Critical Analysis of Travel-Sabbaticals for International Employers. Chances and Risks

Bachelor Thesis, 2017

77 Pages, Grade: 1,7


Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations

List of Figures

List of Tables

1 Introduction
1.1 Problem Statement
1.2 Theoretical Objective and Structure of the Thesis
1.3 Demarcations and Scope

2 Challenges of International Companies in View of Multiculturalism
2.1 Cultural Diversity Determines Daily Business
2.2 International Human Resource Management Takes Up a Central Position
2.3 Megatrends Require New Motivation and Commitment Incentives

3 Sabbaticals Can Be Seen as One Solution
3.1 History and Definition of Sabbatical
3.2 Models and Characteristics of Sabbaticals Orientate on Employee Needs
3.3 Current State and Relevance Shows Sabbaticals Are in Great Demand
3.4 Practice Insights of Sabbaticals in International Companies

4 Travel-Sabbaticals Can Offer A Plus for International Companies
4.1 Humans Have Been Travelling Since Their Existence
4.2 Travelling is Well Known to Broadens the Mind and this is Desired
4.3 Definition and Meaning of Travel-Sabbatical
4.4 Preconditions and Attractive Offer Impulses for Travel-Sabbaticals

5 Chances and Economic Advantages for International Employers
5.1 Development of Intercultural Competences
5.2 Increase of Employees Motivation
5.3 Realization of Potentials of Megatrends for Higher Commitment
5.4 Encouragement of Soft Skills, Different Thinking and Innovation

6 Risks and Costs for International Employers
6.1 Entrepreneurial Risks in Advance to Travel-Sabbatical Realizations
6.2 Complications due to the Absence of the Sabbatical Beneficiary
6.3 Business Reintegration Risks
6.4 High Costs Related to Travel-Sabbaticals and Can Exceed Benefits

7 Conclusion
7.1 Achievement of Objective
7.2 Perspectives

List of References

Literature Sources

Internet Sources

List of Abbreviations

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

List of Figures

Figure 1: Structure of the thesis

Figure 2: Model of the IHRM

Figure 3: Figures regarding the demand of sabbaticals

Figure 4: Overview of the instrument Travel-Sabbatical in an overall context

Figure 5: Development phases of intercultural competences

Figure 6: Hierarchy of needs

Figure 7: Risks and costs of Travel-Sabbaticals for employers

List of Tables

Table 1: Precondition and attractive offer impulses for Travel-Sabbaticals

Table 2: Simplified cost-benefit analysis for the instrument Travel-Sabbatical

1 Introduction

1.1 Problem Statement

The modern business world is characterized by significant changes due to megatrends like Globalization, Individualization, Health, Skill Society and New Work. These trends are occupying individuals as well as large parts of society around the world and span several decades. In the world of working, international companies are strongly affected by these changes as their businesses in different countries experience characteristics in varying intensities. The abilities of international companies to be attractive to the available resources sustainably and efficiently are paramount to compete in this everchanging world.1 The companies’ labour resources, its employees, are the most important success capital. This is outlined by the subsequent words of Werner Niefer, a former chief executive officer of Mercedes Benz: “Meine wichtigste Erfahrung als Manager ist die Erkenntnis, dass die Mitarbeiter das wertvollste Gut eines Unternehmens sind und damit auch das wichtigste Erfolgskapital. Es sind nie Computer, Roboter, technische Einrichtungen, die zu einem Ziel führen, sondern immer Menschen, die Konzepte zustande bringen.”2

Megatrends let the world grow even closer together, thereby giving intercultural competencies an even stronger meaning and changing needs and values of the employees. Consequently, new incentive systems for motivation and commitment become necessary. It is important for companies to invest in the changing needs of their most valuable resource.3 However, it is also the most complex thing for a company due to the challenge of finding out how exactly to invest in the employees in order to strengthen their position with respect to its rivals and to sharpen their competitive advantage. This task is mainly assigned to the international human resource managements (IHRM).4

Existing motivation and commitment incentives of monetary nature e.g. remuneration increases, higher bonuses or special performance-related payments as well as incentives of a more prestigious nature e.g. company cars, personal offices and job titles are reaching its limits and are no longer enough. The current megatrends call for new incentives. To satisfy the changing needs of employees with regard to the business world, new working models and ways of incentivizing, such as work life balance instruments, home office agreements or sabbaticals are already making their way.5 Especially sabbaticals are strongly in demand however, only a fraction of the employees realize a professional time out. By when sabbaticals are realized, it can be observed that they frequently are used for satisfying the increasing desire of travelling for example in form of work and travel programs, round-the-world trips, volunteering or educational courses abroad.6 Building on the already spreading instrument sabbatical and combining this with the employees’ high demands for travelling, an extended approach building on sabbaticals can be identified.

