Last updated: July 18, 2019
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Expatriation is the process of moving staff from the parent company or headquarters to foreign subsidiaries while staying in the employment of the same firm. Expatriates are referred to by global firms as their ‘international Assignees’ the roles of expatriate are: direct control the agent in the foreign location; agent of socialization; build network between the expatriate home location with foreign location; boundary spanner and translate both location’s language in order to promote communication. So expatriation plays a vital role for multinational corporations, as they need to build global relationships.

There are three main reasons for transferring staff on international assignments. They are position filling; management development and organization development. Nowadays, as the globalization has brought about the need for more expatriate assignments, result in international organizations facing challenges in implementing an effective expatriation strategy. In this article, author will go though talk about: Recruitment & selection of expatriates and expatriate failure. These two topics one by one, sequentially to discuss and analysis what are the challenges for global firms to execute an effective expatriation strategy.

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The objectives of this article is through discuss and analyse ‘the challenges facing international organizations in implementing an effective expatriation strategy’ this topic to evaluate the impact of international changes and trends in the environment, competition and the dynamics of the labour force on HRM in international organizations; review global practices in compensation, benefits and reward systems and assess the impact of global practice on organizations operating internationally; examine the factors affecting expatriate managers and employees.

Demonstrate and advanced understanding of the importance of professional practice in managing a culturally diverse workforce in an international environment. Selection of expatriates A lot of international organizations realize that it necessary to operate on a global level to maintain a competitive advantage (Cascio, 2003). There are 80% of large and midsize organizations have staff working in another country, and 45% anticipate increasing their expatriate workforce in the future.

Roughly 10% to 20% of employees sent on expatriate assignments return early, also in these assignments, about a third of these employees who remain did not perform up to their manager’s expectations. Two of these situations are extremely cost huge money for the company (Black and Gregersen, 1999). It has been proposed that utilization of selection methods is one challenge for the expatriate (Harvey. 1996). Much research has been carried out on the factors challenged in expatriate selection, both in terms of the individual and the specifics of the situation concerned. The individual

In terms of the individual, several challenges have been identified that to achieve the success of international assignments and guide selection should be used, these include: technical ability; cross-cultural suitability and family requirements. Technical abilities are significant to perform the job, because individual is located away from headquarters and cannot readily consult on technical issues related to the task. So for the individual, they must be able to adapt to the new and foreign surroundings while effectively transfer their technical and managerial expertise.

They have to rapidly accept their new culture environment, if not they may be unable to perform their work activities proficiently (Ones & Viswesvaran, 1997), or they might finish the task early. For example, if an expatriate which does not adjust to interacting with host nationals may not be able to gain the information need to implementing effectively (Black and Gregersen, 1998). And the technical expertise is important, the principle challenge faced by most expatriates rest with the incapability of the manager and their family to adapt to the alien culture. Cross-cultural suitability is about expatriates requiring nable the person to operate in a new surroundings. The host country nationals need to be involved in the process, because they are not considered as a target for intercultural training. Intercultural competence is a challenge to assess in a potential candidate, for the consideration of candidates must be given to: individual’s personality; attitude to foreigners and the ability to live & work with people of different culture. The international organization should carry out cross-cultural training programmes to the individual’s situation. The core of the problem connects to the suitability of expatriates to attempt abroad assignments.

Expatriate selection procedures would make sure traits in expatriates that are bound to cause some type of problem in later years. Especially, the expatriate’s attitudes of ethnocentric have been found to be dysfunctional of mutual relationships between host country workforce and expatriates. An expert suggested that stereotyping may lead to over-generalizations about host country nationals and have negative effects (Caligiuriet al, 2001). Family situation is increasing awareness of the significant of the role of the family to make sure effective performance oversea.

An expatriate’s family really is the ultimate part to the people work oversea. Relatives, neighbors, friends, all of these who surround a person or a family with support and a community of relationships are all left behind, when the family or a person works abroad. So when all of these supports are absent, the challenge would be extreme serious dysfunction to the expatriate. From these we can see the ability of the expatriate’s family to adjust to living in a foreign surrounding is crucial to the success of the assignment.

For the dual career couples, if the husband sent to work at a foreign country and his wife goes with him live at that country. In most situations, it means this wife needs to give up her own ambitions and attend to her family’s most basic needs. Her husband is spending his days at office; this wife responsibility requires her to have directed contact and immediate with the new environment. Unlike maybe her husband has a secretary to translate this country’s language, but she has no one to translate for her or to serve as an intermediary.

