriers, and biases women have to overcome on foreign assignments. Recommendations are provided for human resource executives and potential female expatriate managers.
Auslandsentsendungen von Managern sind von entscheidender Bedeutung für international tätige Unternehmen. In dieser Diplomarbeit wird der Status Quo von Frauen in Österreich anhand von Daten über Wirtschaft, Ausbildung, Arbeit und Kultur dargestellt. Forschungsarbeiten im Bereich des internationalen Personalmanagements - im Besonderen in Bezug auf Frauen als Auslandsentsandte - und ihre Anwendbarkeit auf Österreich werden untersucht. In einer empirischen Studie werden Interviews mit weiblichen österreichischen Auslandsentsandten analysiert und die wichtigsten Problembereiche, Hürden und Vorurteile dargestellt, mit denen die Managerinnen konfrontiert wurden. Weiters werden Empfehlungen an Personalverantwortliche und zukünftige weibliche Expatriates gegeben.

Inhaltsverzeichnis:Table of Contents:
2.1Economic Situation9
2.1.1Gross Domestic Product9
2.1.2Company Structure11
2.1.3Imports and Exports13
2.1.4Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)15
2.2Labor, Educational, and Social Status Quo of Women in Austria and theEU18
2.2.1Female Employment18
2.2.2Part-Time Employment21
2.2.4Women in Management25
2.2.5Gender Specific Pay Gaps28
2.2.6Summary and Outlook30
2.3The Austrian Culture32
2.3.1Culture and Business Culture32
2.3.2Cultural Implications for Women in Austrian Management38
3.1Examining Expatriation40
3.1.1Staffing Approaches, International Human Resource Management, and Strategic Necessity of Expatriation40
3.1.2Motives for Expatriation42
3.1.3The Expatriation […]





1.1. Situation
1.2. Goals
1.3. Questions
1.4. Procedure

2.1. Economic Situation
2.1.1. Gross Domestic Product
2.1.2. Company Structure
2.1.3. Imports and Exports
2.1.4. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)
2.2. Labor, Educational, and Social Status Quo of Women in Austria and the EU
2.2.1. Female Employment
2.2.2. Part-Time Employment
2.2.3. Education
2.2.4. Women in Management
2.2.5. Gender Specific Pay Gaps
2.2.6. Summary and Outlook
2.3. The Austrian Culture
2.3.1. Culture and Business Culture
2.3.2. Cultural Implications for Women in Austrian Management

3.1. Examining Expatriation
3.1.1. Staffing Approaches, International Human Resource Management, and Strategic Necessity of Expatriation
3.1.2. Motives for Expatriation
3.1.3. The Expatriation Process
3.2. Female Expatriation: Myths, Barriers, Problem Areas, and Questions
3.2.1. Selection
3.2.2. Decision Among Different Lifestyle Opportunities / Dual Career Issues
3.2.3. Lack of Access to Networks, Female Role Models, Mentors
3.2.4. Self-Perception and Behavior
3.2.5. Coping Strategies
3.2.6. Review
3.2.7. Summary

4.1. Sample
4.2. Qualitative Method
4.3. Limitations
4.4. Situation and Status Quo of Austrian Female Expatriate “Man”agers
4.4.1. Question 1 – Being Female: Advantageous or Disadvantageous
4.4.2. Question 2 – Advantages and Disadvantages in Detail
4.4.3. Question 3 – Different Roles
4.4.4. Question 4 – Prejudice in Domestic Surroundings
4.4.5. Question 5 – Prejudice in Host Countries
4.4.6. Question 6 – Problem Areas in the Course of Foreign Assignments
4.4.7. Question 7 – Single or Married
4.4.8. Question 8 – Experiences with Being Alone Abroad
4.4.9. Question 9 – Self-Esteem and Behavior
4.4.10. Question 10 – Coping Strategies
4.4.11. Question 11 – Resources
4.4.12. Networking
4.4.13. Summary

5.1.1. Recommendations to Potential Female Expatriate Managers
5.1.2. Recommendations to Human Resource Executives





Figure 1: GDP 2001 at current prices, %-shares

Figure 2: Origin of GDP by sectors 2001

Figure 3: GDP per capita 2001

Figure 4: Proportion of companies

Figure 5: Austria’s foreign trade in 2001 according to geographic area

Figure 6: Female employment across the EU

Figure 7: Part-time rates

Figure 8: Highest completed education

Figure 9: Factors that would contribute to the reconcilableness of work and family/children

Figure 10: The corporate cultural environment

Figure 11: Culture shock cycle

Figure 12: Percentage of selection criteria used by MNCs

Figure 13: Review of issues, literature, and questions

Figure 14: Single-strip resolution

Figure 15: Perceived advantages/disadvantages of femaleness


Table 1: Company structure

Table 2: Foreign trade in Austria

Table 3: FDI in Austria

Table 4: Austrian FDI

Table 5: Categories of selection criteria

Table 6: Assignment details of the 18 interviewees


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1.1. Situation

The placement of managers who can meet both local and international business challenges is of particular significance to the competitiveness of multinational corporations. Since the internationalization process of Austrian companies is still fledgling, human resource executives widely lack experience in expatriate issues; particularly when it comes to assigning women. Therefore, the selection and decision-making process frequently relies on assumptions, perceptions, and clichés. Although the number of women in management has slowly been increasing, female managers are still scarce in Austria – they are even more so in the international arena. This situation calls for exploratory research in order to ameliorate expatriation issues in the future.

