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Culture by definition, is a set of attitudes that are shared, goals, values, and practices that generally characterizes a group, organization or an institution. In particular, the culture of a group or a certain community is predominantly described by their attitudes and the behavior they have along with the values that hold them together. Such attitudes and behaviors shared in a community dictate the relationships that describe organizations, institutions and business sector in the larger perspective. For an outsider or somebody who ails from a different culture it becomes hard to integrate in the given culture. Nevertheless, cross cultural training can provide a foreigner with the right cultural knowledge that can pervade way in the new environment.
In the light of globalization, it is therefore important to learn different cultures in order to integrate viably in the international world of business. Currently, corporate and public organizations have been described by a global scale operation. This comes along with the challenges of working with a multiple cultures and still remains competent in the work. In most cases, if one is not aware of a certain culture, cannot be able to trade effectively in that culture.
However, a little more knowledge of the new culture can result to tremendous results and in terms of business, a business can flourish. Universally, Cross cultural training programs have been employed in order to help enhance globalization and at the same time enjoy the benefits that come along with it. In specific terms, cross cultural training abbreviated as CCT has been used as an effective tool to ensure that cultural awareness is promoted. Cultural awareness is essential if the interactions in a global scale are to be achieved. This factor can only be achieved by means of cross cultural training. This training as such equips the trainees with skills and knowledge that they can use and apply in a different culture other than the one that they come from. It helps one to know what to do and what not to do in a new country.
Effects of cross cultural training and definition of Expatriate
In connection to this, Cross Cultural Training has several effects on Expatriate Adjustment with different issues arising in terms of it benefits as well as drawbacks. Before exploring into the general effects of Cross Cultural Training on Expatriate Adjustment it is important to define the meaning of Expatriate. An expatriate when used in any context brings about the meaning of a person who is temporary or permanently residing in a different country and culture other than the person’s one of background and legal habitation (Landis, Bennett & Bennett 2004). In this sense, an Expatriate is a person living in a different country that he or she is a citizen. Such situations come in the context from a professional point of view.
This is to suggest that for professionals who have been sent to other countries by their companies for professional purposes are known as Expatriate. This differs from the term used to describe those individuals in a different country from their own and are locally hired. Such individuals are best described as immigrants. From this point of view, it is important to note that expatriates are individuals who have a job duty to accomplish in a foreign country. In this context, Cross Cultural Training on Expatriate Adjustment is required if the professionals are to prolifically integrate in the new country.
It is from this ground that Cross Cultural Training on Expatriate Adjustment has attracted a lot of research as it concerns the details of the associated benefits and drawbacks. Different views have been brought forward in terms of literature review. Hence, the topic under discussion is geared at providing an analysis of Cross Cultural Training on Expatriate Adjustment. The approach employed is in terms of literature review. This is to suggest that different views from different literatures have been brought into view.
Benefits of Cross Cultural Training on Expatriate Adjustment
According to Selmer (2010, p.41- 53), Cross Cultural Training on Expatriate Adjustment is useful focusing on the results of CCT on China’s expatriates. From this review of literature, a need for CCT programmes in order to enhance management skills in China by expatriates sent from Western firms was reflected on. Pointing on this factor, this would enable the professionals to apply their expertise with noticeable rewards to the benefit of the firms. A point of concern in this case arose as many respondents that were used in the study carried out suggested that a CCT application a few weeks before the departure would preferably result to rewarding results.
Despite the point of view of the majority being reflected on, there were a few others who did not advocate for CCT for the adjustment of the expatriates. The general overview in this case of China proposed that CCT was a useful program that would lead to great profits. Predominantly, most of the expatriates pointed out that CCT have the advantage of improving the managerial core activities with resultant factor of being good managers. For the benefit of those that are expatriates and those that may consider a posting in a foreign country, CCT was pointed out as an effective tool for adjustment (Landis, Bennett & Bennett 2004).
In the same line of thought, the issue of applying Cross Cultural Training on Expatriate Adjustment is so important that its importance cannot be underrated. The necessity of CCT to an expatriate is to ensure that the expatriates are equipped with the enough cultural awareness to negate competency in the profession. This is because, over time it has been noted with a lot of concern that culture has continually posed challenges to expatriates who would wish to achieve their highest goals and the proficiency that they are accorded to.
Different countries have different cultures that call for one to be acquainted with in order to penetrate in the market. For one, as an expatriate, a number of challenges come in the context. Culture being an important issue, challenges the expatriates and as a result, it limits them from exploring their potentials. Needless to say, culture affects all spheres of life along with the international business world and especially in the market (Landis, Bennett & Bennett 2004). Culture awareness being one of determinant factors of ones ability to penetrate in an international or rather a foreign country, training in it can work a lot of compensation whose advantage cannot be undervalued.
