The orientation and training that expatriates and their families receive before departure have a major impact on the success of the overseas assignment. Three areas affect the cross-cultural adjustment process: (a) work adjustment,(b) interaction adjustment, and (c) general adjustment. Permeating all of those areas is the need for training in foreign language and culture familiarization. Many firms have formal training programs for expatriates and their families, and this training has been found to have a positive effect on cross-cultural adjustment.
Individuals selected to work outside the
for MNEs need answers to many specific questions about their host countries. Such areas as political and historical forces, geographic and climatic conditions, and general living conditions are topics frequently covered in the orientation and training sessions on the culture of the host country. Expatriates and their families also must receive detailed, country-specific training on customs in the host country. Such knowledge will greatly ease their way in dealing with host-country counterparts. Training in such customs and practices also should be part of the training programs for individuals who will not live outside the home country but will travel to other countries for business purposes. United States
A related issue is the promotion and transfer of foreign citizens to positions in the
. As more global organizations start or expand United States operations, more cross-cultural training will be necessary for international employees relocated to the U.S. . For example, many Japanese firms operating in the United States have training programs to prepare Japanese for the food, customs, and other practices of United States life. The acceptance of a foreign boss by U.S. workers is another concern. These issues point to the importance of training and development for international adjustment. U.S.
Once global employees arrive in the host country, they will need assistance in “settling in.” Arrangements should be made for someone to meet them and assist them. Obtaining housing, establishing bank accounts, obtaining driver’s licenses, arranging for admissions to schools for dependent children, and establishing a medical provider relationship are all basics when relocating to a
, internationally or not. But differences in culture, language, and laws may complicate these activities in a foreign country. The sooner the expatriates and their families can establish a “normal” life, the better the adjustment will be, and the less likely that expatriate failure will occur. new city
Career planning and continued involvement of expatriates in corporate employee development activities are essential. One of the greatest deterrents to accepting foreign assignments is employees’ concern that they will be “out of sight, out of mind.” If they do not have direct and regular contact with others at the corporate headquarters, many expatriates experience anxiety about their continued career progression. Therefore, the international experiences of expatriates must be seen as beneficial to the employer and to the expatriate’s career.
One way to overcome problems in this area is for firms to invite the expatriates back for regular interaction and development programs with other company managers and professionals. Another useful approach is to establish a mentoring system. In this system, an expatriate is matched with a corporate executive in the headquarters. This executive talks with the expatriate frequently, ensures that the expatriate’s name is submitted during promotion and development discussions at the headquarters, and resolves any headquarters-based problems experienced by the expatriate.
Opportunities for continuing education represent another way for international employees to continue their development. In some of the more developed European countries, foreign executives and professionals may enroll in Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs at well-respected universities. By obtaining an MBA while on the international assignment, the expatriate keeps up with those with similar jobs in the home country who pursue advanced degrees while working full time.