1.2. Goals

The aim of this thesis is to portray the situation of Austrian female expatriate top and middle managers and to deduce knowledge about obstacles and biases women had to master in order to break into the male domain of foreign assignments and – above all - to perform successfully in the international context. Research in the area of international human resource management has mainly been conducted by Americans and has primarily dealt with expatriation from the Northern American area. It therefore rather provides an American than an international perspective. Thus, the practical validity of results deriving from the existing literature will be empirically examined as regards their applicability to Europe and especially to Austria. Since the experience of female Austrian expatriates has only been analyzed in some studies (such as Fischlmayr, 1999, 2002; Fischlmayr & Hofbauer, 2002; Fischlmayr & Schroll-Machl, 2003 in print), this study valuably contributes to domestic research on female expatriation.

1.3. Questions

In order to portray the situation of female Austrian expatriate managers, problem oriented narrative interviews were conducted. Even though qualitative research evokes some critique, it is ideal to gather data to provide valuable insights into individual perceptions and experiences. Prevailing literature has led to the following key questions, which will be answered in the empirical survey:

- Did the female Austrian expatriates attribute being female as generally (rather) advantageous or as (rather) disadvantageous with regard to their foreign assignment?
- Which particular advantages and disadvantages did the interviewees experience by virtue of their femaleness?
- How did the interviewees perceive the different roles (both form a professional and private viewpoint) they took in the host countries compared to the domestic environment and how did they handle these differences?
- Did the interviewees encounter prejudice on the part of their domestic human resource executives?
- Did they encounter prejudice in their host countries by virtue of their identities as women/foreign managers/female managers?
- Which problems did the interviewed female Austrian expatriate managers face in foreign countries?
- Is the proportion of single Austrian female expatriates higher compared to married ones?
- Which typical barriers did the female Austrian expatriates encounter who relocated either as singles or without their partners and how did they feel about being alone?
- Which overall impression did arise about the interviewed female Austrian managers’ self-esteem and behavior?
- Which coping strategies did the surveyed female Austrian expatriate managers apply?
- Which resources did the interviewees use to cope with their problems?

1.4. Procedure

As announced above, this thesis is based on a theoretical examination of literature about women expatriate managers and an empirical survey of female Austrian management expatriates. The theoretical part comprises a literature review as well as background facts and figures about the situation of female (international) managers in Austria and serves as a means to set up a framework for the interviews.

In order to develop an understanding of the topic, the theoretical part first examines Austria’s traditional foreign interweavements, the “typical” company organization structure of both private and public corporations, and its impact on women in management. Beyond that, facts and figures indicating the economic, educational and labor situation in Austria, as well as labor force participation rates will be analyzed and compared to EU average. A glimpse will be provided at the Austrian culture following different cultural index models. An explanation for the relative scarcity of female (international) managers in Austria will be sought.

After a brief and general insight into expatriation, the selection of female expatriates, additional barriers they encounter on foreign assignments, as well as myths and stereotypes about women as expatriates are examined. Topics such as companies refusing to send women abroad, stereotypes about women not wanting to go on a foreign assignment, dual career issues, marital status/family situation and commitment/work-family relation, and foreigners’ prejudices are in the centre of interest. In this part, the previously listed questions will be elaborated based on academic literature in order to provide a basis for the empirical study and thus to measure the applicability of prevailing research opinions in the Austrian context.

The empirical study (narrative interviews based on an interview guideline following Sylvia Schroll-Machl 2002 in order to render both surveys comparable) will answer the questions and draw a detailed picture about the situation of Austrian female expatriate managers. The points of agreement and disagreement with international theoretical research findings, respectively their applicability to Austria will be identified. Finally, recommendations mainly based upon empirical findings, as well as experiences of the interviewed female Austrian expatriate managers will be given to both personnel managers and (future) female expatriates.

2. The situation in austria

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2.1. Economic Situation

By virtue of its geographic location, which turns it into a springboard to Central and Eastern Europe, and its small size, Austria has a long standing and intense tradition as regards foreign trade. Even for small economies, such as Austria, with a population of only 8 million, international interweavements have become a vital part of daily business.

