ConocoPhillips: Retaining and Leveraging Investment in Expatriates through Repatriation and Knowledge Management


Global oil leader, ConocoPhillips, was transferring more than 300 expatriate families around the world per year.

The total cost per family (relocation, training, living and working expenses) was estimated at $2 million over a three year timeframe. For most companies, there is a loss approximately 40% of the expats within two years of repatriation, which on the average would represent a representing a human capital investment loss of $120 million per year based on ConocoPhillips' 300 yearly expatriate transfers.

Further, the inability to systematically capture and leverage the experience gained from the expats while on their international assignment would represent an additional investment loss of $75 million.

ConocoPhillips' two challenges were to:

  • Retain their returning assignees
  • Capture and leverage the collective knowledge gained from employees international experiences


Global Dynamics Inc. developed a family pre-departure program that enhanced the expatriate family's transition to their new living and working environment. Equipped with a more realistic understanding of the new culture and the process of adjustment, the families were better prepared for the experience and more effective in taking full advantage of their new opportunities.

We also implemented a family re-entry program that served as a comprehensive debriefing on the entire expatriate experience and examines the process of re-entry. The program enabled participants to gain a better understanding of the significance of these unique experiences on their lives and learn to use the skills and knowledge gained from their assignment that enhanced their personal and professional lives.

Finally, Global Dynamics inc. implemented a knowledge management solution to systematically capture the international experiences, identify the subject matter experts, and leverage the best practices within the organization.


  • ConocoPhillips reports that GDI's comprehensive solution enhanced the international experience and increased the success factors while increasing the retention of the returning international assignee.
  • ConocoPhillips' new knowledge management solution from GDI enables the company to indefinitely retain and leverage knowledge gained from expatriate experiences.