Article Entitled
"Training to International Assignees"
Theoretical Study


By
Santhosh Kumar.N.
Faculty
Koshys Institute of Management Studies
Dr.M.K Purushothama
HOD
Vivekananda Degree College
Bangalore
Nagesh B.N.
Faculty
Koshys Institute of Management Studies
 


Introduction:

Training and orientation for international assignments are more common today. It is estimated that 50 percent of companies who sent employees overseas were conducting pre-training and orientation. Countries such as Japan are more committed to the importance of training for international assignments.

Meaning:

The word comes from the Latin term expatriates ex "out of" and patria and means "fatherland".

The term expatriate refers to "an employee sent by his or her company in one Country to manage operations in a different country" and by so doing, organization can send their own employees from their parent countries or even from third countries to a host country. In a company, the definition of expatriate is an employee who lives and works in a foreign location other than his or her home country.

Objectives:

1. To identify the objectives and priorities of the international assignment
2. To understand the concept of culture and its impact on day-to day living and business
3. To identify personal value sets and communication style
4. To understand key intercultural competency skills necessary for successful expatriation
5. To learn about culture-specific business and daily living practices
6. To understand the cultural adjustment cycle and healthy approaches to mange it

Roles and responsibilities:

"In today's highly competitive global business environment, multinational companies (MNCs) recognize that human resources play a necessary role in developing and sustaining a competitive advantage" (cited from Caligiuri et al., 2001b). "The international arena can provide lucrative opportunity for expansion" (cited from Puccino, 2005). "Untapped markets, resources, technology, customers and partners could potentially boost an organization's competitive advantage and profitability" (cited from Puccino, 2005). As companies move toward a more global operating model, it becomes increasingly necessary to focus attention on developing appropriate training methods which improve employees' global, or cross-cultural, competence which in turn enables them to work effectively across borders and work with those from diverse cultures (Caligiuri et al., 2001b). With the rapid globalization the number of expatriate employees, defined as employees residing and working outside of their home country, continues to rise (Puccino, 2005). PricewaterhouseCoopers International Assignment Global Policy and Practice Survey 2005 underpins this argument and indicates that despite predictions that the number of expatriates will decrease over the next years, due to a struggling world economy and the increasing popularity of alternatives to expatriation such as frequent flying or Euro-commuting (Forster, 2000; Petrovic et al., 2000 in Brewster and Scullion, 2001), the vast majority of participants in the PWC survey expect a growth in the number of international assignments. As Harris and Brewster (1999, in Beaverstock, 2001) observe, "the rapid globalization of business has led to an ever increasing need to 'internationalize' managers within organizations". Beaverstock (2001) states that it is now readily acknowledged in the human resource management literature that one of the major implications of the ever increasing globalization of firms is the steady growth in the magnitude, importance and complexity of expatriation (e.g. Bartlett and Ghoshal, 1992; Brewster, 1991; Forster 2000; Koser and Salt, 1998; Welch, 1994). Successful expatriate assignments are indispensable to MNCs for both developmental and functional reasons (Adler, 1983; Brake et al., 1994; Dowling et al., 1998; Mendenhall and Oddou, 1985; Stroh and Caligiuri, 1998; Tung and Miller, 1990; in Caliguiri et al., 2001a). "The global business environment makes expatriate assignments a necessary, but risky proposition" (cited from Jack and Stage, 2005). Success on a global assignment is greatly influenced by an expatriate's cross-cultural adjustment to the host country (Black and Mendenhall, 1990; Caligiuri, 1997; Kealey and Protheroe, 1996; Sappinen, 1993, in Caliguiri et al., 2001a ). For example, cross-cultural adjustment is positively related to performance on the assignment and negatively related to the premature termination of the assignment (Black, 1988; Caligiuri, 1997; Tung, 1981, in Caliguiri et al., 2001a ). "For these reasons, research examining ways to predict and improve cross-cultural adjustment have received much attention in the recent past" (cited from Caliguiri et al, 2001, who name the following: Aycan, 1997; Aryee and Stone, 1996; Black and Gregersen, 1991; Black et al., 1991; Kealey, 1989; McEvoy and Parker, 1995; Morley et al., 1999; Robie and Ryan, 1996; Schneider and Asakawa, 1995). However, the most common criticism on HRM practices in multinational companies still is the lack of sufficient expatriate training. Studies, such as those of Mendenhall and Oddou (1985, in Linehan and Walsh, 1999) and Dowling et al. (1994 in Linehan and Walsh, 1999) reveal that merely a small number of companies offer any kind of pre-departure training, and if, it reflects hardly any recommendations arising from research.