2.1.1. Gross Domestic Product

The nominal GDP generated by all sectors in 2001 totaled 189.2 billion USD at current prices; real GDP (at 1995 prices and exchange rates) amounted to 235.2 billion USD in 1995 and 270.2 billion USD in 2001. This represents a 14.9% increase compared to 1995 (Wirtschaftskammern Österreichs, 2002b, p. 8).

As figure 1 indicates, Austria accounted for 2.4% of the EU gross domestic product in 2001 (GDP at current prices).

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Figure 1: EU GDP 2001 at current prices, %-shares (Wirtschaftskammern Österreichs, 2002b, p. 8)

The GDP generated by all sectors in 2001 totaled 210 billion € at current prices. Figure 2 provides information about the origin of GDP by economic sectors.

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Figure 2: Origin of GDP by sectors 2001 (% share of total value added) (Wirtschaftskammern Österreichs, 2002, p. 19)

The origin of GDP (at current prices) in 2001 was 4.32 billion € from the primary sector, which corresponds to 2.2% of GDP, 62.41 billion € from the secondary sector (31.5% of GDP), and 131.33 billion € from the tertiary sector, which equals 66.3% of the 2001 gross domestic product (OeNB, 2002d, p. 30; Wirtschaftskammern Österreichs, 2002b, p. 19).

Figure 3 shows the GDP per capita in 2001 (USD at purchasing power parities) compared to the other EU member states as well as to the United States and Japan.

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Figure 3: GDP per capita 2001 (Wirtschaftskammern Österreichs, 2002b, p. 9)

Gross domestic product per capita at current prices and exchange rates amounted to 23,315 USD, at current prices and purchasing power parities to 27,803 USD (Wirtschaftskammern Österreichs, 2002b, p. 9). As figure 3 clearly illustrates, with reference to the GDP per capita, Austria is counted amongst the richest states world-wide (rank 14); within the EU, it ranks fifth after Luxembourg, Denmark, Ireland and the Netherlands (Wirtschaftskammern Österreichs, 2003b, p. 2).

2.1.2. Company Structure

On account of lacking private capital after World War II, many of the big Austrian companies were nationalized. Since on the one hand, governmental-led companies usually have rigid structures, and on the other, business’ major focus lay on the national arena, they were lagging behind in their internationalization steps for long. Many of today’s few Austrian MNCs were guided from national to private ownership in a step-by-step process.

Since the entry into the European Union in 1995, Austria has implemented pervasive structural changes by liberalizing the telecommunications and energy sector and by privatizing banks and many industries. Beyond that, cross-national interweavements – as in the areas of food, trade, building, and banking industry – describe relative novelties and modify traditional structures (Wirtschaftskammern Österreichs, 2003b, p. 2).

Table 1 compares the amount of Austrian companies with reference to their size (number of employees) in 1990 with that of 2002.

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Table 1: Company structure (Wirtschaftskammern Österreichs, 2003a, p. 17)

The Austrian economy has ever since been characterized by a high rate of SMEs, as table 1 clearly illustrates. 160 companies employed more than 1,000 persons in 2002, whereas the majority (more than 200,000) employed solely 1 to 9 people (Wirtschaftskammern Österreichs, 2003b, p. 3). Figure 4 shows the proportions of Austrian companies categorized into four different classes: 1 to 9, 10 to 49, 50 to 299, and more than 300 employees.

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Figure 4: Proportion of companies (Wirtschaftskammern Österreichs, 2003a, p. 17)

Antal and Izraeli made the point that the structure of the economy in a country with reference to the ratio of small to large companies is a relevant factor in women’s opportunities. They explain their point in the following way:

In economies with few very large corporations and many small companies, the latter will offer more employment opportunities for women – with correspondingly short career ladders to climb (1993, p. 60).

Obviously, this definitely applies to the situation of women in Austria. Multinationals are rare and though the Austrian economy has strong ties to other countries, and a longstanding tradition of extensive foreign trade (as the following chapter will reveal), almost 84% of the companies do not even employ ten people. Apparently, career ladders tend to be short in small companies, a fact which exerts a mainly negative impact on the increase of women in domestic – and even the more in foreign - executive positions. Given the high costs and uncertainties regarding international assignments, small companies frequently do not perceive need of or cannot afford expatriation. The assumption that mainly medium and big companies can on the one hand afford and on the other benefit from foreign managerial assignments – and are thus generally able to offer more international career opportunities to women - is supported by the fact that most of the Austrian interviewees in the empirical study were assigned from such corporations.

2.1.3. Imports and Exports

On account of its extensive foreign trade, Austria’s economy is strongly interwoven with that of other countries. In 2001, exports of goods and services accounted for 52.2% and imports for 52.6% of Austria’s real GDP. Since Austrian exports increased more than EU exports, Austria could raise its export market share in EU exports despite the slowdown in international foreign trade in 2001. Austria’s export share equaled to 3.2% in 2001, having continuously improved since its 2.88% in 1995 (OeNB, 2002d, p. 35). Table 2 displays ongoing growth of goods exports and imports from 1990, 1995, 2000 and 2001.