This approach takes into account the multicultural character of international companies with the developing possibilities by travelling in foreign cultures and combines the need for travelling with increasing motivation and commitment of the employees. The remarkable potential of this approach for both employers and employees might be concluded by connecting it with a famous quote from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, a well-known German poet: “Die beste Bildung findet ein gescheiter Mensch auf Reisen.”7 It is worthwhile relating this quotation to the labor market, where the words ‘travel’ and ‘sabbatical’ play an important role when it comes to its realization. Travel, here referred to widening one’s professional and personal horizons as well as one’s skillset, and the word Sabbatical referred to having the time for travelling without restrictions of daily businesses.8 This potential contemporary approach in the following is therefore described as ‘Travel-Sabbatical’.

Following this logic, it could be a motive for international employers to consider Travel- Sabbaticals in their companies as a new instrument of the IHRM for increasing motivation and engagement of its most important resource with the positive effect of professional development in various ways.

1.2 Theoretical Objective and Structure of the Thesis

In order to be able to assess both the extent to which this approach provides benefits for international companies as well as the risks associated with them, a closer look and a critical analysis of this approach seems to make sense. By now, there are scientific insights about sabbaticals in general, among other things focusing on working time models, work life balance or burn-out prevention.9 Explicit scientific investigations of travelling during sabbaticals in order to increase motivation and commitment as well as personal development are not present. However, by reflecting and transfer of findings to sabbaticals, it is possible to gain insights on Travel-Sabbaticals and to make assumptions to the topic, even so as there are no specific studies on Travel-Sabbaticals.

The objective of this thesis is to shed more light on the subject of travelling during sabbaticals as a personnel policy instrument for IHRM to set new motivation, commitment incentives with various development perspectives for their employees in this challenging environment by a critical analysis of its potential chances and risks. For this purpose, the present thesis is subdivided into seven chapters.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Source: Self-illustration.

Figure 1: Structure of the thesis

While in the chapter 1, the problem statement has already been demonstrated and the limitations on the elaboration with the goal of a straight-line work and a clear scope will follow, the real scientific work starts in chapter 2.

This chapter gives an understanding of the challenges and characteristics of internationally operating companies. It serves to create a fundamental understanding of how Travel-Sabbaticals can play a role for these companies. In order to make the necessities and challenges of the international employers, clearer, selected contents on cultural diversity and the importance of intercultural competences, the complexity of the IHRM and the new requirements due to global trends are covered.

In chapter 3, general theoretical foundations of the basis construct sabbatical are presented. The theory is supplemented by insights into international companies handling of sabbaticals and already achieved experiences with this instrument.

Based on the previous, chapter 4 deals with the new approach Travel-Sabbatical, which can be seen as a specific upgrade of sabbaticals. Hereto the history and meaning of travelling is focused on and a closer look will be taken on the previously cited quotation from Goethe. This is followed by the definition of and further information on Travel- Sabbaticals to build the base for a profound understanding of what is needed in the next chapters. Chapters 1 to 4 reveal already first chances and risks of Travel-Sabbaticals.

Chapter 5 is then explicitly dedicated to chances and economic advantages for international employers. It investigates the positive effects on the employees due to travelling during the professional time out.

Chapter 6 is focused on the risks and costs that may arise with the personnel policy instrument Travel-Sabbatical. It completes the critical analysis of chances and risks with a simplified cost-benefit analysis.

Finally, the most important results will be summed up und supplemented by recommendations for action in chapter 7 and the perspectives of employees, the most important success capital for companies, will be in the limelight of Travel-Sabbaticals.

