Term paper on Challenges faced by managers of multicultural workforces and recommendations for management training

Cross-cultural aspects of recruitment, selection and adaptation of staff. Welch (1994) identifies the following types of international policies of recruitment and selection of staff in multinational companies:
• ethnocentric policy: filling key positions in offices around the world only by personnel from the country of the parent company;
• polycentric, or region-centric policy: using locals to manage the foreign representatives, and managers from the country of the parent company as the top managers of the company’s headquarters;
• geocentric policy: recruiting the best and developing the staff for key positions in any multinational system regardless of nationality.

In different countries, the preferences in recruitment vary. American and European multinational companies (MNCs) usually use more local managers and fewer expatriates in their foreign affiliates than Japanese MNCs (Chew & Horwitz, 2004). Investigating recruitment in a number of countries (Africa, Canada, Eastern Europe, the USA, Western Europe), Tung (1987) found that Japanese MNCs basically fill top management positions by the Japanese. This can be explained by cultural factors. As a rule, a Japanese manager tries to avoid uncertainty more often than an American or Western European, and by assigning to a responsible position the Japanese employee who he trusts more and has a common native language with, he reduces the possible risks (Tung, 1987; Moran et al., 2007).

In general, the problem of choosing a local manager or an expatriate to lead the branch should be solved depending on several factors – the requirements to a uniform standardization of products, local market knowledge, etc.

Cross-cultural training of managers

It’s now often happening in the practice of international business that the involvement of a specialist for managing multicultural workforces may be unsuccessful, not only because of an incorrect assessment of his/her qualifications or experience; an important role here is played by the process of cultural adaptation.

Thus, Tung (1987) ranked the causes of failure of expatriate managers from MNCs in the following way:
• inability of a manager or manager’s spouse to adapt to the given physical or cultural environment;
• other family problems;
• personal immaturity of a manager;
• failure to cooperate with the officials from the central office;custom term paper
• gap in the technical competence;
• low level of motivation in given country.

Generally, a manager and his/her family must be psychologically prepared for the life in another country. They need to (Mullins, 2011; Zhu, 2008; Lee & Akhtar, 1996):
• want to live and work in this country;
• be personally mature and tolerant to uncertainty;
• strive to learn; learn from the new experiences and adapt to new conditions;
• possess communication skills and establish long-term friendship with the locals;
• not impose their own assessment or judge the values of other cultures.

That’s why MNCs should help managers and their families achieve success by supporting them both in a work environment of a different culture and in everyday life. This assistance can be provided before departure, while working abroad and after returning back from another country through cross-cultural training (Mendenhall et al., 2000).

Cross-cultural training can be defined as a learning process, which is designed for cross-cultural learning, i.e. acquisition of behavioral, cognitive and affective skills necessary for the effective communication and interaction in different cultures (Brock & Siscovick, 2007). The main objectives of cross-cultural training are (Kohls & Knight, 1994; Chew & Horwitz, 2004):
1. Providing information about other cultures,
2. Developing skills relevant to the culture the trainees are going to live and work in,
3. Development of tolerance to different attitudes, values and beliefs,
4. Development of language skills,
5. Teaching culturally appropriate behavioral reactions,
6. Assistance in coping with culture shock,
7. Development of cultural self-consciousness,
8. Development of attitudes which will help perceive a new culture in a positive way.

There are six basic approaches to cross-cultural training, however, most of the programs existing today use one or more of them, but rarely all the six approaches at a time (Littrell et al., 2006; Kohls & Knight, 1994; Black & Mendenhall, 1990; Cutler, 2005; Triandis, 2006):
1. Informational training, or training focused on the facts. The participants are taught a variety of facts about the country of destination through lectures, group discussions, videos and reading materials. The provided information may include data on the economy, climate, living conditions, daily behavior, decision-making style, typical experiences of people in similar situations of adaptation.
2. Training of attributions. This approach focuses on explaining the behavior from the viewpoint of a representative of another culture. The purpose is to teach the attributions used by local residents and explain their reasons.
3. Cultural awareness. Through studying values and behavioral norms prevalent in a given country, specialists applying this approach aim to get trainees acquainted with the basic ideas of cross-cultural relations. The purpose of the training is the introduction of the concept of “culture”. Workshop participants are encouraged to further explore their own country, and the preparations for working in another culture are passing through the acquaintance with the cultural differences.
4. Cognitive-behavioral modification. In this method, the proven principles of learning are applied to the particular problems of adaptation to the foreign culture. For example, the participants are asked to make a list of what they find useful and what they find difficult in their own country, and then consider the peculiarities of the host country in order to determine what they can get benefit from and how the difficulties could be avoided.
5. Empirical learning (learning through experience). The key difference between experiential learning and other forms of cross-cultural training is that the participants are maximally engaged in the process. The aim of the empirical learning is to see the life in another country by actively gaining experience in another culture (for example, by organizing “field trips” or in a situation of functional simulation).
6. Interaction approach. During the training of this type, the trainees actively interact with the representatives of another culture or experienced people who are familiar with this culture and can share their own observations and achievements. The starting position of this approach is that if during the training participants learn to feel comfortable with a different culture, they will be able to adapt to another culture much earlier.

In our opinion, one of the most successful models for organizing cross-cultural training for managers is a “Model of freedom” developed by Dutch specialists (Littrell, 2006). The model contributes much to identifying the specific cultural values of the country, organization or individual, as well as creating and testing a clear profile of cultural identification. Comparing the obtained profiles allows managers to understand the similarities and differences in business management, negotiations, and communication, to determine the priorities of each of the parties and establish an effective framework for fruitful cooperation. The “Model of freedom” also allows using a database on the preferred style of doing business in 52 countries.

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