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Table 2: Foreign trade in Austria (OeNB, 2002, p. 35)

The commodity breakdown of Austria’s foreign trade has become considerably more balanced over the past years. Compared to 2000, the 2001 balance of payments current account posted a deficit of 4.6 billion €, which corresponds to 2.2% of GDP, and which is an improvement of 0.7 billion €. This is due to a slight improvement of the good and services export performance (OeNB, 2002d, p. 35).

The geographical breakdown of Austria’s foreign trade indicates a market concentration on Western Europe and the EU, with the countries of Central and

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Figure 5: Austria’s foreign trade in 2001 according to area (OeNB, 2002d, p. 37)

Eastern Europe recently gaining importance as well. Figure 5 indicates Austria’s foreign trade according to geographic area in 2001.

Goods and services from European countries accounted for 84.6% of total Austrian imports in 2001, with 60.8% coming from EU countries, amongst which Germany again took a vital role (32.5%). In 1997, imports from the EU amounted to 68.7% (thereof 41.6% from Germany). The EU and particularly Germany has therefore experienced a decrease in importance as regards Austrian imports since 1997, whereas imports from Eastern European countries rose from 11.2% to 17.2%. In 2001, exports to Europe made up 82.9% of the total Austrian export volume, with 65.4% (1997: 61.9%) of exports to EU member states. Taking a look at individual countries, the biggest demand for Austrian goods and services in 2001 arose in Germany, amounting to 40.5% of total exports (1997: 34.9%). Although Germany’s role as regards Austrian imports has decreased, it has become an even more important export partner. 13.2% of exports go to Eastern European countries (a decrease compared to 17.7 in 1997), where in 2001, Austria’s most important trade partners in the East were Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovenia. The United States account solely for 5.3% of exported Austrian goods and services (OeNB, 1998, p. 19 ff.; 2002d, p. 24 ff).

2.1.4. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)

Mergers and acquisitions as well as cross-border and international interweavements have led to acceleration in foreign direct investment. The increase of “inward” FDI of 9.3 billion € in 2000 compared to 1999, as well as the augmentation of Austrian “outward” FDI of 7.6 billion € in the comparison period, marked the highest levels in 2000 (OeNB, 2002a, p. 1). Below, a closer examination of FDI growth, sources, and targets is portrayed.

Geographic proximity, close historic ties, and cultural proximity to Germany account for continuously rising German direct investments in Austria: As displayed in table 3, German direct investment volume amounted to 15,295 billion € in 2000, which corresponded to 47% of FDI into Austria (OeNB, 2002b, p. 1).

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Table 3: FDI in Austria (OeNB , 2002b, p. 1)

Total FDI flows into Austria have increased continuously and, in 2000, accounted for 32,704 billion €, whereof – to cite the major contributors - 78% were invested by the 15 member states of the European Union, 10% by other European states, and 6 % by the United States (OeNB, 2002b, p. 1).

Another notable factor in Austrian history was its close ties to Central and Eastern Europe in times when it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Even though direct investment to Eastern European countries was rendered impossible for decades, the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 facilitated Austrian direct investment in these states. Beyond that, the shift in the political situation towards the end of the century (EU-membership since 1995, integration of CEE states, etc.) has boosted FDI in the emerging Eastern economies.

As shown in table 4, Austrian FDI into Central and Eastern Europe amounted to 8,026 billion € in 2000, which corresponded to 30% of total Austrian FDI (OeNB, 2002c, p. 1). The statistics published by the Federal Economic Chamber put the total number of Austrian companies established in Eastern Europe at 11,833 in 2000 compared to a mere 921 in 1990 (OeNB, 2002d, p. 25).

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Table 4: Austrian FDI (OeNB , 2002c, p. 1)

As table 4 shows, not only foreign direct investment in Austria has increased continuously, but so has Austrian FDI (even if the respective investment rates paint a quite different picture compared to “inward” FDI). In 2000, Austrian “outward” FDI accounted for 26,674 billion €, whereof 42% were invested in the 15 EU-member states (including Germany with an Austrian FDI rate of 19%), 30% in CEE countries and 15% in America (OeNB, 2002c, p. 1). The EU-15, and above all Germany (47% and 19% respectively), are the most important partners as regards both “inward” and “outward” FDI (78% and 42 % respectively). Rank number two in “inward” FDI goes to other Western European countries (10%), whereas CEE countries with 30% take this position in Austrian FDI and the full potential has not been tapped yet.

