12Hsiu ChingKoMu LiYang

Topics: Cross-cultural communication, Expatriate, Cultural competence Pages: 17 (7034 words) Published: December 8, 2014
Intercultural Communication Studies XX: 1 (2011)

Ko & Yang

The Effects of Cross-Cultural Training on Expatriate Assignments Hsiu-Ching Ko & Mu-Li Yang
Chang Jung Christian University, Taiwan
The demands of market globalization find many business managers operating in countries other than their own. These expatriate managers face many challenges which they can only meet successfully if they are properly prepared through sound cross-cultural training (CCT). The literature dealing with CCT expounds on the various methods being used, including the cognitive, the affective, the experiential approach, and the language training. This study follows the qualitative in-depth interview approach with a specific protocol that looks into the effectiveness of CCT in terms of language training and post-arrival cross-cultural training. It also puts forth specific recommendations regarding CCT programs, their impact upon cross-cultural competence, upon the skills needed for effective cross-cultural communication, and for the best possible performance on the job.

Keywords: expatriate management, cross-cultural training, cross-cultural competence, language training, job performance, qualitative methodology
Increasing economic globalization has spurred the expansion of multinational corporations (MNCs) and has multiplied the numbers of the human capital moving across the globe. In order to maintain and enhance their global competitiveness, the MNCs rely on finding the right people who can effectively manage and operate their overseas businesses (Dowling & Welch, 2005). However, expatriate assignments are not always successful, and failure ranges from 16% to 40% (Tung, 1981, Black, 1988; Employee Benefit Plan Review, 2001). Although Dowling and Welch (2005) suggest that expatriate failure is declining and some alternate research argues that it might not be as high as the literature indicates (Osman-Gani & Rockstuhl, 2009; Forster, 1997; Harzing & Christensen, 2004), studies conducted by Black and Gregerson (2007) confirm that nearly one-third of the expatriates who complete their overseas assignments did not perform up to the expectations of their superiors. Moreover, the financial cost of expatriate failure and their underperformance are usually very high (Scullion, 2005; Harzing & Christensen, 2004). All of these factors point to the fact that expatriate failure is a serious matter for the MNCs (Black & Gregerson, 2007; Tung, 1981), one that requires them to find effective ways to deal with it. Working in a culturally different environment is always a challenge, so it is not surprising that the lack of cultural knowledge and language ability, as well as a difficulty to adjust to the local culture, are major factors contributing to expatriate failure (Briscoe & Schuler; 2004; Dowling & Welch, 2005). Consequently, learning about cultures, becoming aware of cultural differences, and having competence in cross-cultural communication are a must for expatriate


Intercultural Communication Studies XX: 1 (2011)

Ko & Yang

managers so that they can adjust to a new cultural environment and carry out a successful overseas assignment. However, these competencies are not acquired overnight. Aware of these realities, an increasing number of MNCs endeavor to equip their expatriates with competencies necessary for effectively working overseas through cross-cultural training (Ashamalla, 1998; Caligiuri, Phillips, Lazarova, Tarique, & Burgi, 2001) in spite of the fact that the effectiveness of cross-cultural training on overseas assignments is not strongly asserted in the literature (Black & Mendenhall, 1990; Litlrell & Salas, 2005; Selmer, 2005). Our contemporary world is one of cultural diversity and the MNCs normally operate within diverse cultural environments. For the expatriates, then, cultural issues of all sorts, whether at home or in the host country, become basic concerns. Culture is what makes us what...

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