Expatriate Selection Process Of Andrea Weber Management Essay

Expatriates provide a number of benefits for companies, including greater parent control and particular expertise. International experience is also seen as providing opportunities for personal and professional development and career advancement. Expatriates are very expensive, however, and this can discourage extensive use of expatriates. Many companies have also experienced relatively high failure rates, with failure often being attributed to the family’s inability to adapt.

Surprisingly, give the high costs, and likelihood of failure, companies often make these expensive commitments with little or no preparation for the need for cross-cultural transition. Expatriate success and job performance is closely related to intercultural adjustment and the same is true of families.

Expatriate Selection Process of Andrea Weber

Andreas Weber (AW) is a citizen of Germany and the company headquarters is in Germany. AW’s company was in the early stages of a companywide international management program whose primary intention was to develop a pool of young managers with international exposure who would develop in an overseas branch and eventually return to corporate headquarters in senior management positions. The company was aligned to selecting key positions in overseas branches by filling available vacancies by German nationalities which is similar to adopting the Parent Country Nationals (PCN) approach (Phatak 1995:176). This can deemed as appropriate as the company can be regarded as one that was in the early stages of internationalization where a degree of control and coordination was required and could hence only be entrusted to a PCN (Shen and Edwards 2004).

The reason for the assignment was abrupt and not planned though the underlying rationale was that of management development where staff are sent overseas for training and development initiatives. It was also for organizational development where exploitation of global opportunities and transfer of knowledge and need for control exist.

This was necerajssary as an increasing number of organizations enter the global business area, the number and extent of business representatives crossing international borders has surged dramatically (Graf 2004) and was important for AW’s firm to select, develop and retain employees who can live and work effectively outside of their own borders (Caliguri 2000).

In AW case, it seemed more of position filling rather than a specific fulfilling of skill gap, new endeavor or technology transfer. The program was poorly structured with no criteria on selection of candidates and focused on position filling to satisfy its organization strategy of exposing its managers to a global business environment rather than holistically selecting and developing them abroad with a rigorous acclimatization program prior to their departure.

AW though selected for the program was suddenly thrust with an opportunity after a vacancy became available in New York branch. This was not planned and before AW could plan properly and immerse himself in the ongoing acclimatization programs conducted by his company, he was already in New York. It was a rushed process with little consideration allocated to AW family and how they would react let alone insufficient attention on AW and whether he was mentally and culturally prepared to work in a business environment vastly different from his existing one. A sudden vacancy that requires to be filled indicates poor communication between HQ and its branches.

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AW selection seemed one of necessity created by the urgency of the vacant position rather than by methodology. The vacant position was thrust onto AW for which he was overqualified. Regardless AW’s professionalism and the hasty circumstance of his transfer conspired for him to continue with his overseas job. There did not appear to be a formal duration of transfer for AW to acclimatize to his change in environment.

The duration of the program was unclear with no defined timeframe of whether short , extended or long term all of which have significant impact on AW life.

AW role seemed be an agent of control rather than to gain exposure and return .It also seemed his role was to expand his boundary, build networks and engage in transfer of competence and knowledge.

The speed of transfer was too quick and no formal structure of transfer duration in place (two months). There was no proper scope defined. In general, planning was not structured and probably was not deemed important and the interfacing program was not exhaustive and was messy and ad hoc. The pre departure training was hasty, not structured and focused little on integrated culture and family assimilation.

Expatriate Selection Criteria

Recent studies have empirically confirmed that expatriate selection is a multi-faceted subject and that personality characteristics as well as interpersonal skills are very important (Caligiuri 2000; Spreitzer, McCall, & Mahoney 1997).

As a guiding framework, the selection process should include technical competence (Franke and Nicholson 2002), motivation (Welch 2003), previous job experience, managerial talent and independence of mind (Franke and Nicholson 2002), language fluency ( Franke and Nicholson 2002; Graf 2004). It could also include elements of interpersonal skills (Huo et al 2002), personality characteristics (Caliguri 2000; Selmer 2001), family issues (Franke and Nicholson 2002) and previous overseas experience (Franke and Nicholson 2002; Huo et al 2002).

Some of the possible selection process parameters are analyzed below;

Technical Competence

Technical competency is most often used as the selection criteria for expatriates, but that is rarely the best selection technique. Technical skills are important, but not all encompassing. For example, an expatriate is likely to make more progress at the overseas location if he or she has effective managerial skills and administrative competencies. Strong relationships with the host country and headquarters’ operations also make the expatriate’s assignment more productive.

Conflict Resolution

Conflict resolution skills are crucial to the expatriate. Expatriates also require to have a strong belief in the assignment if it is to be a success, and they must believe that the assignment will be advantageous to their careers.

Motivational Skillset

Motivation is likely to be higher if the person has an interest in the specific host country culture as well as in an overseas experience. To be successful the expatriate must be willing to acquire new behavior patterns and attitudes. The most successful expatriates enjoy the challenge of forging their way through new situations and are comfortable networking and initiating new social contacts. These are also critical for the families of expatriates. Training for expatriates and their families is therefore as important as proper selection.