Amongst CEE states, Austrian FDI has increased most in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Beyond traditional “outward” FDI-countries such as Poland and Hungary, investments have been raised in Croatia, Slovenia, Romania and Russia (OeNB, 2002b, p. 1 f.). This trend is also reflected in the empirical part of this thesis, with a majority of (potential) interviewees having been assigned to Central and Eastern Europe.

Compared to 1999, the number of people who were employed by foreign enterprises increased to 251,200 (+10%) in 2000. Austrian investors provided 248.600 jobs world-wide, which equals a 25% increase. Therewith, Austrian foreign subsidiaries employ approximately the equivalent of people as foreign companies in Austria (OeNB, 2002a, p. 1).

2.2. Labor, Educational, and Social Status Quo of Women in Austria and the EU

The following subchapter provides an insight into the situation and status-quo of women in the EU and particularly in Austria. Causes for the scarcity of females in Austrian (and above all international) management will be established based on education and labor statistics as well as social facts. These shall contribute to raised awareness and a better understanding of the empirical study in chapter 4.

2.2.1. Female Employment

The Austrian population has grown to 8.11 million (+17%) in the second half of the 20th century. As a result of higher life expectancy, Austrian women account for 51% of the total population (Statistik Austria, 2002, p. 19).

Until the late 1970s, female managers were virtually invisible in most countries. In the 1980s, the under-representation of women in management emerged as a problem. Various forces, such as globalization, skill shortage, rising educational status of women, and their increased labor force participation contributed to this change of view. Antal & Izraeli (1993, p. 52) observed succinctly:

It [the under-representation of women in positions of power] became an item on the public agenda of industrialized countries – albeit not one of high priority.

In 1974, the European Community established a Social Action Program with the central aim of promoting women’s rights. The distinction between men and women in the area of employment, professional education, promotion, and social security schemes should be abolished (Linehan, 2000, p. 7). In Austria, equal employment legislation was enacted in 1985 (Antal & Izraeli, 1993, p. 74).

It is estimated that almost a fifth of the annual GDP growth (2.3%) of the European Union is a result of women’s increased participation in the labor force. Yet gender inequalities are substantial, as the female employment rate (53%) in the EU still lies 18.2% below the male rate and female unemployment is 3 percentage points higher than that of men. The labor market is segregated by gender, with women concentrated in certain occupations and men in others. Finally, when women are employed, they earn less than men, accounting for 77% of low-income employees (European Commission, 2001a, p. 14).

Plantenga & Hansen (2001, p. 273) also noted that the position of women on the EU-labor market merits particular attention to further maintain the prosperity of the Union’s member states. They recommend members to commit to tackling gender gaps and take action to facilitate the integration of women and men in the labor market.

Since 1950, the number of gainfully employed women in Austria has increased continuously: In 1981, 42.4% of gainfully employed people were women, in 1991 their share increased to 45.1% and to 49.4% in 1995 (BMF, 1995, p. 325; Eurostat, 1997, p. 6f.). Women’s participation in the labor force has enhanced observably since the 1950s: In 1951, 49% of women were employed, 54% in 1981, 58% in 1991, and yet 62% of the Austrian women were working in 2000 (Albrecht et al., 2002, p. 27 ff.; Statistik Austria, 2002, p. 34). For 2010, predictions assume 70% of women to be employed (BMF, 1995, p. 325; Eurostat, 1997, p. 6f.). However, a rising level of female labor force participation is no assurance of women’s representation in positions of power.

Figure 6 depicts the status quo of female employment across the EU member states in 2000.

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Figure 6: Female employment across the EU (Wirtschaftskammern Österreichs, 2002a, p. 1)

Recent years have seen a rush of women into the labor market and thereof rising female labor force participation rates in all EU member states. Interestingly, some Nordic countries (Denmark and Sweden) possess the highest female labor force participation rates. As figure 6 shows, in these states about three quarters of women are gainfully employed, with 76.4% in Sweden and 75.8% in Denmark (Wirtschaftskammern Österreichs, 2002a, p. 1). This may be rooted in the fact that part-time employment is common in these countries: Swedish women’s part-time employment rate measured against total employment ranges at 36%; in Denmark it makes up 35.1%; and in the Netherlands even 70.5% (Europäische Kommission, 2001c, p. 38 ff.). A positive correlation between the employment ratio and the number of female part-time employees between 15 and 64 was observed by Eurostat (1993, p. 11; 1997a, p. 9; 1997b, p. 5).

2.2.2. Part-Time Employment

Figure 7 depicts the development of part-time work over the years, from 1975 to 2000. In 1975, 145,800 women were working part-time, whereas until 2000 this number has almost tripled to 415,200 (Statistik Austria, 2002, p. 50).