1.3 Demarcations and Scope

In a first step to serve the defined objective, content-related demarcations are defined in order to clearly focus. The topic of this thesis already reveals first delimitations. The use of Travel-Sabbaticals is examined from the perspective of international employers. Further, the investigations refer to international employers with multicultural workforce and preferably with many branches and subsidiaries in different countries, whereby their business activities in Germany are focused on. Therefore, legal foundations and further framework conditions are examined under German law and perspectives. On this basis, the employees of these companies will be considered. Only the employees themselves are taken into account. Not the needs of their partners, families or other people who probably will travel with the employees. This would lead too far, as in the end their enrichment and other positive effects as a result of travelling are not directly usable for the companies because of the lack of labor relations. In terms of the target group employees, no deeper limitations with regard to suitability’s for Travel-Sabbaticals were considered, as no general statement e.g. on marital status, age, life phase and occupational position can be made and the situation, motivation and characteristics of each individual are different. For example, there are couples in their mid-50s or mothers with children who go on journeys to discover the world over a longer period.

Furthermore, occupational sabbaticals are in focus and religious sabbaticals e.g. pilgrimage for reasons of religious faiths or to travel in religious ways are excluded, as they would impose certain restrictions. These sabbaticals serve as a voluntary occupational time out for employees to travel. There are no general restrictions considered with regard to the length and the period of travelling, the number of countries visited, the distances to the home country or intermediate stops at home.

When referring to Travel-Sabbaticals, it is also assumed that the employees will return to the respective company after their professional leave. Differing from some publications with regard to sabbaticals, Travel-Sabbaticals in this context are not seen as an action between changing an employer.

The results in the investigation scope: critical analysis of professional time outs by employees with the purpose of travelling and the potential contribution for the respective internationally operating employers.

As the companies’ motive is to setting new motivation and commitment impulses for its workforce to compete successful with regard to the changing business world and to profit from the employees’ enrichment, the following chapters start with an overview of challenges of companies in an international field of action due to peculiarities of multiculturalism.

2 Challenges of International Companies in View of Multiculturalism

2.1 Cultural Diversity Determines Daily Business

The cultural diversity of a company is growing by the extent of its international businesses and the composition of its workforce regarding their nationalities and cultures. Accordingly, it is particularly high in internationally operating companies. And the ongoing trend of globalization leads to an additionally rise in cultural diversity.10 In a world that is linked together even closer due to the progress in communication, transportation and technology, cultural differences can be found everywhere.11 Business related, it affects all employees who are members of multicultural units, areas of responsibilities and business relations.

The culture of a person does not begin at its birth, culture is learned in the course of life by the orientation towards other people and by interacting with them which results in a diversity of cultures.12 Cultural diversity can be defined as “the wide range of distinct cultures.”13 Whereby the term culture refers to “the set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features of society or a social group, and that it encompasses, in addition to art and literature, lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems, traditions and beliefs.”14 In the words of Gerard Hendrik Hofstede also known as Geert Hofstede, an expert of cultural sciences, culture “is the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another.”15 Consequently, culture influences how individuals deal with each other and how they get along with an array of different cultures.

Cultural rules and the sensitivities of all parties involved in the company’s businesses and in the operating markets need to be respected differentiated in order to be successful. These is particularly evident with the medium of communication in this age of globalization, namely the World Wide Web. Originally it was created as a platform with same content for everyone and in English as universal language to communicate at anytime, anywhere and with anyone. Over time and with the rise of multicultural users, the international content has adapted increasingly to national conditions such as national languages or national content restrictions. Transferred to the business world, the winners are those companies that offer international products and services with national-cultural differences in their respective markets. McDonald's, for example, sells its core program worldwide, but the menu varies according to the countries and the belonging customer habits.16

Therefore, intercultural competencies are needed in order to make the existing and increasing diversity a positive factor for companies operating internationally.17 These competences are therefore highly regarded in multicultural companies and contribute to their success as this competency empower employees to deal in an multicultural environment.18 Because nowadays, a friendly and tolerant attitude for business connection is hardly sufficient and is rather served as a good basis which can lead to success on both sides due to intercultural competencies.19 Therefore, all international acting employees should benefit from this competence, albeit in different degrees of intensity, whereby a basic understanding should exist across all levels.