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Relationship & Communication Skillset

To reduce the likelihood of premature termination of the assignment, companies should choose expatriates who have well-developed relationship skills. Some characteristics are crucial for a successful expatriate: tolerance for ambiguity, behavioral flexibility, strong interpersonal skills, and a nonjudgmental disposition. In addition, an effective expatriate would have high cultural empathy. Ethnocentrism is the belief that one’s culture is superior. Ethnocentric expatriates are likely to have problems adjusting to a new culture, and the local people are likely to perceive them negatively. Communication is also key skillset.

The expatriate needs to have some working knowledge of the host language. but it may be more important that the expatriate have outstanding nonverbal communication skills and an understanding that nonverbal communication varies between cultures. He or she should become familiar with common nonverbal protocol in the new culture.

Family Situation

Most expatriates take their families with them to the foreign country, and their family situation is one of the most critical factors in the successful completion of an overseas assignment. Family transition must be taken very seriously. An expatriate must be comfortable on a personal level.

An expatriate’s spouse must have a very strong willingness to live abroad. The spouse must be supportive as well as adaptive. Many firms have had expatriates’ assignments terminated early because the spouse was unwilling or unable to make the necessary adjustments to the host country.

Given that expatriates are very expensive, it is in a firm’s interest to make sure the assignment is successful. Proper expatriate selection and training, as well as attention to the needs of the family can be a productive investment.


The recruitment and selection of expatriate managers will vary quite considerably to that of domestic employees and can incur substantially higher direct and indirect costs (Selmer 2001; Franke and Nicholson 2002). Unfortunately, many expatriates either return prematurely or perform poorly (Selmer 2001).

Admitting to failure is an extreme term, though perhaps acknowledging that internal recruitment has vacancies that have attracted applications from staff that are clearly not qualified or unsuitable for the position, even though they may be otherwise thought of as valued employees, might be construed as a form of failure. Internal recruitment has also not achieved the firms strategic objectives as it might possibly have reinforced existing negative corporate culture and stagnation of ideas for innovation and business growth. In addition, a highly ‘political’ corporate atmosphere prevails as employees seek to please their superiors to gain promotion rather than seek to improve business performance. Thus when such personnel get promoted, the management of this ‘fall out’ and the effort to sustain the staff morale has not been carefully managed by the firm and hence it has decided that it will utilize external recruitment frequently.

In such circumstances it can be deemed that a firm utilizing external recruitment constantly is admitting to failure.

Utilizing external recruitment has several risks, namely the new appointment might take longer than expected to assimilate into a new corporate culture especially if it’s in management positions. The appointment may also affect the morale of internal staff that has been overlooked which is likely to impede the new appointment from accessing the internal network, which is crucial for effective assimilation. If the new appointment is not explained clearly to existing staff, resentment might grow towards the appointment and probably create barriers that makes the discharge of duties hard. To avoid resentment among existing staff, the organization must be clear and consistent in communicating the corporate recruitment policy as it relates to sourcing suitable staff.

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Thus external recruitment already possess considerable risks of failure if the new appointment is a local and can be construed as a significant gamble by the organization to inject fresh ideas, skills and knowledge or to function as an agent of change or as in impetus for internal staff to upgrade themselves and be more competitive and value add.

These risks are further accentuated if the new hire is an expatriate and a bigger gamble for the firm. For instance the expatriate’s’ wage profile is expected to be significantly higher than existing internal staff, and hence the cost of this new hire’s failure is higher to the firm.

As opposed to existing internal staff, the expatriates housing and family situation are considerably significant impacts to his performance. If the family is not situated in the new country properly, with sufficient attention extended by the firm towards the family and to ensure their comfort and to provide support, it’s very likely that his performance will be negatively affected. In a managerial position this can have serious repercussions to an expatriate’s decision making capability and hence impacts the firm. Overlooked staff also represents an expatriate as they are likely to ostracize him from their organizational networks which are crucial for the expatriate to assimilate and execute his functions effectively.

An important point to consider with respect to the size of the gamble is that the expatriate remains very much an unknown character when recruited by external recruitment apart from interviews. Hence there must be implicit trust from the firm to the external recruitment agency in selecting the right person who is a strategic fit with the company. In addition, the interviews must be conducted in a manner to elicit as much information from the candidate in terms of his ability to settle in a foreign country and culture, placed in a new corporate culture and coupled with his family having to be uprooted and having to adjust accordingly to their new environment.

Moreover the information on the expatriate is highly depended on the external recruitment agency’s detailed profiling. His personal and professional attitudes and characteristics and his dependence on his family and his international experience are also attributes that that the firm might not be fully aware of and might not be fully prepared or lack the necessary skillsets and resources to assimilate the expat into the corporate culture as well as provide the necessary support and framework for his family so that he is able to focus on discharging his work responsibilities.

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