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Figure 7: Part-time rates (Statistik Austria, 2002, p. 50)

Compared to a 39% increase in the female labor participation between 1971 and 2000, the female ratio of part-time employment has more than doubled from 14% to 29% compared to 1975. Whereas even though the percentage of part-time employed men has tripled, the percentage of part-time employed men remains considerably low at only 3%. Interestingly, the highest female rates of part-time employees range at an average of 40% between the age of 30 to 44 years (38%), which might be a result of child bearing and child rearing (Statistik Austria, 2002, p. 51).

Obviously, marital status does not affect working hours of men, but for women, part-time employment increases with marriage and children, as this implies time dedicated to husband, children, household and job as well. Asked about the reasons for their part-time employment, 6 of 10 women name childcare and family as the driving forces (Statistik Austria, 2002, p. 52). The more children to care for, the higher is the rate of part-time employment. However, since qualified work in Austria is generally not perceived as divisible – which is manifested in the “taboo” on part-time positions in management - flexible working contracts and more institutions for child-care (particularly for children under the age of three) will be crucial to strengthen female career prospects (Fischlmayr, 1999, p. 117; Antal & Izraeli, 1993, p. 65).

Sweden could serve as a role model in this area: The state provides one year of protection of motherhood at 80% of the earnings. Furthermore, parents who work or study are supported with childcare facilities from the age of one. Beyond that, parents with small children dispose of the opportunity of reducing their working time to 30 hours per week (Messing, 1998, p. 2).

Generally, the more children, the more likely women are to absolutely renounce to gainful employment. However, these figures diverge within the EU as they are rooted in culture, the traditional role of women and family models, and the amount of childcare and care for elder family member facilities. Beyond that, the decision whether to stay at home or to work (full or part-time) is also determined by the individual economic, educational, and social situation.

However, women have less time to dedicate to leisure activities than men and devote more hours to household work and childcare. Indisputably, the higher the woman’s educational level, the bigger is the time budget spent at work, and the lower the number of hours to look after the family, children, and household, as well as to enjoy leisure time activities (Fellner, 1992, p. 47, cited in Fischlmayr, 1999, p. 118f.).

2.2.3. Education

Unquestionably, education exerts a strong influence on employment. As Fischlmayr (1999, p. 122) puts it: “The better the education, the more women decide to work, independent of whether they have children or not”. The following figure portrays educational data of women and men in 1971, respectively in 2000.

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Figure 8: Highest completed education (Statistik Austria, 2002, p. 28)

Even if the amount of women who “solely” completed compulsory education before entering their working life has declined notably within the past thirty years, and women have entered higher levels of education, disadvantages for women have not yet been abolished. In principle, all educational opportunities stand open to both genders; however, gender specific differences are still observable mainly in the low educational areas (Statistik Austria, 2002, p. 28 ff.).

In 1970/71 only one quarter of students was female, whereas the female proportion of students in 2000/01 amounted to yet 51% (Albrecht et al., 2002, p. 602 ff., Statistik Austria, p. 32). The trend towards higher levels of education portrays a faster rate of growth in university students for women than for their male counterparts in all industrialized countries (Linehan, 2000, p. 32).

Notwithstanding, gender gaps prevail with respect to the choice of studies: Technical fields pertain to be a male domain, whereas the humanities represent the female preference with 40% (Statistik Austria, 2002, p. 28 ff.). This segregation also became obvious when seeking interviewees for the empirical study presented in chapter 4: A considerable number of companies replied to the inquiry that their major business area was technology and hence, they do not dispose of any women in higher company levels.

Across the EU member states, 20% of all persons in the employable age disposed of a university degree in 2000, while 38% solely possessed low qualification. The ratio of highly educated ranged – depending on the individual member – between 8% and 27%, with an EU average of 19% (12% in Austria); the ratio of less qualified lay between 18% and 77%, with an average of 38% (28% in Austria). All members of the Union note a considerably higher employment ratio regarding people with high education and qualification (Europäische Kommission, 2001c, p. 22 ff.). The gender differences in employment ratio decrease the higher the professional education. However, the dissimilarities as to the same educational level increase above the age of 40. Again, the Nordics build an exception (Eurostat, 1997a, p. 9).

Generally, the higher the educational level and thus also the social status, the more feasible it is to “outsource” household or childcare activities (cleaning lady, nanny, etc.). However, the better a woman’s educational and professional qualifications, the higher the likelihood to remain single. The peculiarity of career women – who have to abandon or at least subordinate marriage, family life and children - persists.

Following Fellner (1996, p. 165 ff., cited in Fischlmayr, 1999, p. 121), 64% of girls and women in Austria state the realization of their desired and intended career paths as their main future target, whereas marriage and children rank second in their priorities.

For women, part time employment increases with marriage and childcare. Seemingly, marriage provides more advantages for men than it does for women: A wife usually does most of the housework and looks after the children. Hence, married men are able to work overtime to strengthen their career prospects. Fischlmayr & Hofbauer (2002, p. 7) comment on this peculiarity:

They somewhat ‘invent’ a new criterion of performance, long working hours, and attempt to impose this traditionally ‘male’ resource as a means of distinction and gender separation. They expand working hours to an extent that it makes hard for women to engage in the career game.