For this special ability, various terminologies are used in parallel such as intercultural decision-making, intercultural awareness, intercultural management and intercultural communication skills.20 The term intercultural competence is obvious prevail in Germany and is also used in official announcements by German ministries.21 Moreover, there is no common understanding of a general definition, only overlaps of characteristics obtain. Jürgen Straub stated that the “span of relevant definitions ... [is] impressive.”22 However, a certain basic consensus is seen in the distinction between three levels, which requires intercultural competence as the ability, the cognitive, affective and behavioural level. The cognitive level encompasses the knowledge and understanding of one's own and of foreign cultures. The second, affective level is devoted to personal attitudes and characteristics. The third, behavioural level builds on the previous two, and incorporates the cognitive and affective aspects in behaviour.23 This becomes clear in the definition of Klaus Götz that intercultural competence is the ability “to combine affective, cognitive and behavioural aspects with one another and to integrate them into a context of action.”24 Alexander Thomas also refers to these levels in his understanding of intercultural competence and focused more the context of action by saying:

“Die interkulturelle Kompetenz zeigt sich in der Fähigkeit, kulturelle Bedingungen und Einflussfaktoren im Wahrnehmen, Urteilen, Empfinden und Handeln bei sich selbst und bei anderen Personen zu erfassen, zu respektieren, zu würdigen und produktiv zu nutzen im Sinne einer wechselseitigen Anpassung, von Toleranz gegenüber Inkompatibilitäten und einer Entwicklung hin zu synergieträchtigen Formen der Zusammenarbeit des Zusammenlebens und handlungswirksamer Orientierungsmuster im Bezug auf Weltinterpretation und Weltgestaltung.”25

By using intercultural competences, relationships of intercultural contact within the company and with foreign parties can be shaped reliably, successfully and permanently. This ability makes sure each person feels accepted and taken seriously as an equal person considering their own cultural characteristics and prevent stereotypical thinking. On this base, reliable and trusting business relationships can be created. In a result, it leads to more productivity, innovation and efficiency for all parties.26 These cultural competences also generate long-lasting advantages because these competences are hard to comprehend and consequently difficult to imitate for competitors.27 It is the cornerstone for international contacts, its expansion and care, and is rewarded by satisfied and committed business partners with ‘goodwill’ and a certain preference advantage, which is hard for competitors to overcome.28

This competency is not self-evident and is formed by the development of humans. A natural ethnocentrism emerges unconsciously, which is to be reconciled by a stronger awareness of intercultural competence.29 The willingness to deal with different cultures and the appreciation of them is the key success factor to achieving this competence.30

There are different approaches to learn this competence such as by Milten J. Bennett and by Alexander Thomas. Both approaches are based on learning processes. Bennett's development model illustrates a process with six process phases, each reflecting the learner's attitude towards cultural differences. It is a six phases process of learning without the integration of the experience component and deals with the denial, defense, minimization, acceptance, adaptation and the integration of cultural differences.31 Thomas’ model requires four development phases and includes a learning-by-doing character. Based on the personal and environmental factors the phases intercultural confrontations, intercultural experiences, intercultural learning and intercultural understanding leads to intercultural competences.32 Due to the learning by doing character, Thomas’ approach is especially suitable for Travel-Sabbatical and therefore, at the center of attention in chapter 5.2 as a further chance for the IHRM through the new instrument. Then, the personnel development of the workforce and the handling of complex situations resulting from different nationalities working together belong among other tasks to the responsible area of the IHRM.33

2.2 International Human Resource Management Takes Up a Central Position

The human resource management (HRM) and so the IHRM can be seen as “the sum of personnel design measures to achieve company goals.”34 These managements are responsible for the most valuable and important capital of a company.35 Due to the company's activities in many different countries and an employee composition from various nations, IHRM is far more complex than the national one. This complexity of the IHRM can be illustrated in a three-dimensional model according to P. V. Morgan.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Source: Self-illustration after Morgan, P. V. (1986), p. 44.

Figure 2: Model of the IHRM

The dimension ‘Human resource activities’ shows the broad activities of procurement, allocation and utilization of the domestic HRM as a part of the complexity of the IHRM. This three activity fields include the six HRM activities.36 These are recruitment of suitable employees, manpower planning, education and training of the workforce and their competences as well as remuneration and performance management and setting staff incentives and motivation impulses in order to meet business objectives.37

The next dimension covers the three categories of countries which are involved in activities of IHRM. The host countries stand for countries where business activities are located but not the headquarters of the companies whereas the home country is where its headquarters are based. Other countries are labelled as countries where neither the headquarters are based nor other business activities takes place.38