Need and importance:

1. To increase productivity: Instruction can help employees increase their level of performance on their present and Future assignment. Increased human performance often directly leads to increased operational productivity and increased company profit Again increased performance and productivity, because of training are most evident on the part of the employees who are not yet fully aware of the most efficient and effective ways of performing their jobs.

2. To improve quality: Better informed workers are less likely to make operational mistakes. Quality increases may be in relationship to a company product or service, or in reference to the intangible organizational employment atmosphere.

3. To help a company fulfill its future personnel needs: Organizations that have a good internal educational programme will have to make less drastic manpower changes and adjustments in the events of sudden personnel alternations. When needs arises, for organizational vaccines can more easily be staffed from internal sources if a company initiates and maintains an adequate instructional programme for both its non-supervisory and managerial employees.

Advantages and Disadvantages:

There are several advantages and disadvantages of using expatriate employees to staff international company subsidiaries.

Advantages include, permitting closer control and coordination of international subsidiaries and providing a broader global perspective.

Disadvantages include high transfer costs, the possibility of encountering local government restrictions, and possibly creating a problem of adaptability to foreign environments.

Benefits:

To understand and implement expatriate compensation packages, you'll probably need training, either in a formal setting or one-on-one from a consultant. Expatriate benefits education and training can include the following:

* Getting a degree in human resources with a focus on management and compensation.
At the very least, you'll need an undergraduate or graduate degree in human resources, which can serve as a foundation for more specialized training. Most universities offer both bachelors and masters, or even doctoral degrees, in human resources, including how to manage expatriate employees.

Hiring a consultant to train your staff about expat employee benefits: While many consultants and coaches will create and oversee expatriate benefit programs, many will also train you so you can do it yourself. This method is more "hands-on," and will allow your company to be more self-sufficient, rather than having to turn to an expert every time you have a question. An added benefit is that you can train your entire company at once, rather than only select employees.

Impact of Training:

There will be a strong cross-cultural training program in every organization that employs expatriates as among their employees. The training programs will not only be restricted to organizational culture in the company but also about other country culture in general. The training program should be handled and facilitated by both, foreign country and home-country   presentatives.

Intellectual discourse or talks and more research should be done in order to have a better understanding of the cultural differences among expatriates and the locals.

Everyone should also be aware of the cultural differences that exist among various nationalities in all countries. This could help to avoid or lessen misunderstandings or miscommunication during interactions between home country employees and foreigners

Conclusion:

The empirical findings show that the pre-departure training expatriates receive are focused on work related issues, hence cultural awareness training are often neglected. This leads to problems for the expatriates, like for example integration problems, adjustment problems for the expatriate and his/her family members, and not being able to communicate in the local language. Also the support received from the home country company are many times insufficient, and the home country companies rarely provide the expatriates with any form of repatriation program to ease their re-adjustment process. This study shows that many organizations need to improve the different parts of their expatriation process. The organizations should especially focus on developing their pre-departure training to include cultural training for both the expatriate and the spouse, and develop a sufficient repatriation program.
 


Santhosh Kumar.N.
Faculty
Koshys Institute of Management Studies
Dr.M.K Purushothama
HOD
Vivekananda Degree College
Bangalore
Nagesh B.N.
Faculty
Koshys Institute of Management Studies
 

Source: E-mail August 13, 2012

          

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