Hegewisch and Mayne (1994, cited in Linehan, 2000, p. 31) observed that across the EU member states, there are strong differences in reference to employers’ equality measures. They put up for discussion whether the European equality legislation has had a positive impact on the female position in the workforce, given the continued employment inequality of women, as demonstrated by their low share of leading positions, continuous pay gaps, and the persistently rigid segregation between men’s and women’s work. Research by Davidson and Cooper (1992, cited in Linehan, 2000, p. 3) also reported that, in general, women in the Union do not enjoy the same job conditions, pay, status and career perspectives as men. In spite of EU equality legislation, numerous legislative barriers endure and create obstacles for women in achieving management positions in various European countries (Linehan, 2000, p. 31).

2.2.4. Women in Management

In the following, gender specific dissimilarities are portrayed as observable in the structure of employment.

In 2000, the proportion of women with university education almost equals - respectively even exceeds - that of men in some age groups: Between the age of 25 and 29, 6.4% of women and 7.2% of men dispose of a university degree. Within the age group of 30 to 39, there are more women (9.3%) with university education than men (8.6%). Thus, the highest proportion of academic people according to age groups is observable for women between 30 and 39, whereas for men, this lies between 50 and 54 (8%) (Statistik Austria, 2002, p. 157).

A fundamental dilemma in the research of accurate figures of women in management is the obvious incomparability of data. Two sources are examined to develop a critical understanding of the considerably differing numbers of women in management:

The following figures base on the Austrian census from 2000: Of 1,432,900 employed women, 55,400 fill leading positions, which correspond to 3.4%; 204,300 have highly qualified positions, which equal 12.5%. 1,853,400 men were employed in 2000, 175,300 in leading occupations (8.1%) and 233,100 (10.9%) in highly qualified posts. Hence, the proportion of men in positions of power accounts for more than twofold the number of women in that area (8.1% : 3.4%) (Statistik Austria, 2002, p. 44, p. 160).

A recent study of IMD International Search and Consulting also addressed the issue of women in leading positions: The proportion of women amounts to 13% in top management, 21% in middle management, and 25% in the third level. These figures account for an average of 19.6% of women in Austrian management positions. Interestingly, the role model of 13 examined European countries in this area is Hungary, with 25% of females in senior, and 32% in junior managerial positions. In Germany, the poorest performer in the IMD study, however, solely 5% hold top executive positions, and 14% women fill middle management posts (Power4women, 2003, p. 1). Since the Austrian census (ÖSTAT, 1995, p. 130) reports 19.5% of female managers in 1991, the IMD study will – on the grounds of its conformity with these figures as well as its topicality – be further explored.

The movement of women into managerial jobs is by no means even across different fields: The majority of women in senior management positions work in the areas accounting, finance and controlling (17%), and in general management (16%). These fields are followed by personnel management (12%) and PR (9%). Almost pure male domains are, on the contrary, materials management and logistics, which are constituted by solely 1% of female top managers, as well as production / manufacturing, research and development, and legal departments with 2% of female top executives each. With reference to the new generation of female managers who are to be found in junior positions, again finance dominates, none the less, distribution and personnel management equally rank second, succeeded by marketing (Power4women, 2003, p. 1).

As more and more women have entered the workforce, their unequal share of highest management positions has triggered research and debate: Vinnicombe and Colwill (1995, cited in Linehan, 2000, p. 12) made the point that women occupy only 10% of managerial positions across Europe and still remain concentrated in junior and middle management positions. Therewith, they confirmed previous studies that had established that, throughout Europe, women’s advance into senior management has been rather laggard.

Wirth (2001, p. 239) summarizes that women’s share of management rarely exceeds 20% in most countries – yet they represent more than 40% of the world’s labor force. In Austria, 75% of the employed women occupy at maximum “middle” posts (BMF, 1995, p. 237 ff.). Undoubtedly, the higher the position, the more glaring the gender gap.

Even if “traditional” grounds for deterring women from career paths have dwindled away as (i) more and more women participate in the labor force, (ii) the skills and management style typically attributed to women is predicted to gain in importance and appreciation, (iii) career orientations of men and women have approximated, and (iv) women have started to equal or even outbalance their male counterparts with reference to education and qualification, vertical and horizontal segregation within organizations endure (Fischlmayr & Hofbauer, 2002, p. 3 f.).

Female career paths are idiosyncratically “steady-state”, lacking great promotions or declines. This applies to almost four of ten women in Austria. Male careers, by contrast, are characterized by career advancement and rising status (Statistik

Austria, 2002, p. 55). Linehan (2000, p. 144) remarks that career theories have largely been built on male models of management, success and work. As Fischlmayr (1999, p. 122) critically reveals:

A man does not have to show that he has managerial competence until the contrary is proven, but a woman must still prove in advance that she is the right person for a higher position.