The last dimension ‘Type of employees’ represents the groups of acting employees, in place of international business, categorized by their nationalities. The nationality of host-country employees is congruent with the nationality of the host country in which the employees are working for the company. Whereby, the nationality of parent-country employees is the same as the nationality in the home-country of the company but not the same of the country where they are working in. Third-country nationals label employees whose nationality does not correspond to either the nationality of the home or the host country of the company.39

The resulting challenge described André Laurent in the 1980’s as follows: “The challenge faced by the infant field of IHRM is to solve a multidimensional puzzle located at the crossroad of national and organizational cultures.”40 It emphasize the importance of intercultural competences and the need to learn and expand them which can be promoted by travelling. His statement applies to both then and also to now because the fundamental parameters for the IHRM continue to exist and are still valid to handle the cultural challenges in internationally operating companies. Rather, Laurent's statement can be extended by an additional complex component, namely, the megatrends of the 21st century, which are changing the working world on all levels and in a sustainable way.41

2.3 Me gatrends Require New Motivation and Commitment Incentives

The megatrends change social framework, markets and needs of all party concerned and natural factors therefore, the conditions of competition. A high degree of adaptability and flexibility from companies is requested. Only those who meet the trends are able to compete, to grow and to be successful.42

The institution Zukunftsinstitut, which today is one of the most influential think tanks of European trends and future research identified twelve megatrends in the 21st century. Silver Society, Safety, Mobility, Gender Shift, Renewed Environmentalism, Urbanization and Connectivity and the trends focused in this thesis, Globalization, Individualization, Health, Skill Society and New Work. The last five trends have significant impacts on employee motivation and commitment with respect to this thesis and require a rethink of the IHRM about engagement, enabling and earning the employees’ loyalty to succeed.

Megatrends are fundamental changes that span several decades and work in every individual as well as in all areas of society.43 It is therefore important to analyse these megatrends and their implications for the company in order to realize the associated business opportunities and not to fatally address these trends as annoying risks.44 The trends described below provide an anchor point for the potential of Travel-Sabbaticals, which are discussed in detail in chapter 5. At this point, the first step is to explain these trends and its additional complexity for the IHRM.

The trend Globalization expands the talent markets to a global one and leads to an intensified competition for valuable skills and new markets. Due to the fact that internationalization enables also emerging economies to participate in world trade and benefit from property and economic growth, the freedom of employees to choose their employers and jobs arises and transforms their priorities. Self-development, work life balance, personal and career fulfilment which in turn carries more weight next to money. Consequently, the IHRM needs to take a new orientation to recruit and bind talents worldwide as well as to new and more flexible motivation and engagement strategies with respect to local cultures and talent markets.45 “Engage globally and empower locally so organizational units can react in the most effective way based on their unique challenges and opportunities.”46 This message from Gary Short, a talent manager and senior consultant of Kimberly-Clark, expresses the consequence. Globalization also requires stronger international cooperation with strategically advantageous companies for a better competitive position on labour and new business markets. For this purpose, meaningful and respectful collaborations are essential to succeed in cross-company’s projects or objectives. This is where the intercultural competencies become important again and enable gainful cooperation’s and prevent employees’ frustration by working together with other nationals.47

The next trend Individualism, forces companies to change in their relationships with its workforce. Individually focus of each employee is necessary to promote talents and to build up and foster long lasting relationships with them. This means companies have to develop from ‘standard employer’ to ‘caring employer’ by offering their employees nearly seamless support, ranging from housing to leisure to sport offers up to health care, time outs and personality development.48 The ever-increasing demand of the employees to be appreciated as individuals, leads to do-it-yourself cultures. This calls for encouraging the employees to actively shape their own development and promotion. Training and development plans as well as career paths and reward systems have to be increasingly tailor-made. Straight-lined biographies become patchwork biographies. The position of the manager should therefore develop towards the role of a coach and mentor to actively support the do-it-yourself culture in order to use the resulting opportunities for new motivation and commitment impulses.49

