The Challenges Of The Expatriation Failures Commerce Essay

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In many cases we come across situations where the expatriation fails. There can be a number of reasons for this. One of the reasons being varying estimates. According to GMAC the primary reasons for the expatriation failures are partner dissatisfaction, the inability to adjust to the host environment, concerns of family and the poor selection of the candidates. According to a recent survey U.S., U.K., china and Japan have the highest rate of assignment failure. Such failures bring significant costs to both the company and the expatriate which are visible as well as invisible.

As it is clear that the failure of expatriates cost the companies, So alternatives to that can be sort for. As per Briscoe and Schuler, 2004 there can be a lot of alternatives to the theory of expatriation. The main in these is the domestic internationalists. the other is the international commuters. Short term foreign postings can be an effective alternative as it does not require the expatriate to be away from his home and family for long and he can perform better. Other alternatives that are co related are long term assignees and permanent transfer.

As it is clear that the organisation has to deal with expatriation failures. So it has to look for other methods for maximum benefits. But with every method comes disadvantages as well along with its advantages.

One such alternative is localisation.


Localisation means to appoint staff of the country where the branch or franchasee of the company is set to function .In this the maximum number of workers are from that country itself and very few from other ones. Thus in a way we can say that the company functions as a locl company of that nation. In this method there are a number of advantages. The primary is the removal of risks associated with expatriation. It also motivates the indegnious managers. The MNC can draw upon the local knowledge. Through ‘inpatriation’ the local and international experience/ knowledge may be combined by the local managers.

With these advantages there are some disadvantages as well associated with localization.Lets have a look at them. In localisation the control or the co ordination function of the MNC may be forfeited. It leads to the reduction in the opportunities for the international managers. If local managers are required then they need to be trained as per the requirements. Most importantly there will be an absence of new ideas.

On the other hand the organization or the MNC can opt for the International diversity in the recruitment of its staff which also has some advantages with disadvantages. According to Hodgetts and Luthans, 2003, the primary problems associated with this would be mistrust among workers and stereotyping. The other problems that draw attention are that there will be an inaccurate communication among workers and there will be different use of the time.

But still there are plus points associated with this. The most important would be the creativity and innovation which has fewer chances in localisation. It would also avoid the group thinking and would help in coming up with new ideas and methods.

Expatriate adjustment

This brings us to a very important concept which is the adjustments that the HR managers need to keep in mind and undertake when asking workers to work in some other nation other than the home nation. If this thing is carefully handled a lot of problems can be solved that would result in maximum benefits for the corporation.

As per the Black, Mendenhall and Oddou model,1991 for the expatriate adjustments there are certain anticipatory factors to be kept in mind by the HR managers. These can be broadly divided into two categories viz. on the individual and organizational level. On the individual level these would be the training of the workers, their previous experiences which includes experiences in foreign nations and the expectations of the individuals. On the other hand on the organisational level these factors would be the selection mechanisms and the criteria for the expatriates.

When an expatriate works in other country things might not go as planned. So for the better performance by the workers and healthy work relation certain factors have to be kept in mind. For the individual working in another country self efficiency, relational skills and his perceptional skills are very important. So that he can keep a good relation with other workers and neglect the different conditions by focusing on his work only.

On the job front the HR manager must clarify the job of a worker which should be discrete. Along with these two more things to be kept in mind are role novelty and role conflict.

It is expected of the HR manager to bring out certain adjustments in the organization when things are not working properly. First propriety among such matters is held by work adjustments which require adjusting the work distribution among workers. Also if two or more workers are not able to work with each other or communicate properly the HR manager must initiate. Such types of adjustments are termed as interaction adjustments. Other than these there can be also certain other adjustments to be made which come under the general adjustments category.

De Cieri et. al., 1991 gives us an insight into the subjective adjustment experience. According to this there are four phases in the work experience of an expatriate. All these phases describe the mindset of the expatriate and steps required for his better performance. First phase is the tourist phase in which the beginning of his period in the foreign land is considered. His small mistakes are neglected and time is given to adjust himself to the changed environment. But often the expatriate fails to do so and is culturally shocked which might lead to a crisis. This second phase is described under the crisis and culture shock phase. To make and set things right the HR manager takes some steps to make the expatriate perform better. This is the third phase and is termed as the Pulling up phase. If things are still not right than the HR manager makes some adjustments which are for the benefit of both the expatriate and the organisation. This is the fourth and the final phase and is called adjustment phase. The adjustment phase has already been discussed above.