And also she won’t enjoy the welfare of the host country. Children care is another challenge for expatriate, as people decide to work and live oversea, it is really true for expats which take their children with them, as they move from one place to another. They would not be the only ones who have to adapt to a foreign country, their children also will have the same situation, and children of expatriates find themselves in a new environment where their same age people consider them strange, because of their ethnicity.

Especially for the children who has already have friendship in their own country, but is difficult to making new friends in the new environment. This situation may also cause of experiencing difficulties such like they wound have problem with a new educational system. Lots of expatriate children do badly in their first year at school in a new country. The new country’s weather would be another problem to the children, it is important to remember that adults may adapt cultural and ethnic easier, but kids may find it harder to do.

Parents sometimes forget kid is kid, they have different emotional responses and needs, this is why it is important for an expat parents to pay more attention to how their children are adapting. The specifics of the situation Factors connecting to the specifics of the situation are inter-related with those concerning the individual and include: country requirements; multinational corporation requirements and language, these three aspects. Country requirements, when multinational corporation want to send staff to another country, they need to be aware the legislation of host government regarding the employment.

Let take visa as an example, visa is a big challenge for expatriation. In European, EU social charter allows for free movement of citizens of member countries, but for people from EU to Asia, work visas are difficult to get, no matter which country the companies want to send. First the expatriate need a job offer and the employer needs to prove to host local authorities that this worker is the best for the job. After the worker’s employment has been approved by the host local authorities, then he can proceed to apply for a work permit at the respective consulate in his home country.

Language may be considered critically challenge for some expatriate positions. Communication is significant to management, but communication depends on a common language, a condition seldom existing in many international organization settings, that could be the origin of many challenges (Feely & Harzing, 2002). This is particularly when mutually incomprehensible languages meet to create a formidable language barrier, let use an example of many Western companies expatriates in China.

Although in China, the standard of English proficiency is rising, but use English in conversations with Chinese may still difficult due to a lack of much common vocabulary. Even talk with relatively fluent speakers, the interaction could be deceptive, as it may obscure cultural differences. Even a business conversation may conduct in a second language: English, attendee certainly think in their own language and according to their own cultural norms, which may not be fully understand.

So for communication, especially business communication may be every single word is important for the contract or deal. So depend on the different situation, the expatriates need have basic that host country’s language communication skills, some argument about the knowledge of host country’s language is an important element of expatriate performance regardless of the level of the position. There are 14 Histon hotels in China, 13 of these hotels general managers are expatriated by head office; only fourteenth newly opened one is a Chinese general manager.

The reason why they started use Chinese to be manager is the president of Histon said: only Chinese really know what are Chinese people need and want, and only Chinese can tell all the Histon hotels in the world, when they servicing Chinese people, what is the best service for Chinese guests (Chris, 2009). Relating to selection of expatriation, the reason for him to say this, in the other 13 Histon Hotels, there is almost no receive of government conference, because Chinese people like smoking during the conference, but Histon hotels don’ t allow guests smoking at public and banqueting hall, even don’t prepare ashtrays.

One of a Germany general manager even disputed with guests. From this we can see, although Histon is a very famous hotel in the world, this manager wants to keep the basic standard of this hotel, but he is working in China, he should know how to community with Chinese guests and learn the way in China how to solve problems. And another reason for government conferences don’t like stay in Histon hotel is tiny things, one is about the inside decoration.

Histon more prefer cool colour, but Chinese people in conferences more prefer warm colour room. Another reason is Histon hotels only offer fruits basket, don’t skinning fruits, because they are afraid after skinning fruits would get oxidate, but Chinese guests think, they just want the fruits on plate can direct eat. These are the problems of the management and strategies made by the expatriates from head office, they should be trained how to go along with that host country’s culture and habits. Expatriate failure

Expatriate failure usually defined as the premature return of an expatriate from a termination of the assignment or international assignment, and the inability of the expatriate to implement according to the expectations of the organization. The costs of failure have been evaluated by many means with widely varying results. It is clear that a failed assignment in abroad location is extremely expensive than assignment occurring near to home. There are some chief challenge factors resulting in a failed expatriate assignment. Family Stress Most of expatriate are exited and challenged to be in the new posting.