The megatrend Health draws its energy from the constant accessibility, the permanent load and stress, which increasingly shape a working day.50 Special attention should be paid to this trend as it is important for the sustainable preservation of the most important resource, the employees. Only healthy, satisfied and balanced employees can be productive and fruitful for a company.51 The boundaries between professional and private life are merging more and more in a networked economy and require active time outs and non-working phases.52 Individual desires for rest and descent are growing.53 Health is being considered too far more than the prospect of getting ill or contracting a disease or trying to stay healthy. It refers to a balance between work and life and the individuals’ life energy.54 Through the blurring of these boundaries, the individuals’ desire for rest and recreation is growing.55 The working world is changing from an industrial culture to a knowledge and skill-based culture, which can hardly be realized when constrained by fixed times like assembly line work.56 Brainstorming and ideas arise locally and spontaneously and independent of time and place, so that the classic nine-to-five model is disappearing and new flexible working time solutions especially free availability of time are needed. Part-time and job sharing, are just the pioneering models for the new generation of work.57 Establishing new models for these requirements protect employees against health problems ensure a long-term sustainable workforce.58

Skill Society is a megatrend driven by digital media. In this skill based culture brainstorming and ideas arise independently of time and place.59 The spread and use of digital media is steadily increasing and enables to retrieve and use basic and expert knowledge fast, at any time, everywhere.60 The importance of knowledge has become a boost and has raised the state of the traditional production factors work, land and capital. In the post-industrial age, knowledge and information increasingly replaced work and capital resources as main sources for the added value by companies.61 Knowledge and education have thus become the key to a promising future and demand for individual development and passionate curiosity.62 The static characteristic of knowledge is changing into a dynamic one and is powered by the fact that the world is growing even closer together, obstacles for worldwide communication are shrinking, information is available everywhere and scientific progress can be shared in no time.63 This dynamic evolution is shortening the durability of knowledge. New methods enable knowledge to be developed and shared on the basis by exchange of experience, whereby the exchange takes place due to practical application and collaborative work throughout the entire company as well as transnationally. Expanding knowledge will be increasingly relevant in the future and imposes high requirements to the working population by requesting a high degree of flexibility, adaptability and a constant up-to-date mode.64

The megatrend New Work includes all the working world affected characteristics of the previously described and of the other megatrends. All named changes determine new motivation and commitment incentives for employees. The statement of Keith Astill, former Divisional Director for Corporate HR of Nationwide Building Society, said “as the world goes through change, we need to get closer to our people than ever before.”65 The study ‘The new rules of employee engagement’ by Korn Ferry, Hay Group in 2014 outlined the importance of Astill’s statement with the findings, that in a short period of four years up to 2018, nearly a quarter of all employed persons worldwide will change their jobs.66 This objective, to get closer to the workforce and to bind employees, is already leading companies to take measures in order to react to the changing world of work. Inter alia company-owned sport centers and kindergarten, training sessions for burnout prevention and stress management as well as the implementation of sabbaticals can be associated.67 Especially sabbaticals as a flexible working time construct affect numerous characteristics of the described megatrends.

3 Sabbaticals Can Be Seen as One Solution

3.1 History and Definition of Sabbatical

The name of the personal political instrument of the modern ’sabbatical’ is composed from word elements of ‘sabbaticus’ from Latin, ‘sabbatikós’ from Greek and ‘šabat’ from Hebrew.68 Sabbatical is to be translated as ‘to take a break’. The origins lie in the Jewish religion. The Hebrew word ‘šabat’ is a synonym for ‘to rest’ and describes the Jewish day of rest. This word does not only refer to the needs for regeneration within a weekly working rhythm but is also understood as a regularly recurring resting phase dedicated to recreation.69 The idea is anchored in the Bible: “Sechs Jahre sollst du dein Land besäen und seine Früchte einsammeln. Aber im siebten Jahr sollst du es ruhen lassen.”70 This resting period should give the land time to regain new nutrients and to recover. In addition, it was intended to prevent the non-productivity of the soil at an early stage and to avoid a slow sustainable decline of harvest yields.71

This kind of a free phase in the production and work process was taken up again by Israeli and American professors in the 1960s as a ‘creative break’. Sabbaticals were later also practiced at European universities under the name ‘Research Sabbatical’. Nowadays, sabbaticals are practical for all kind of professionals.72 However, there is no legally valid or enforceable entitlement for a longer time out.73 Therefore, it is mainly up to the companies whether they offer sabbaticals to their employees or not.74 The German law ‘Gesetz zur sozialrechtlichen Absicherung flexibler Arbeitszeitregelungen’ adopted in 1998 and expanded in 2008 with the law ‘Gesetz zur Verbesserung der Rahmenbedingungen für die Absicherung flexibler Arbeitszeitregelungen und zur Änderung anderer Gesetze’ as well as the law ‘Gesetz über Teilzeitarbeit und befristete Arbeitsverträge’, which became effective in 2001 and form the basis for longer professional time outs of employees under specific conditions.75 Through this laws employees are able to take part on flexible working time arrangements and part-time models, without naming obligations as justification.76

