Essays /

12 Hsiu Chingkomu Liyang Essay

Essay preview

Intercultural Communication Studies XX: 1 (2011)

Ko & Yang

The Effects of Cross-Cultural Training on Expatriate Assignments Hsiu-Ching Ko & Mu-Li Yang
Chang Jung Christian University, Taiwan
Abstract
The demands of market globalization find many business managers operating in countries other than their own. These expatriate managers face many challenges which they can only meet successfully if they are properly prepared through sound cross-cultural training (CCT). The literature dealing with CCT expounds on the various methods being used, including the cognitive, the affective, the experiential approach, and the language training. This study follows the qualitative in-depth interview approach with a specific protocol that looks into the effectiveness of CCT in terms of language training and post-arrival cross-cultural training. It also puts forth specific recommendations regarding CCT programs, their impact upon cross-cultural competence, upon the skills needed for effective cross-cultural communication, and for the best possible performance on the job.

Keywords: expatriate management, cross-cultural training, cross-cultural competence, language training, job performance, qualitative methodology
Introduction
Increasing economic globalization has spurred the expansion of multinational corporations (MNCs) and has multiplied the numbers of the human capital moving across the globe. In order to maintain and enhance their global competitiveness, the MNCs rely on finding the right people who can effectively manage and operate their overseas businesses (Dowling & Welch, 2005). However, expatriate assignments are not always successful, and failure ranges from 16% to 40% (Tung, 1981, Black, 1988; Employee Benefit Plan Review, 2001). Although Dowling and Welch (2005) suggest that expatriate failure is declining and some alternate research argues that it might not be as high as the literature indicates (Osman-Gani & Rockstuhl, 2009; Forster, 1997; Harzing & Christensen, 2004), studies conducted by Black and Gregerson (2007) confirm that nearly one-third of the expatriates who complete their overseas assignments did not perform up to the expectations of their superiors. Moreover, the financial cost of expatriate failure and their underperformance are usually very high (Scullion, 2005; Harzing & Christensen, 2004). All of these factors point to the fact that expatriate failure is a serious matter for the MNCs (Black & Gregerson, 2007; Tung, 1981), one that requires them to find effective ways to deal with it. Working in a culturally different environment is always a challenge, so it is not surprising that the lack of cultural knowledge and language ability, as well as a difficulty to adjust to the local culture, are major factors contributing to expatriate failure (Briscoe & Schuler; 2004; Dowling & Welch, 2005). Consequently, learning about cultures, becoming aware of cultural differences, and having competence in cross-cultural communication are a must for expatriate

158

Intercultural Communication Studies XX: 1 (2011)

Ko & Yang

managers so that they can adjust to a new cultural environment and carry out a successful overseas assignment. However, these competencies are not acquired overnight. Aware of these realities, an increasing number of MNCs endeavor to equip their expatriates with competencies necessary for effectively working overseas through cross-cultural training (Ashamalla, 1998; Caligiuri, Phillips, Lazarova, Tarique, & Burgi, 2001) in spite of the fact that the effectiveness of cross-cultural training on overseas assignments is not strongly asserted in the literature (Black & Mendenhall, 1990; Litlrell & Salas, 2005; Selmer, 2005). Our contemporary world is one of cultural diversity and the MNCs normally operate within diverse cultural environments. For the expatriates, then, cultural issues of all sorts, whether at home or in the host country, become basic concerns. Culture is what makes us what we are and our cultural backgrounds influence everything we do at all times and in all places (Boakari, 2004). We learn about and live our local cultures through the processes of socialization and acculturation that begin in childhood. Now, in order to be functional in a different culture, we need to appreciate its values, norms, beliefs, and behavior patterns and learn to adjust to them as much as possible. Proficiency in the language of the host country goes a long way to provide someone with the tools of cultural competence. The more the expatriate knows about the host culture (including speaking the local language), about its values and expectations, and the more proficient he/she is in the local language, the greater his/her chances of a successful job performance. All of this adds to a cross-cultural learning that will greatly facilitate his/her professional life while managing the business of the organization within the parameters of a different culture.