Before they adapt to the new culture, they need to spend lots of time at work since they are under pressure and they have experienced before are less than their overall responsibilities. Therefore, the wives of them use a lot of time by themselves, also these wives are cut-off from their own friends and relatives. At one time, there are some new problems they need to dealing with without any previous experience. For example, a maid stealing may caught by her or policeman may stop her asks a payoff for a non-existent offence; she might have been noticed that internet connectivity is in use but she gets install after six months.

All of these tiny things would make her discover that suitable employment seriously damaging her own life career. Anyway, these situations are generally the partner who suffers the greatest culture shock in the foreign country. The result may be an unhappy couple who does her best to tamper the expatriate manager’s performance. Total marriage breakdown is not an uncommon result. There is an unofficial numbers from the Asian Development Bank are that upwards of 60 present of their expatriate marriages fail due to the stress of offshore postings.

As a result the expatriate manager’s performance is impaired or many expatriate postings are early terminated. Cultural inflexibility It is common for inexperienced expatriates to be taken completely by surprise at the deep cultural difference in their posted country. For example, the expatriate would find tat, after a seemingly open conversation about improvement to be made, after two days the local manager who has report to him but doesn’t show up. And in meetings, his local staff thinks it is ok to spend hours talking until the possible issue is agreed to by everyone.

So the expatriate needs to learn how to adapt these work concepts in Asia. He also needs to understand that transforming his new staff into Europeans or Americans has been tried thousand times and it doesn’t work. All expatriates maneuver a narrow path between aspiring to international standards on one side and accepting local conventions on the other. If the expatriates could understand and adapt these challenges, they would cause an expatriate failure. Emotional immaturity In expatriate’s home country, most of them are middle-managers with relatively secondary lives.

When they relocated to for example Asia, they are suddenly thrust into the national spotlight as the country manager of a international company. More people reporting to them and often have more control over them. For the personal life, for the first time they may have household servants, and have opportunities to meet senior government officials, these all made them feel he is getting more important. Further, the expatriate may be attracting enthusiastic attention of certain local females looking for their own kind of reputation and fortune by landing a igh-status foreign husband or boyfriend. The combination of greatly expanded responsibility and social status can be difficult to handle for a person who is lacking the emotional maturity to destroy their career or marriages by ignoring responsibilities and succumbing to temptations. Responsibility Overload In most cases, the new company may be larger than the expatriate is used to oversee. This is particularly true when they posted in an emerging country, he might manage five to ten times more staff than ever before.

For example, a German hotel manager who supervises 20 staff in his home country could have 100 in Malaysia. An American call center manager with fifty people in the US can find himself overseeing five hundred in Philippines. Large increases in responsibility are difficult for everyone to handle. So the new challenges of managing expectations of clients and head office managers in other countries may not understand the cultural differences that are impact in the results.

Physical Breakdown. Expatriates are always motivated to succeed and excited about getting international experience. So they often work long hours and hardworking for their posting, and try get the work to be successful. But with the different culture, many things are not same with their own country, most of them just not usage for it, So combine with emotional despondency and physical exhaustion plus elevated stress levels are a common problem for new expatriates. Unless they can get alleviated, otherwise it can reduce effectiveness or work-interrupting illness for the managers.

Conclusion. In this article, author talked about the challenges facing international organizations in implementing an effective expatriation strategy. Author started with two topics which are: selection of expatriates and expatriate failure, analyze in depth of each topic involved details to discuss and analyses what are the challenges for expatriate. At the first part of the main body, author started to talk the selection of expatriate and give the numbers of rate of how many people posted to work at other countries by multination companies and also the percentages of some expatriates sent back to own country early.

Selection expatriate include two contents one is individual and the specifics of the situation, author talked these to contents in details to discuss the challenges for expatriate, and after this an example of Histon Hotels in China has been used by author to support the discussion. At the second part of the main body author talked about expatriate failure, from five common factors which are; family stress; cultural inflexibility; emotional immaturity; responsibility overload and physical breakdown, to discuss and analyze the challenges for expatriate.

Also gave some small examples in each discussion paragraphs. The objectives of this article is from author own points of view, go through talk about expatriate challenges, thereby to achieve the learning outcomes of the issues to be considered when selecting and managing an international body of employees; the factors affecting expatriate managers and employees and appraise existing global training and appraisal systems for a cross-cultural workforce, international human resource management this subject, from these to get close knowledge about international human resource management this subject.


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