‘best practice’ recruitment criteria

Now we come to a very important point that when it is known that problems might occur then why not take measures in advance which can control such things. The best way to find a solution for such problems is paying attention to certain things at the time of recruitment.

Job Suitability:

First thing to be kept in mind is that whether the job suits the candidate or whether he is the right candidate for the job. The technical expertise of the potential expatriate and the ability of him or her to perform the requirements of the job should be checked.

Adaptability to culture:

It should be seen whether the candidate is adjustable cultural change. It should be checked whether he or she can adjust to the changed and new job environment along with the deliverance of technical and managerial expertise.

Desire for foreign assignment:

It should be checked whether the potential candidate desires to work in a foreign country. Whether he or she is willing to adjust to the changed work culture and environment. Also the willingness of his family must be considered.

Profiles of successful assignees

When sending expatriates the preference can be given to candidates who have already served as expatriate workers before. Also things to be kept in mind when going through the profiles of assignees are his or her experience, education , interests, flexibility to work conditions along with family situation and desire for assignment in foreign country.

The success depends on some factors which are loosely based upon the best recruitment criteria. According to Tung (1981) the success factors of the expatriate are his or her technical ability to work in new conditions and environment. One thing that is very important is the social skills and the relational abilities of the expatriate. These factors can depict whether a candidate can work in foreign environment and with new people. The success factor depends upon the ability of the candidate to deal with certain environment constraints such as the government and the labour issues which are not the same in every country. Situation of the family also contributes to the success of the candidate. If the family is supportive he can perform much better.

Possible recruitment methods

To avoid the problems associated with expatriates the solution can be found out in the very first step that is the techniques used for the recruitment of candidates. The very important step in this process can be the interview where the HR manager can decide whether the candidate can be used as a expatriate. Next method is the formal assessment. One method can be the committee decision .One is the career planning .Another is the self selection. One is the Internal job posting and individual bid. Recommendations and Assessment centres.

According to Harris and Brewster (1991) in the recruitment method the water cooler and coffee machine approaches are widespread.

According to Harris,(2004) for the successful execution of the expatriates and their work , one thing to be kept in mind by the HR manager is to avoid discrimination in the selection of the expatriates. While sending expatriates and to monitor their work in a foreign country , the primary objective of the Hr must be the better performance of the works and maximising the benefits of the organisation.

For this the assignment must be planned in a strategic fashion. Also for the selection criteria a sophisticated approach is required which can solve a lot of problems in the very first step. The HR manager must monitor the selection process and the workers should go through career development systems. There should be flexible benefit packages for the workers. The attempts must be made to maximise the profits in international assignments and only those candidates must be expatriated who are best suitable for the job in this sense.

So far we have discussed what steps must be taken by the HR manager and what should be in his approach while selecting candidates as expatriates. Now the next point which needs attention is the next step after the selection. The next step is the training of the candidates.

Training and development of expatriates-

There should be training about the job both prior to leaving for the foreign country and as well as on arrival in the host country. Training in cross-cultural proficiency should accompany move job specific, technically orientated material. In the training the needs of the spouse shoulb also be considered for the better performance of the candidate. One thing that would prove to be beneficial for the candidate working in foreign country is learning the language of the country.

According to Mendenhall and Oddou (1986) a contingency approach to expatriation can be found. In these there are three different categories. These are the lowest, medium and the highest level of rigour. In the lowest level of rigour just giving the information is required. It is very humble approach. Next is the medium level of rigour which advocates the affective approach. The highest level of rigour is the immersion approach.

Now we have seen the things to be kept in mind by the HR manager while selecting expatriates and what should be the next step after the selection. Now we move our focus to the next very important point which is the things to be taught to the expatriates in the training provided to them.

Briscoe and Schuler (2004) have given an insight into this matter and what shoulb be topic to be taught to the expatriates in the training.