To respond to the calls for context-specific research in MNCs (Luo & Shenkar, 2006) and for using qualitative research method in the effectiveness of CCT learning (Oman-Gani & Rockstuhl, 2009), thus, this study contributes to expatriate management literature on the knowledge, usefulness, understanding, and effectiveness of CCT through adopting a qualitative in-depth interview approach designed to gauge the impact of CCT upon expatriates’ crosscultural adjustment and job-related performance with participants of Taiwanese expatriates relocated in the United States.

We begin the review of the literature with a brief discussion of the objectives of crosscultural training. Next, we review the cross-cultural training methods. Finally, we look into the effectiveness of CCT in relation to expatriate assignments.

Literature Review
Objectives of Cross-cultural Training
Caligiuri, Lazarova, and Tarique (2005) point out that cross-cultural training aims at helping employees feel comfortable living and working in a host country, thus enhancing their cross-cultural adjustment and strengthening their ability to understand and appreciate multiple cultural perspectives.

Given the concerns about the high ratio of expatriate failure, the high cost of these failures, and how they impact upon the MNCs, Bennett, Aston, and Colquhoun (2000) put forth specific recommendations designed to enhance the success of expatriate assignments and minimize

159

Intercultural Communication Studies XX: 1 (2011)

Ko & Yang

failure. They contend that cross-cultural training programs should be crafted in such a way that objectives will help assignees do three things: (1) manage change in terms of personal and professional transition; (2) manage cultural differences; and (3) manage their responsibilities within a different cultural environment.

The Methodology of Cross-cultural Training
Many researchers have outlined a number of CCT methodologies. Major studies were made by Tung (1981, 1982), Brislin, Landis, and Brandt (1983), Mendenhall, Dunbar, and Oddou (1987), and Black and Mendenhall (1989). They note that skills and abilities required of the expatriates are, indeed, highly demanding, and these authors use different approaches to integrate them into training programs, which are briefly discussed in this section: the cognitive, the affective, the experiential, and the language-learning approach. The Cognitive Approach.

The cognitive or information-acquiring approach deals with “the learning of information or skills from a lecture-type orientation” (Mendenhall et al., 1987, p. 339). Its basic assumption is that “knowledge will increase empathy, and empathy will modify behavior in such a way as to improve intercultural relationships” (Campbell, 1969, p. 3). Tung’s Area Studies and Brislin, Landis, and Brandt’s (1983) fact-orientation training fit into this category. The fact-orientation, advocated by Brislin et al. (1983), resembles Tung’s Area Studies (1981, 1982) in that it includes environmental briefing and culture-orientation programs designed to provide trainees with information regarding the history, the geography, the religion, the people, the economy, and the way of life of the target culture. Although the cognitive method was the most popular in CCT during the 1960s, and it remains popular (Bhawuk & Brislin, 2000), Harrison and Hopkins (1967) found that the informationacquiring approach was not very effective. They recommend the experiential method as better, and this led to the multiplication of experiential exercises and cultural assimilators (Bhawuk & Brislin, 2000).

The Affective Approach.
“The learning of information or skills via techniques that raise affective responses on the part of the trainee, which results in cultural insights,” defines the affective approach (Mendenhall et al., 1987, p. 339). Tung’s (1981) cultural assimilation and sensitivity training as well as Brislin et al.’s (1983) attribution training and cultural awareness are also grouped together with the affective approach in CCT.

While cultural assimilation training assists members of one culture to interact and adjust successfully with members of another culture (Fiedler, Mitchell, & Triandis, 1971), attribution training enables trainees to make isomorphic attribution and to handle discomfort expectation as well as possible, in order to internalize the values and standards of the host country (Eschbach, Parker, & Stoeberl, 2001; Littrell & Salas, 2005). Overseas assignments require

160

Intercultural Communication Studies XX: 1 (2011)

Ko & Yang

that the expatriates establish extensive contact with the nationals of the host country (Tung, 1981), which suggests that cultural assimilation training should be supplemented by language, sensitivity, and field training.

