Culture And Training And Development Management Essay

Culture is a group, which shapes a persons values and identity. A single term used to define a particular culture is often exclusive. Cultural identities can stem from the following differences: race, ethnicity, gender, class, religion, country of origin, and geographic region. Culture is the “lens” through which you view the world. It is central to what you see, how you make sense of what you see, and how you express yourself.

It is recognized by all multinational companies that global human resource management is critical for success in today’s competitive world. The reasons for this are many including their integral involvement in facilitating the success of expatriate assignments (Bonache and Fernandez, 1999; Scullion, 1999; Stroh and Caligiuri, 1998). The picture comparing to 1990’s have changed radically, rapid globalization of companies has brought the need for effective international assignments and relatively increased need of expatriates. There are three major factors that effect this change; first is the changing nature of international companies with joint ventures with global companies and emergence of small and medium size companies as the key industry players. Secondly the change in host locations decreases the number of expatriates that are ready to move with various concerns. Thirdly, the changing nature of international assignment themselves (Bartlett and Ghoshal, 1989)

Success and failure of a global assignment is greatly influenced by an expatriates cross cultural adjustment to the host country. For instance cross cultural adjustment is positively related to performance on the employee’s assignment and negatively related to premature termination of the assignment (Black, 1988; Caligiuri, 1997). There are many companies in this modern and developed technology world that prefer to train the employees prior to assign them an international work. According to Ashamalla (1997) for more than twenty years cross-cultural training had been advocated as a means of facilitating effective cross-cultural interactions and adjustments.

Training can be defined as an intervention that is aimed to increase the knowledge and skills of individuals, so as to help them perform better and professionally. There are many types of training practices in today’s world; the type of practice in a company depends on the kind of industry and technological needs of the company. Out of many methods the most crucial and important training is intercultural training process (Kealey, D. J, Protheroe, D, 1995)

The development of effective international strategies is termed as the major determinant of success of an international business. A research on expatriate management by Harvey (1998) indicates that, any kind of underperformance of an international assignee could be extremely costly for employees in career terms. It is also suggested that companies with global operations need implement sophisticated policies while pre move in certain areas like selection procedures for international assignments and cross-cultural training for both employees and their dependents. Failure in pay enough attention to either of the areas could lead to failure in the expatriation. Training in cross-cultural context can be defined as a procedure that is intended to improve individual’s ability to cope up and adjust in a foreign environment (Baliga and Baker, 1985). The reasons given by many companies for not providing proper cross-cultural training to their employees before international move or provide the study on a selective basis is lack of proven effectiveness.

Course design using the learning diamond [online image]

Tung (1982) has classified the training programs in cross-cultural contexts into six categories that include:

Training on factual information about geography, climate, schools etc.

Cultural orientation training i.e. information about cultural institutions and country values

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Cultural assimilation training, with brief episodes of intercultural encounters

Language training

Sensitivity training

Training for managing emotional stress of living and working with people from different cultures.

Another essential element to be considered for a cross-cultural training as a process is to understand the regulated steps to be followed in making the process successful.

Objectives of training- “Why Train?”

A well planned and tailored goal & needs are needed for companies to analyze before setting up the training process (Ronen, 1990; Rhinesmith, 1993). Cross-cultural training should be designed ensuring that the performance, adjustment and development areas are covered. Many training programs these days are primarily focusing on the adjustment factor, that is, any employee with lot of patience and has lot of adjustment nature is considered as qualified for the international move. But adjustment does not necessarily ensure that they adapt to the culture and perform according to the business objectives. Organization need to draw dimensions that require employees to develop trust relationships with people of different backgrounds and values, their ability to communicate well, collaborative approach, ability to negotiate and cultural competence play a key role in setting task objectives (Gerrity, 1993). In the need of success and to avoid failure cross-cultural program objectives should be crafted to help assignees to (1) manage change-personal-professional transition (2) Manage the cultural differences; and (3) Manage their professional responsibilities (Marquardt & Engel, 1993).

Managing change includes the ability of the assignee in being flexible and adjustments towards culture. The impact of the change on the employee, family and friends includes creation of a personal and professional action plan to manage change. The plan also adds to make the employee aware that repatriation plan is also a part of managing his/her assignment.

Managing the cultural differences includes; understanding of culture, shapes of culture, expectations and assumptions, understanding and applying frameworks basing on the cultural interactions and develop skills to reconcile differences, gaining practical information about host country are the important aspects in managing cultural differences

Managing professional responsibilities include; applying information and insights required in the program to accomplish the objectives, understanding business objectives and job responsibilities in the host country, & adapting the individual style and effective local approach.

Trainees-“Who should be trained?”

For any international assignment is very important for the family of the assignee should be trained along with the assignee as a supportive family atmosphere plays a very important role in a successful international assignment. The spouse of the assignee more certainly faces lot of challenges in the host county while the employee usually sustains himself with the routine job functions. The challenges involves in setting up households, negotiation with local shops, transportation, services etc with an unfamiliar language which are basing on the confidence levels of the partner. Duel career issue makes the situation more critical when faced with displacement and uncertainty; the partner may feel ambivalent about the changes and the chances of getting worried to find employment, or acceptable substitutes for employment, in the very likely event that work will not be available abroad. Children’s education and social adaption also effect the family’s ability to adjust in the host country (Pascoe, 1992, Osland, 1995). All the above needs of the family to understand the culture makes it important to undergo training prior to the assignment.

Program components-Cross-Cultural training programs

There are many major key elements to make a successful training program at a cross-cultural context that includes assessment of basic needs, content, design and methodology, duration and timing, trainers and quality of end result.