Notably, the benefit of Cross Cultural Training on Expatriate Adjustment has been realized owing to the fact that it reduces psychological distress and thus it makes the adjustment to the new environment to be easy. Again, CCT makes covers a wide range of issues at it relates to adjustment to the new environment (Landis, Bennett & Bennett 2004). Adjustment in this sense entails the psychological, physical as it is in healthy matters and in the larger perspective the adjustment to the environment. At the same time, research has put it forward that the ability of an expatriate to adjust to the foreign culture is enhanced by application of CCT.
According to Waxin and Panaccio (2005, p.51-56), cross cultural training has a great effect on what becomes of the expatriate state of adjustment. This is to mean that cross cultural training facilitates the adjustment of expatriates. It is vital for one to possess the knowledge that relocation is accompanied by much of psychological effects. Psychological effects in line with this are good indicators of whether an expatriate has managed to adjust to the new local environment or not. Therefore, this is one of the factors that put CCT as a catalyst to expatriate adjustment. At the same time, expatriate adjustment is a measure of effectiveness of an expatriate in carrying out his or her duties (Kohls & Brussow 1995). Along with this, the performance of an expatriate is directly linked to the adjustment to the new culture and environment. In an instance whereby an expatriate has an excellent performance, high turnover and profits as well, as such can be termed as one that has adjusted to the new culture, a process known as acculturalization.
Expatriate adjustment can be perceived through the psychological wellbeing of the expatriate. In line with this, the health and safety concerns of the expatriate as well as integrating in the foreign culture by controlling the environment are what cover the adjustment. Cross cultural training can be done prior to departure or while in the foreign country. Benefits that come along with cross cultural training are that one is helped with enough skills to integrate in the new culture (Landis, Bennett & Bennett 2004). With the knowledge of the new culture, one is able to adjust easily in changing his or her behavior to line with the new culture.
Cross cultural training also, enhances how one can be able to cope with culture shock along with the how one is able to recover from home sick. Exposure to the new climate can translate to both positive and negative effects. One can be affected by the climate but prior knowledge through cross cultural training can lead to mental preparation of expatriates to the new environment and thus adjustment can be easily perpetuated. CCT in this sense makes the expatriate to be rich in the knowledge of the new country and since challenges of a different language may arise, CCT will cover this requirement thus enhancing the possibility of expatriate adjustment facilitation though language training (Scullion & Collings 2006).
The health and safety concerns that in most cases confront the expatriates are well addressed and covered by CCT programs and thus questions of what may affect their health can be handled. Again, one can be so much afraid or rather may possess a sense of insecurity best described as safety concerns, but this is one of the aspects that are addressed by CCT. Concerns may rise regarding the foreign culture and what works and that which does not are covered in the cross cultural training that equips the expatriate with cultural skills to have aptitude in the new environment.
From this point of view, of importance to put forward is the fact that cross cultural training is important and it needs to be applied in order for expatriate adjustment to be realized. Expatriate adjustment as it has been pointed out is measured through the psychological well being of an expatriate and so to speak, the rate at which psychological stress due to relocation fades away is directly proportional to the rate of adjustment (Kohls & Brussow 1995). Adjustment of an expatriate to the new environment and culture is required if the performance in the international business world is to be realized. If somebody is mentally disturbed or distressed, dysfunction in the profession will automatically come in.
As such, the performance of the expatriate in the new environment will be affected and as a result, the job or the general performance of the company will fail. Generally, many individuals who take longer time to adjust to the new country come face to face with the challenge of safety, health and generally how to get acquainted with the new environment in the social part of it. If such people are exposed to cross cultural training, they may find it easy to learn and get absorbed in the new culture with desirable results. This is to suggest that such individuals have interpersonal relationships that are so good that their understanding of the host society is made easy. Communication in any organization makes the daily successes of the business. The presence of a new manager, who is a foreigner, can limit or cut short the job performance. This can result due to the fact that the employees and all the workers in the host country have been used to the managerial leadership formerly in place (Kohls & Brussow 1995).
Accordingly, there is variety of services that CCT has to offer. Among them is their capability to expose most of cultural opportunities for exploration and the cultural challenges. In regard to the challenges, the CCT offers the trainee with the right skills and ways on how to handle and confront such issues. On the other hand, for opportunities, CCT gives room for an Expatriate to explore the available benefits for development in the international world of business. In such a situation, an Expatriate adjustment can be accelerated as he or she even when faced with challenge is skilled and aptitude enough to cope with the challenges.
According to research findings, International training and development covers the cross cultural training in both the generalized part and the specific one. In cases whereby cross cultural training is issued as an international training activity, the knowledge of a given country to the assignee on culture is administered. On the other hand, when cross cultural training is given as an international development activity, then the trainee is equipped to interact with a multiple of cultural contexts (Selmer 1995). CCT can go further to an extent of administering pre-departure cross cultural orientation with the basics to know the currency, working hours and the public transportation available. This is aimed at enabling the trainee to work with comfort in the host country without necessarily struggling with the basics.