The term ‘sabbatical’ as a model of time out is used differently but with transferable meanings. Depending on the priorities of individual publications the word is defined diversely in relation to its characteristics like duration, financing or purpose.77 Thus, when ‘sabbatical’ is mentioned in this thesis, it is understood as a working time model that gives employees the voluntary possibility of a professional time out for an extended period of time. The time horizon takes usually 3 - 12 months or even more, which goes beyond the normal holiday entitlement. The employees remain a member of the company during the time out and return to their workplace or to an equivalent one within the company.

Sabbaticals usually designed as unpaid exemptions and are not financially supported by the employer in the sense of a regular monthly remuneration but are supported indirectly by different working time models with the possibilities to save money and time components. In individual cases, employees can receive a partial monthly compensation.78 The design possibilities get its attention in the next chapter to complete the basic understanding of sabbaticals.

3.2 Models and Characteristics of Sabbaticals Orientate on Employee Needs

Various models exist for taking sabbaticals that can be considered are as diverse as the reasons and the personal concerns for it. The different models can be combined and adapted.79 According to Barbara Hess and Barbara Siemers, two renowned researchers in this field, there are three possible basic models for sabbaticals with regard to the financial design: working time account, temporary part-time work and unpaid leave.80 Whereby it should make clear that each sabbatical is effectively a private time out without a salary entitlement. This leads to the result of Germany’s biggest sabbatical study from 2016, that 72% rely partially or even entirely on savings to fund the sabbatical and almost 20% calculate with financial support from family or partner.81 The financing models refers to possibilities to save time and money by flexible working time arrangements for funding the time out partially or even completely. In some cases, subsidies by the employers can also be used for financing these periods.82 With these models also come differences in the coverage of the employee’s health insurances.

For the sake of greater clarity and readability the masculine form is used this elaboration. The use of the masculine form refers to both the masculine and feminine gender at all times.


1 Cf. Zukunftsinstitut (2016).

2 Niefer, W. cited by Von Fournier, C. on (2009).

3 Cf. Hahn, G. on (2010); Zukunftsinstitut (2016).

4 Cf. Henninger, C. cited by (2017); Zukunftsinstitut (2016).

The words commitment and engagement are used as synonyms in this thesis and express the willingness of personal involvement by giving time and energy.

