Last Updated 27 Jul 2020

Career Development International

Category Career
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Cross-cultural training reduces expatriate and foreign venture failure. Such training is important for all expatriates, but especially important for individuals with little knowledge of the host environment. Cross-cultural training eases the burden of culture shock and helps expatriates to adjust to their new surroundings. Cross-cultural training is a second best solution because it does not provide expatriates with either deep understanding of the host environment nor the complex mental models needed to navigate foreign formal and informal institutions.

Consequently, utilisation of cultural diversity capabilities remains a superior solution. (Lay, Nicholas, Flynn, Riccioti and Sammartino, 2001) Apart from training, properly thought out, equitable and attractive compensation plays a very important role in attracting and motivating managers to take up foreign assignments and put their best foot forward for achieving corporate objectives.

While the importance of taking up foreign postings for furtherance of career and corporate objectives in todays globalised environment is evident to managers companies and HR departments need to realise that overseas assignments, particularly if they are first time, bring with them a number of challenges at the personal and working level that need to be overcome satisfactorily to optimise performance. Organisational support in matters like housing, schooling and introductions to the local international community thus go a long way towards making managers comfortable and increasing their chances of success in their assignments.

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Current concerns about expatriate performance have led researchers to delve deeply into the subject. Most indicators of expatriate failures are linked to the premature ending of an assignment; these could happen due to the deliberate withdrawal of managers from their assignment at the instance of the company, their premature resignations or even service terminations. Underperformance has been defined by Harzing (2004) as “the inability of the expatriate or repatriate to perform according to the . expectations of the organisation” and may or may not be linked to his/her premature return.

In this context, management experts feel that failure could, apart from wrong selection and inadequate training may be linked to normal HR reasons that need to be implemented properly for expatriate success. “According to Armstrong (1994) an integrated performance management system would include the following aspects: clearly communicated links to organizational strategy, individual performance goals, regular feedback on progress, opportunities for performance improvement and links between performance and rewards.

” (Harzing and Christensen, 2004) It is imperative to communicate goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely, (SMART) to the managers and take account of local variables, difficulties and constraints at the time of appraisal and measurement. An expatriate experience culminates with the return of the managers to their home organisations and their successful assimilation in their home corporate environment.

It does happen on many occasions that the assimilation process is unsatisfactory and returning expatriates feel that their position has been undermined and skills underutilized by the home organisation. Incidences of resignation after return are quite common and home organisations, to complete a successful expatriation experience, must ensure appropriate assimilation and utilize the enhanced training, experience and competence of these managers.


Harzing, A and Christensen, C, 2004, Expatriate failure, time to abandon the concept, Career Development International, Vol. 9, no. 7, Retrieved December 20, 2006 from www. emeraldinsight. com/1362-0436. htm Harzing, A, 2002, An analysis of the functions of the international transfers of managers in MNCs, Employee Relations, Vol. 23, No. 6, Retrieved December 20, 2006 from www. emeraldinsight. com/1362-0436. htm

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