In combination with this, diversity training can be offered of which it means that one is equipped with skills to be able to understand and appreciate a diversified case of cultures. Besides this, language training as a package of cross cultural training can be offered with the sole aim of fulfilling a need if at all it is called for one to learn the language of the host country. By so doing, an Expatriate can issue commands without difficulties since he or she can be able to use the foreign language (Scullion & Collings 2006). Recognition and appreciation of different perspectives can be achieved through the aspect of applying cultural immersion experiences. As such, they produce culture shock on the Expatriate.
Drawbacks of cross cultural training on expatriate adjustment
Having pointed out on the benefits that cross cultural training have on the expatriate adjustment, it puts it a requirement to reflect on the drawbacks. Research findings have pointed out that there are several drawbacks that have faced CCT on Expatriate adjustment. For instance, cross cultural training programs are deficiency of all what it calls for, in order for the training to produce the results. Among the drawbacks there is the aspect of the trainees being dissatisfied with the CCT programs (Ward, Bochner & Furnham 2001). The dissatisfaction stems from the limited scope of the CCT programs without a comprehensive scope to address the expatriate’s adjustment. In this context, the belief in the irrelevance and incompetence of the cross culture training contribute to the failure of CCT in improving Expatriate adjustment.
Prior to the international assignments, there are constraints that have been reported thus limiting the effectiveness of CCT of the Expatriate adjustment. As such, they involve issues to do with one being distressed by the mere fact that disconnection with their own culture has emerged. Moreover, Employment of the local nationals in foreign subsidiaries has equally limited the expatriate adjustment through CCT programs (Scullion & Collings 2006). Furthermore, the cross cultural training is quite expensive and as a consequence, the lack of enough funds for it limits its application. Even though, cross cultural training may be valuable in some places, some top managers lack the perception of the need for it. It is therefore so hard for an expatriate to cope with the expatriate trouble, the reason of unpredictability, feeling of isolation and abandonment as well as confusion due to unexpected behavior in the host country.
Ward, Bochner and Furnham (2001), puts it that three determinants of expatriate adjustment exist. They involve psychological effects, Socialcultural adjustment and work adjustments. In relation to these three points of view, psychological well being is determined by both the mental and physical well being of an expatriate. In view of that, the sociocultural part of it covers issues to do with ones efficacy in the new society. It entails the successful handling of problems that are not related to the work while sustaining interpersonal relationships with the host country society.
Likewise, adjustments that relate to work requires that the expatriate be in a position to proficiently perform and accomplish goals and at the same time an organizational commitment to the local unit be realized. As a downside, Stahl and Björkman (2006, p.317) again puts it that cross cultural training has failed to meet the requirement of improvement in the performance of the Expatriate. According to the same literature review, cross cultural training was marked as to have impact in equipping on with learning skills and trainee satisfaction while less efficacy was realized don the attitudes and behaviors as well a adjustment of the expatriate. This is to bring about a picture that the effectiveness of Cross Cultural Training on Expatriate Adjustment was limited.
Research findings on the effects of Cross Cultural Training on Expatriate Adjustment vary greatly according to the literature available. Some of the findings indicate a positive relationship existing between the Cross Cultural Training and Expatriate Adjustment while others provide a negative relationship. According to Ward, Bochner and Furnham (2001, p.183), the cultural distance which can best be described as the distance between the expatriate and the host culture, has proved an obstacle to the adjustment of expatriates. More to the point, the personal attributes and technical qualifications as well as the demands of an Expatriates assignment, is another draw back and therefore it is required of the sojourners to be given to social support from colleagues and superiors not withholding the part played by moral support from the family members.
Since literature puts it that the quality of cross cultural training has been highlighted as a main draw back in realizing positive results on the expatriate adjustment, needless to say, remedy for the revision of the CCT is mandatory. Gannon and Newman (2002) research findings suggested some of the things that can be addressed in order for benefits to be realized when cross cultural training is applied and more specific in the aspect of the expatriate adjustment. In accordance to this, CCT programs should employ multilevel methods in stimulating the learning processes. In this case, cognitive, affective and behavioral areas are focused on. In spite of this, the CCT programs should not stop at pre-departure training but instead they should extent to an overseas training to cope with the problems stumbled upon (Gannon & Newman 2002, p.177).
As an expatriate, one can have all what it takes to in terms of cross cultural training acquired skills, however, success in terms of expatriate adjustment may be hindered by a resistance from the local staffs. In this context, the host country staff should also be trained for cross cultural interaction. As such, this can enhance the level of expatriate adjustment. Above and beyond, the overall expatriate adjustment has been pointed out as to be directly linked to a provision of a realistic job preview and in specific terms, cross cultural training fails to offer it. This makes an expatriate to realize what is required of him or her to do in the international assignment given (Vance, Vance & Paik 2006).