Moreover, while cultural awareness training is “the study of the trainee’s home culture and its effect on his/her behavior to enable the trainee to understand the nature of cultural differences” (Eschbach et al., 2001), sensitivity training leads the trainees to understand their own values and culture and to be aware of cultural differences by demonstrating a behavior that may be completely different from that of their own culture (Tung, 1981). The strength of cultural awareness training co...

Read more

Keywords

-102 -114 -125 -128 -134 -136 -140 -165 -171 -188 -191 -21 -250 -287 -290 -294 -311 -334 -339 -35 -353 -372 -41 -433 -460 -50 -61 -626 -65 -698 -71 -78 -781 -82 -84 -86 -90 1 10 100 105 106 112 113 117 119 12 141 15 157 158 159 16 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 176 18 19 1960s 1967 1969 1971 1979 1981 1982 1983 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1996 1997 1998 1999 2 2/3 20 2000 2001 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 227 23 239 245 25 26 27 270 272 277 28 29 2nd 3 30 300 302 305 312 321 33 331345 339 34 341 357 37 39 4 40 414 431 48 49 4th 5 511 539 54 55 57 6 616 65 68 685 7 71 763 8 9 90 95 aahad abandon abil abl abroad abstract academi accept accompani accomplish accord account accultur accur acknowledg acquir across act activ actual ad adapt add addit address adequ adjust adopt advantag advoc affect age agre aim airlin al alan allow almost alreadi also altern although alway american amount analys analysi analyz ann anne-katrin anne-wil anoth anselm answer anti anti-trust anyth appli appreci approach appropri area argu around arriv ashamalla asia ask assert assess assign assigne assimil assist assumpt aston attain attempt attend attent attitudes/behavior attorney attribut audio audio-tap author avail avoid awar aycan ayoko bachelor back background barrier base basic becam becom begin behalf behav behavior belief benefit bennett besid best better beyond bhawuk black blend boakari bound brandl brandt bridg brief briefli brisco brislin british build built burgi busi ca caligiuri caliguri call came campbel candid cannot capit care career careering-path carri case categori cct center ceo certain challeng chanc chang characterist charmin chet childhood china ching ching-hsiang chingkomu chosen christensen christian christoph clariti class classifi claus clear client close co co-opt co-work code coffe cognit cohes coll colleagu collect collin colquhoun columbia come comfort comment commerc commerci committe communic communiti compani compar comparison compet competit complet compli complianc compon concept conceptu concern conclus condit conduct confid confirm consensus consequ consid consider constant construct consult contact contemporari contend content context context-specif contrast contribut convers convey copi corbin corpor correct correspond corrobor cost could counti countri coupl cours cowork craft creat criteria critic critiqu crocitto cross cross-cultur crosscultur ct cultur culture-orient current daili damag daniel data david day deal decis declin defin degre demand demograph demonstr denic denni departur depend depth describ descript design despit detail determin develop devot dharm differ difficult difficulti dimens direct disclos discomfort discov discret discuss display divers document documentari dollar done door dori dowl draw due dunbar durat earley earli earn eas easier econom economi ed eduardo educ edward effect eight either elicit emerg emot empathi emphas empir employe employeremploye enabl encount encourag end endeavor engag english enhanc enlighten enorm enough enrich ensur entertain entir entri environ environment equip eschbach eschback especi establish et etc ethnic european evalu even ever everi everyth evid evolv examin exampl execut exercis expand expans expat expatri expect expens experi experienc experienceshar experienti explain explor expos expound extens face facilit fact fact-orient factor failur fair fair-trad familiar favor feel feeli felt femal fiedler field fieldler file final financi find fine finish first fisher fit five fluenci focus follow foreign form former forster forth found four framework franci fred friendship frustrat fuel fujimoto full fulli function fund furthermor futur g gain gani gap gari gaug general geographi gerald get given global globe goal goe good gradual great greater greatest greenwich greg gregersen gregerson gretchen ground group guid guidelin gulf gunter hal hand handbook handl harass hargi harm harri harrison hartel harz he/she headquart heard heart heavi