Expatriate Training and Support

Topics: Expatriate, Cross-cultural communication, Human resource management Pages: 11 (2824 words) Published: November 10, 2011
© 2005 All Rights Reserved - Michael Beitler
Please feel free to send this article (unedited) to anyone and everyone who might be interested. Expatriate Training & Support
Michael Beitler, Ph.D.
www.mikebeitler.com
By necessity, much of the responsibility for success in international markets falls upon expatriate managers. Expatriate managers are managers working in countries other than their home countries. Successful implementation of a global business strategy requires expatriate managers with cross-cultural management skills.

High Failure Rates
Expatriate managers, especially U.S. managers working in foreign countries, experience very high failure rates. Black and Gregersen (1999) report the following alarming findings:
1. Nearly one-third of U.S. managers sent abroad do not
perform up to the expectations of their superiors.
2. Up to 20 percent of all U.S. managers sent abroad return
Expatriate Training & Support www.mikebeitler.com
2
© 2005 All Rights Reserved - Michael Beitler
Please feel free to send this article (unedited) to anyone and everyone who might be interested. early because of job dissatisfaction or difficulties in
adjusting to a foreign country.
3. One-fourth of U.S. managers completing a foreign
assignment left their company within one year after
repatriation (often joining a competitor).
Perhaps, what is even more disturbing than Black and Gregersen's findings is the fact that we have known about these appalling failure rates for many years. In January of 1990, a Training & Development Journal article stated, "Up to 40 percent of U.S. expatriate managers fail in their overseas assignments" (Hogan and Goodson, 1990).

In that same article, Hogan and Goodson described how the Japanese companies had achieved a dramatically better success rate with their expatriate managers. They discussed one survey that stated "86 percent of multinational corporations in Japan had failure rates below 10 percent for their expatriates.” Hogan and Goodson (1990) described the typical Japanese firm's expatriate support program as follows:

Expatriate Training & Support www.mikebeitler.com
3
© 2005 All Rights Reserved - Michael Beitler
Please feel free to send this article (unedited) to anyone and everyone who might be interested. 1. One year before managers depart, they devote company time to studying the culture and language of the destination

country.
2. In the foreign country, the expatriate managers work with mentors who are responsible directly to the head office
for assisting the managers with cultural problems that
arise.
3. The first-year performance appraisal form clearly
indicates that the expatriate's primary job during year
one is to learn about and adjust to the host country.
Hogan and Goodson (1990) recommended the following:
1. Training should aim at developing communication,
leadership, conflict management, and other skills that
fit the particular culture.
2. Predeparture training should be tailored to the
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4
© 2005 All Rights Reserved - Michael Beitler
Please feel free to send this article (unedited) to anyone and everyone who might be interested. individual manager's needs. A minimum requirement is a
conversational knowledge of the host country's language.
3. The expatriate's family should receive predeparture
training.
4. Sponsorship (a mentor) should provide on-going support.
In a study involving survey responses of 72 human resource managers at multinational corporations (MNCs), 35 percent of the HR managers said cultural adaptability was the most important success factor in a foreign assignment (Dallas, 1995).

The Costs of the Problem
The costs of these expatriate management failures are very high for the managers and their companies. Managers report personal relationship problems with family members who move to the foreign country with them, and a sense of disconnect with their families and friends in their home...

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