2.2.5. Gender Specific Pay Gaps

As the empirical study (chapter 4) will prove, women generally have difficulty in negotiating wages even if they have proven that they are capable of their position. In the following, gender specific pay gaps in the EU and particularly in Austria will be examined to complete the picture of the female employment status quo.

The legislative framework for equal pay across the EU has been in existence for decades: Article 119 of the Treaty of Rome, the 1975 Directive on Equal Pay and Article 141 of the Amsterdam Treaty which amends and replaces Article 119 (European Commission, 2001b, p. 3). In Austria, equal pay was legally constituted by the 1979 law on equal treatment in employment (Antal & Izraeli, 1993, p. 74).

The European Commission’s 1997 analysis of statistics on the structure of earnings between the fifteen EU states revealed a continuing difference in earnings between women and men (cited in Linehan, 2000, p. 29). Lisa Pavan-Woolfe, the European Commission Director in charge of Gender Equality (European Commission, 2001b, p. 3) highlights:

There are still important gender differences in pay despite the existence of long-standing national and Community legislation and case law. … at the end of the day, a woman takes home 15% less than a man in a similar position.

According to a 2001 Eurostat survey, European women employed full-time in industry and services earn an average 75% of men’s wages. In only four EU member states – Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, and Sweden – was this gap less than 15%. By contrast, women’s wages reached only 70% of men’s in Greece and the Netherlands and solely 67% in Portugal (European Commission, 2001b, p. 11).

These figures confirm a European Community Household Panel 1997 analysis, which additionally observes a difference in wage gaps between the private and public sector: The situation is worse in the private sector with wage gaps of 19 percentage points compared to 10 percentage points in the public area. Gender pay gaps declined or remained at their level in almost all EU member states; however, slight increases were notable in Spain and Austria (European Commission, 2001b, p. 11).

The Austrian auditing authority portrayed the pay gaps in 2001 as follows: The net annual income of employed men amounted to 17,860 €, that of women solely to 11,660 €. Employed women net an average third less than their male counterparts. There is an even more explicit wage gap as regards self-employed persons: Men earned 12,370 €, women 6,770 € (-45%). The slightest difference is notable in the public area, where male public servants received a net salary of 24,070 € and the female net income amounted to 22,689 €. Based on this report, gender pay gaps

also result from variations in labor hours: Men do more overtime work and have a higher rate of full-time employment (as indicated above) (“Frauen verdienen nach wie vor deutlich weniger”, 2003, p. 2).

Hearn & Parkin (1986, p. 34) conclude that “Abundant evidence is … available … that women tend to occupy less-powerful, lower-paid, and lower-status organizational positions than men”. Linehan (2000, p. 159) critically comments on the current situation of women in the EU: “… despite European Union legislation on sex discrimination and equal opportunities, in recent years, there is little evidence that much has improved”.

2.2.6. Summary and Outlook

The “glass-ceiling” is obviously not at all a theoretical construct – the female labor reality in Austria and across the EU member states proves the contrary. Domsch & Lieberum (1997, p. 18) confirm that on the national level, the proportion of women in leading positions is still humble, even if the qualifications of men and women have aligned. In a 2002 IMD study (Power4women, 2003, p. 1) 68% of Austrian company representatives justified the lack of women in (senior) management positions with the absence of women in the “pipeline” of job applicants in their branches – one reason for this might be the choice of studies (as indicated in chapter 2.2.3). 38% viewed the corporate culture, that has exerted favorable influence on men in leading posts (which will be examined in chapter 2.3), and 17% alleged missing career motivation on the part of women. 30% of Austrian executives do not deem specific promotional measures for women as necessary. None the less, 47% plead for increasing integration of women in networks and the creation of supportive environments for women, such as childcare facilities (Power4women, 2003, p. 1). Figure 9 portrays the results of a 2002 survey about contributors towards a better reconcilableness of work and family respectively children.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 9: Factors that would contribute to the reconcilableness of work and family/children (Wirtschaftskammern Österreichs, 2002c, p. 1)

In this survey, 83% of the Austrian population state that childcare institutions close to the company, or even as a part of it, would contribute to reconciling job and family and to alleviate the burdens of women in their working and family environments. Flexible work schedules, the splitting of housework between the partners, and the financial support of company nursery schools are also stated as necessary elements (Wirtschaftskammern Österreichs, 2002c, p. 1). However, perceived necessity does not automatically lead to improvement.



ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Paperback)
723 KB
Institution / Hochschule
Johannes Kepler Universität Linz – Wirtschaftswissenschaften, Unternehmensführung
2003 (September)
auslandsentsandte frauen managerinnen international personalmanagemen



Titel: Examining Expatriation