Other researches have attributed failure of expatriate managers to be stemming from lack of adjustment. So to articulate, lack of adjustment can be described by the aspect of an expatriate failing to adapt to the new country. This is through a lack of flexibility, failure to appreciate others culture and in the larger perspective lack of openmindness (Scullion & Collings 2006, p.66). A lack of the combination of these factors can lead to one failing to adjust in the new environment. As a matter of fact, one is taught how to interact and learn to appreciate others cultures during the cross cultural training of which an expatriate may fail to apply the skills acquired during the training. In such a situation, the expatriate adjustment to the new assignment can be challenged.
Drawbacks of cross cultural training in regard to expatriate adjustment can further be related to the fact that the training is short lived or rather it done within a very short period of time (Ward, Bochner & Furnham 2001). As a consequence, the material that require to be covered in details gets a brief attention hence the CCT goals for achieving expatriate adjustment to the new environment are not usually met.
Kohls & Brussow (1995) have provided from research that cross cultural training has a drawback on expatriate adjustment when it is administered a few weeks to departure. In their study, they have vehemently put it that CCT done within weeks before departure may not grant one viable results as during this time the expatriates are stresses and busy immersed on the logistics of preparation for the departure. In connection to this, somebody may be ignorant of the importance of cross cultural training and therefore end up not internalizing the materials acquired during the training. Sometimes, CCT may be limited in its effectiveness to necessitate expatriate adjustment if the trainers were not well acquainted with what they were to deliver. If only all the involved can come to the knowledge of how important cross cultural training is for expatriate adjustment, then the process would be simpler with rewarding results.
Research has revealed that CCT can be modulated in its effect by a prior international experience along with the cultural distance. In this good judgment, CCT effect is modulated thus affected either positively or negatively (Vance, Vance & Paik 2006). It has also been pointed out by researchers on this topic that the type of CCT program that one receives will determine how he or she will adjust to the new environment. Other factors that affect the effect of cross cultural training are a lack of the right information and quality training. This is to suggest that some of the CCT programs may prove to be having a poor orientation and may lack the right skills. Owing to the fact that not every institution has the ability to pay for the best training, then it becomes so hard to measure the effect it to the expatriate adjustment (Vance, Vance & Paik 2006). Issues like ones own culture may limit the effect that cross cultural training may have on the expatriate adjustment. Regardless of what has been said over time in relation to cross cultural training, factors of when it is delivered, how it is delivered and the scope of what has been delivered remain to be chief determinants of what effect the CCT program may have on the expatriate adjustment.
From the above discussion, there are some of the issues that have come out very clearly. For instance, the benefits of cross cultural training have been looked at in length. Subsequently, it has been revealed that the past literatures have shown that CCT is a prerequisite and in actual sense it leads to accelerated expatriate adjustment to the host country. It has also been revealed that CCT prepares the expatriate for both opportunities and changes available in the country of assignment. As such, this enables the expatriate to negate to the new country with such a confidence and preparedness that leads to quick adjustment. Since the CCT provides the basic knowledge of the issues of transportation, working hours, the availability of food, safety or security concerns and the climate concerns as well.
Beyond this point, CCT provides the knowledge of the culture or cultures involved on how to recognize and appreciate them by integrating in the culture without losing ones identity. As such a acknowledge, has produced good results on the side of the facilitating the expatriate adjustment. Benefits of CCT are diverse and numerous and as a result, CCT programmes are worth for investing in as they translate to high job performance in the foreign country. From the above reviews however, there are challenges that face the CCT on Expatriate adjustment. To some, they have not yet realized the benefits of having a CCT before departure and from this point, CCT may be disadvantaged.
Others have limited financing capability to have a CCT on the expatriates and therefore this gives them hard time to adjust to the new environment. From another point of view, others are ignorant and applying CCT program is viewed as a luxury that is not mandatory. Nonetheless, research findings have revealed that expatriates who had a CCT prior to departure has easy time to adjust psychologically, socioculturally and adjustment to work. On the other hand, those that did not attend any CCT program experienced difficulties in adjusting to the host country. In relation to this, their job performance was rated as low with small turnover.
From a general point of view on both benefits and drawbacks of Cross Cultural Training on Expatriate Adjustment, it is evident that CCT is important. This is because of the advantages that come along with it. However, a few limitations or rather drawbacks of Cross Cultural Training on Expatriate Adjustment have been revealed. They incorporate issues to do with personal attributes to personal qualifications. They also involve the time when the CCT is applied and the scope of it. Again, the cost of acquiring CCT has limited it among other such like factors. In spite of both competing sides on the issue at hand, it remains to be a viable ground for catalyzing expatriate adjustment.
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