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A through need of the employee, spouse, children and HR liaison is suggested requirement for a company to conclude on the training needs (Brislin & Yoshida, 1994). It is also required to assess the assignees past international experience, job role and responsibilities, family dynamics, special interests etc. to make the training objective more clearly in both verbal and written forms.

The content of the program should include general awareness, planning of placement, transition and stress management, life style adjustment, repatriation process (Kohls & Brussow, 1995)

A deductive approach to cross cultural training method is preferred as the information can be applier more logically and reasonably to specific situations, whereas with an inductive approach, generalizations made from specific information may be invalid, and lead to inappropriate choices and behaviors on the part of the assignees (Andersen, 1985). A variety of methods can be used to train the assignees and family basing on the needs of assessment like role plays, case studies, presentations, filed work, lectures etc.

Immersion approach

Assessment centre

Field Experiments

Simulations

Sensitivity training

Extensive language training

Affective approach

Culture assimilator training

Role playing

Critical incidents

Cases

Stress reducing training

Moderate language training

Information-giving approach

Area briefing

Cultural briefings

Films/books/videos

Use of interpreters

Survival-level language training

Low

Moderate

High

Length 1 month 2-12 1-3

of stay or less months years

High

Level

of

rigor

Low

Length of training

1-2 months+

1-4 weeks

Less than a week

Training can be provided prior to departure or after the arrival in the destination or both depending on the necessity. Pre departure training allows the family to have a realistic knowledge about the host country with basic understanding of culture and ethics. Post arrival training allows the family to clarify internal, geographical & social queries. HR can reduce the possibility of expatriates’ failures by ‘flying out the employee and family over to location to check out if they would like to stay’. Based on the duration of the assignment HR can put up various training schedules based on the tenure of the assignment as shown in figure below, by

Mendenhall, E. Dunbar, and G. Oddou, (1987)

Studies indicate that the essential components of pre-departure training programs that contribute to a smooth transition to a foreign location include cultural awareness training, preliminary visits, language instruction and assistance with practical day-to-day matters.

Trainers and training team include specialists and are experts to develop and deliver a program. The trainer act as the coach, educator, facilitator, counselor, moderator, and cultural

role model for the participants.

Quality assurance include results and outcomes of the program that include program evaluations, written documentation of results and liaison meeting between employees and trainers to justify the report.

Many leading firms recognized that while there existing numbers of good training firms and many excellent training consultants to choose from, it is important to investigate carefully these credentials and capabilities. If the process is competently managed and executed well developed, training will become a key intervention in promoting success to the assignment and increase the return on investment for employees, family members and companies abroad.

Training Measurement

One of the key important elements of providing an effective learning is the ability to identify the training participants have changed their behavior according to the prescribed course objectives and as a continuation weather they will be able to transfer their behavior to the work environment (Hilary H and Savita K, 2000).

A well designed training initiative may enhance the learning process of international assignee and thus facilitate cross-cultural interactions and cross-cultural adjustment (Black & Gregersen, 1991; Caligiuri, Phillips, Lazarova, Tarique, & Burgi, 2001). To understand a systematic approach in designing cross-cultural training initiatives Tarique and Caligiuri (2003) propose a five-phase process as a general strategy to follow in designing effective cross-cultural training initiatives. The five phases are:

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Understanding and identifying the type of global assignment for which the training is needed?

Determining the cross-cultural training needs from the view of organization, assignment and individual

Establishing the training needs basing on the goals and objectives of the organization.

Finalizing the training program &

Ultimate effectiveness of the cross-cultural training program and results.

Gudykunst, et al., (1996) proposes that future research on these phases is the important area of investigation when performing a training program. A better understanding on the limits and generalizability across organizational cultural, national and individual context for cross-cultural training is also an important area. The strength of the discussion tightens when the individuals high on openness to global experience, extroversion and agreeableness and early international travel experience adds value for more effective training and development comparing to individuals that are less on these traits. According to the recent review of cross-cultural training evaluation studies Mendenhall et al, (2004) stated that “Cross-cultural training seems to be effective in enhancing knowledge and trainee satisfaction but seems to be less effective in changing behaviors and attitudes, or in improving adjustment and performance”.

Conclusion

When going for an overseas assignment there are various considerations to be made. Often seen is that the expatriate receives the training but not the spouse and family. It has to be understood that spouse and family are the major contributors for the assignment success. Some companies do not impart cross culture training for the spouse and family as they think its an added cost and not essential. This is a wrong thinking. Cross-cultural training provides incoming and outgoing expatriate families a chance to study up on what is coming, and how best to approach the new reality. One of the reasons for the expatriate assignment failure is that the family and spouse cannot cope with the new environment. This coping up of the new environment occurs when there is no cross culture training given. From the above scenarios it can be seen or concluded that cross culture training is important for the spouse and family and it leads to the expatriate assignment a success in any part of the world. To sum up Cross Culture Training has to be imparted to the spouse and family for an overseas assignment.

Companies need to invest more on cross-cultural training especially in terms of the ‘immersion’ and ‘affective’ approaches. The value of providing a comprehensive training program could reduce the failure of assignments or pre-mature assignments.

Cross-cultural training enhanced people’s ability to deal with conflicts that arise within multicultural teams. To ensure success in business, many organizations used cross-cultural training to improve their manager’s cross- cultural effectiveness and enhance their communication skills. From the research it is discovered that crossing cultures is extremely difficult and requires the right kind of training. Cultural diversity in a work group provides both impunities and difficulties. When manages successfully, it brings economic benefits. For organizations that send managers on foreign assignments. The cost can be high, as those managers need to adjust to their new environment. Cross-cultural training is useful and worthy which can deal with conflicts that arise within multicultural.

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