help high highlight hire his/her histori hit holist home hopkin host hour houston howev hqsubsidiari hrm hsiang hsiu hsiu-ch hugh human hung hung-wen ibraiz idea identif identifi immers impact imper implic import impos improv in-depth inadequ includ inconclus incorpor increas inde indic individu industri influenc inform information-acquir informationacquir inner insight instruct instrument insuffici integr interact intercultur interest intern interrelationship interview interviewe introduct invest investig involv irwin isomorph issu j jai jan janet japan japanes jean job job-rel jobrel joint journal judgment julia juliet june jung k katrin kealey key keyword kind knew know know-how knowledg ko korean labor laboratori lack laid landi languag language-learn larg last law lawyer lay lazarova lead learn least lectur lecture-typ led lee left legal level li life like limit line line-by-lin linehan link lisa listen literatur litlrel littrel liu live liyang local logo london long look look-se loss lot luo maali macmillan made madelin main maintain major make male manag mani margaret mari mark market mason master materi matter maxim may mean meet member mendenhal mention met meta meta-analysi method methodolog michael micro micro-cultur middl might mila militari million minim misinterpret misunderstand mitchel mncs mode model modifi month moran moreov morri motiv move mu mu-li much multidimension multilingu multin multipl multipli musa must myth name nation natur naval near nearbi necess necessari necessarili need negoti nevertheless new newburi newspap next neyer nick non non-financi non-western nordic norm normal note number oak object obstacl obtain oddou ode oergamon offic oh old oluremi oman oman-gani one one-day one-third open open-end oper opt order organ organiz orient osman osman-gani other outlin overal overcom overlook overnight oversea oversight owen p paid pain palgrav paramet park parker part particip particular path pattern patton paula pay peltokorpi peopl perceiv percent percentag percept perform pergamon period permiss persist person personnel perspect pertin peter philipp phillip place plan play plus point polici popular pose posit possess possibl post post-arriv postarriv potenti power pp practic pre pre-departur predepartur predomin prejudic prematur prepar present press prevent primarili prioriti probabl problem procedur process product profess profession profici program proper properti propos prothero prothro protocol provid provis psycholog public purpos put qualit quantit question quicken quinn quit r rais ralli randal rang rate ratio reach reaction read realist realiti realiz realli reapprais reason receiv recogn recommend recount recruit reduc reduct refer refin regard regul relat relationship relev reli religion reloc remain remov repatri report repres requir research resembl resist resourc respect respond respons result retir retrospect reveal review revis rich richard richer right rita robert robi rockstuhl roger role role-play ronen room rosali rossman routin routledg rubin sage said sala sampl satisfact satisfactori satisfi say scandinavian scenario schuler scienc screen scullion second section see select self self-evalu self-report selfefficaci selmer semi semi-structur seminar send sensit sent sentenc serious serv set seven sever sexual share sharon sharpen shenkar shop shorten show simcha similar simpli simul sinc singl situat six size sketch skill small smooth social someon sort sound south south-western speak specif spell spend spent spite spoke spur stabil staf staff stage stahl standard state statement stay stem step stewart still stoeberl strauss strength strengthen stress strong structur studi subordin subsidiari success suffer suggest suit superior supplement support sure surpris survey system systemat tactic taiwan taiwanes take talk tape target tariqu task taught team techniqu tell terenc term termin test text theme theoret theori theory-bas therefor thing think third thoma though thousand three throughout thus time togeth took tool top tourish traci trade train traine trainer transcrib transcript transit triandi troubl trust tung turn two tx type u.s unabl undergon underperform understand understood unit univers unmistak unwilling upon us us-bas use usual util valu various ventur verbatim verif vesa via view violat virtual visit vital vol vol.4 w want way weak weaken week welch well well-experienc wen western whatev whenev whether wil wiley willing win within without work worker workshop world worth would written xx yadong yang year yet yield york yuka zeynep