Discuss two (2) reasons cited for the failure of the U.S. expatriate managers. Then discuss two (2) competencies that ensure success for expatriates and two (2) types of cross-cultural training can be offered to help departing managers adjust to a foreign culture.
It has been observed that the U.S expatriate managers have a considerably high failure rates in their career. It means the foreign careers of U.S expatriate managers end up prematurely or they are found to be ineffective by their senior managements. The major factors contributing to the failure of U.S expatriate managers are family stress, emotional immaturity, cultural inflexibility, over work and physical breakdown. Here the reasons family stress and cultural inflexibility are discussed in detail.
Stress experienced within family has been observed as a factor resulting in the failure of an expatriate manager. It takes a reasonable time for the managers and their families to adjust with the new circumstances. Most often, the managers will be challenged and excited to start their new careers in another country. They will be aware of the fact that they need to spend more time on their work until they are accustomed to the new culture and atmosphere. Soon, they will realize that their responsibilities are a little harder than those they previously handed. In their effort to adjust with the new culture and extensive responsibilities, they feel mostly under pressure and tend to spend more time in workplaces to sort out things at the earliest. Consequently, their family life suffers and their spouses also will be experiencing a culture shock in the new country. An unhappy spouse will worsen the energy level of the already stressed expatriate manager. Accordingly, most expatriate postings are either terminated or their results get impaired in foreign countries.
Cultural Inflexibility is another important factor that causes failure of expatriate managers. To be successful in a new workplace in a foreign country, the mangers need to be flexible to the cultural differences experienced there. It will be a difficult task for the expatriate manager to have a balance between approved local conventions and accepted international standards. In many of the Asian countries, religion has an important role to play in their cultural attitudes. Managing culturally diverse people require very different strategies that the expatriate manages are not familiar with. As the US expatriate managers are poorly trained for international assignments, they experience difficulty in adapting to the new culture and tradition. The adaptation to the new place, language, people and their cultural attitudes slow down their workplace performance. Also in the workplace, they experience the cultural shock in the different working mode and staff relations.
For avoiding failure, expatriate managers must have certain competencies. Here the competencies to ‘handle stress’ and ‘cultural adaptability’ are discussed. Ability to handle stress is an essential competence that all successful managers must have. Expatriate mangers experience stress due to the culture shock, unhappy family settings, work load, increased responsibilities and due to difficulties of everyday expatriate life. If the manager is competent to manage stress using sufficient stress management techniques, he will be able to control the situation and can become a successful manager. Another important competency required for the expatriate managers is cultural adaptability. An expatriate manage can perform well abroad if he has the competency to adapt to multi-cultural environments. If they have competence of cultural adaptability, they can easily develop a global perspective for their business. Such expatriate managers are able to recognize cross-border opportunities and can identify risks with a global perspective.
Organizations have now realized that their managers are not competent to ensure success in their foreign assignments. They have started preparation activities and training programs before sending their managers to foreign countries. Cross-cultural training includes different organized experience planned for departing managers. Cross-cultural training helps managers to adjust with a foreign culture. Different organizations engage in different types of cross cultural training for their managers. The major difference between various programs is in the time spent and the expenses incurred. Depending on these two factors they can be easiest, moderate difficult or most difficult. In the easiest type of cross cultural training, the training is limited to informational materials such as books, lectures or Internet searches. Moderate difficult type involves experimental training and the most difficult type of cross-cultural training is a combination of the preceding methods and experimental training including language instruction and field experience in the target foreign culture.
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