5 Cf. Korn Ferry, Hay Group (2014b), p. 5 ff.; Zukunftsinstitut (2016).

6 Cf. Wimdu (2016).

7 Von Goethe, J. W. (1982), p. 299.

8 Cf. (2016); Von Goethe, J. W. (1990), p. 299.

9 Cf. Hess, B. (2009), p. 26 ff.; Siemers, B. (2005), pp. 55-61, 283 f.

10 Cf. Nefzger, S. (2000), p. 14.

11 Cf. Geistmann, C. (2003), p. 13; One America (2016).

12 Cf. Lustig, M. W., Koester, J. (1993), p. 41.

13 UNESCO (2009), p. 4.

14 UNESCO (2002), p. 68.

15 Hofstede, G. (1994), p. 5.

16 Cf. Lotter, W., Sommer, C. (2001), p. 78 f.

17 Cf. Geistmann, C. (2003), p. 13.

18 Cf. Dülfer, E. (2001), p. 537 ff.

19 Cf. Thomas, A. (2006), p. 115.

20 Cf. Jung, R. H. et al. (1994), p. 15 ff.

21 Cf. Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales (2016).

22 Straub, J. (2007), p. 40.

23 Cf. Götz, K. (2001), p. 68 ff.

24 Götz, K. (2001), p. 71.

25 Thomas, A. (2003), p. 143.

26 Cf. Thomas, A. (2006), p. 115 f.

27 Cf. Probst, G., Raub, S. (1998), p. 134.

28 Cf. Stich, M. (2003), p. 25 f.

29 Cf. Rothlauf, J. (1999), p. 41.

30 Cf. Thomas, A. (2006), p. 118.

31 Cf. Bennett, M. J. (2003), p. 36.

32 Cf. Thomas, A. (2006), p. 118f.

33 Cf. Dowling, P. J. (1999), p. 31.

34 Gabler Wirtchaftslexikon (2017).

35 Cf. Hahn, G. on (2010).

36 Cf. Morgan, P. V. (1986), p. 44.

37 Cf. Kutschker, M. (1999), p. 180.

38 Cf. Morgan, P. V. (1986), p. 44.

39 Cf. Morgan, P. V. (1986), p. 44.

40 Laurent, A. (1986), p. 101.

41 Cf. Zukunftsinstitut (2016).

42 Cf. Korn Ferry, Hay Group (2014a).

43 Cf. Zukunftsinstitut (2016).

44 Cf. Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz und Reaktorsicherheit (2008), p. 5.

45 Cf. Korn Ferry, Hay Group (2014b), p. 5 ff.; Zukunftsinstitut (2016).

46 Short, G. cited by Korn Ferry, Hay Group (2014b), p. 6.

47 Cf. Korn Ferry, Hay Group (2014b), p. 5.

48 Cf. TRENDONE (2017a).

49 Cf. Korn Ferry, Hay Group (2014b), p. 13 ff.; Zukunftsinstitut (2016).

50 Cf. Henkel, S. on Zukunftsinstitut (2015).

51 Cf. Bergo, C. et al. on PRO-SKILLS (2006), p. 10.

52 Cf. Henkel, S., Papasabbas, L. on Zukunftsinstitut (2015).

53 Cf. Henkel, S. on Zukunftsinstitut (2015).

54 Cf. Zukunftsinstitut (2016).

55 Cf. Henkel, S. on Zukunftsinstitut (2015).

56 Cf. Zukunftsinstitut (2016).

57 Cf. TRENDONE (2017a).

58 Cf. Henkel, S., Papasabbas, L. on Zukunftsinstitut (2015).

59 Cf. ibidem.

60 Cf. TRENDONE (2017b). Zukunftsinstitut (2016).

61 Cf. TRENDONE (2017b).

62 Cf. TRENDONE (2017b); Zukunftsinstitut (2016).

63 Cf. One America (2016); TRENDONE (2017b).

64 Cf. TRENDONE (2017b).

65 Astill, K. cited by Korn Ferry, Hay Group (2014b), p. 2.

66 Cf. Korn Ferry, Hay Group (2014a).

67 Cf. Deutsche Bank (2017).

68 Cf. (2017); (2017a).

69 Cf. Hess, B. (2009), p. 19.

70 Then, W. (1994), p. 239.

71 Cf. Hess, B. (2009), p. 19.

72 Cf. ibidem, p. 19 f.

73 Cf. ibidem, p. 43.

74 Cf. Hess, B. (2009), p. 46 f.; (2017b).

75 Cf. Bundesgesetzblatt im Internet (1998); Bundesgesetzblatt im Internet (2008); Gesetze im Internet (2011).

76 Cf. Hess, B. (2009), p. 43.

77 Cf. Pohl, E. (2008), p. 20 f.; Wehrhahn, B. et al. (2001), p. 69.

78 Cf. Hamann, W. (2005), p. 103; Hess, B. (2009), p. 20, Pohl, E. (2008), p. 20 f.

79 Cf. Hess, B. (2009), p. 51.

80 Cf. Hess, B. (2009), p. 50 f.; Siemers, B. (2005), p. 54.

81 Cf. Wimdu (2016).

82 Cf. Hess, B. (2009), p. 71.

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Critical Analysis of Travel-Sabbaticals for International Employers. Chances and Risks
University of Applied Sciences Essen
Abschlussarbeit des Bachelor Studiengangs International Management
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Sabbatical, Travel-Sabbatical, International Employers, Bedürfnispyramide, Chances and Risks, Megatrends, Cultural diversity, International Human Ressource Management, Human Ressource, Motivation, Employee satisfaction, Development, Softskills, Entrepreneurial Risks, HR Instrument, Employee Needs, Sabbatical Adventages, Sabbatical Costs
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Marina Gentgen (Author), 2017, Critical Analysis of Travel-Sabbaticals for International Employers. Chances and Risks, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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