1. Differentiate between the key issues arising from organisations operating in an international context
2. Recognise and evaluate the key requirements for managing people in an international context
4. Describe the impact that culture has on management in the international context
5. Engage critically with recent research in the literature in order to gain a deeper understanding of ongoing developments in the human resource management function
6. Apply the theories and concepts learned to both hypothetical environments and real situations such as their own workplace
The operation of the human resources across all the cultural as well as geographical boundaries poses tough challenges to the multinational organizations(Kawada & Levine, 2014).There are an increasing number of companies that are making use of the widespread use of the technologies in venturing into foreign business locations(Kawada & Levine, 2014). The expansion of the business in the foreign business locations would ensure that there needs to be recruitment of the local manpower. This gives rise to several issues in the management of the international human resources. The human resource activities of the international HR department concern with the performing of basic HR functions along with the specific tasks of the offshore business operations. The demand for labor varies in different countries and is greatly affected by the cultural/social norms.
The cross cultural diversity of the multinational companies is an important factor for the international human resource managers. The employees of the global firms belong to different nationals and hence it may threaten the team cohesion and subsequently the accomplishment of the organizational goals. One of the main characteristics of the international human resource is the focus in the expatriate experience. This essay would discuss these two topics of international HRM in detail. There are two case studies selected for the purpose of references- “Lessons from Fred Bailey’s Expatriate Experience in Japan: Proactively Preparing Employees for International Assignments” and “Managing Cross-Cultural Issues in Global Software Outsourcing”.
The increasing globalization has fostered an increase in the number of companies who are engaging in cross border trade. This involves a significant amount of the structural changes in the economies, technology, products and trade, which needs to be taken care of by the multinational companies (Cerdin& Brewster, 2014). One of the most important jobs of the international human resource management is the recruitment of the employees of the parent companies to different managerial positions in the foreign subsidiaries (Cerdin& Brewster, 2014). The term “expatriation” can be defined as the phenomenon of the international transfer of the employees who are working in the foreign subsidiaries for pre-determined period (Cerdin& Brewster, 2014). The period can range from two years to five years. The process of expatriate management is concerned with global integration and the better management of the employees in a foreign location.
The case study on “Lessons from Fred Bailey’s Expatriate Experience in Japan: Proactively Preparing Employees for International Assignments” emphasizes on the experience of an American manager who is being transferred to work in Japan (Jbsq.org, 2017). The problem definition of the case scenario is that the expat is unable to adjust himself with the business and social culture of a foreign land. This creates a problematic situation as he is unable to perform his duty owing to the cultural differences of Japan. The protagonist Fred also do not have any other options. The option of returning to his homeland is not a feasible one either. The manager who evaluates the business culture of Tokyo, finds out that it is quite different from his home country (Jbsq.org, 2017). There is significant difference in the social as well as business culture, which caused frustration in the job. The case study also focused on the different challenges of an international assignments (Jbsq.org, 2017). The protagonist, Fred was unaware of the different cultural attributes of America and Japan and hence he was unable to apply suitable strategies for the foreign location. There were no pre-departure training programs for the employees going to work on overseas business assignments (Jbsq.org, 2017). The differences in culture were not outlined to the expat who was going to work in the foreign location. The relationship building attributes of the countries changes, which was not briefed to the employee before joining the foreign location (Jbsq.org, 2017). These issues were quite evident and hence Fred was unable to adjust with the new culture.
The Japanese people rely more on the non-verbal communication tactics where they place more importance on the context. The Japanese people have a habit of saying no and they do it more often. The Japanese have an art of communicating disagreements by avoiding disagreements, keeping harmony and saving face. They often presume the fact that they could have upset the mood of another person. They also place more importance to the art of bowing and this forms an integral part of their behavior. The meetings in Japanese culture are not considered as brainstorming or decision-making activities. The meetings are held to extract information from the business entities and there is an involved consensus building process. The expats require specific competencies to hire local staffs at Japan. There are a lot of prevalence of the Japanese speaking people and it is almost disastrous to not know the Japanese language.
The Japanese give importance to silence and it is given lot of importance over talking. They link silence with credibility and it speaks loudly about emotional self-control and wisdom. An individual who has formal approach, more introvert approach is more likely to adjust himself well in Japan. The body language of Japanese tends to display passive resistance and it is best to avoid misunderstandings in this regard. The Japanese culture considers making eye contact a rude gesture and they can also be considered as the signs of aggression. The greeting is equivalent to the western version of handshake. The longer as well as lower position of bow us considered as high form of paying respect.
The international transfer of the managers often poses several issues as there is the involvement of the planning as well as training of the concerned employees. There may be issues with the employees when moving to a foreign location (Shortland, 2013). The issues of adaptation in a foreign location are common which may have significant effect on their organizational performance (Shortland, 2013). There are often issues with the communication process, as the expats may fail to understand the local language of the community. This problem is often fostered by the lack of training in the organization (Shortland, 2013). There is often poor “pre-departure” training that makes the employees fail to adjust in the new place. They may have issues with the interaction with the new employees as there may be different management style in the new locations (Shortland, 2013). There may also be problems concerning the language, culture and the psychological combination of the local population. The failure of expatriate management can lead to premature termination of the projects and this can lead to sufficient financial loss for the company.
As opined by the Shortland (2013), the expatriate adjustment is concerned with the familiarity of the managers in a completely unfamiliar work environment. The cross-cultural adjustment is essential in which there should be high emphasis on the orientation programs and the language training programs (Shortland, 2013). The best solution to deal with the issue is to understand the three parameters of the expatriate adjustment such as perceptual skills, self-orientation and cultural toughness. In this process of expat management, it is important to properly deal with the issue of homesickness and avoid the instances of cultural shocks.
Shen & Jian Hundidovlack et al. (2015) commented that theory of met expectations is concerned with the expectations of the employees is directly related with the individual’s reality when they start working on the job. The realistic recruitment processes and the various kinds of the orientation messages are helpful in adjusting the expatriate into the new job roles in a foreign location. The expatriates create the expectations regarding the host country and hence there is the creation of expectations from the current job role (Menguc & Bhuian, 2015). When there are instances that the expats get ambiguous information regarding their job role in the foreign location, then they are often seen to implement various mental shortcuts (Menguc & Bhuian, 2015). The mental shortcuts may range from the stereotypes which are also defined as the cognitive structures (Menguc & Bhuian, 2015). The stereotyping is concerned with defining of the individuals first irrespective of their individual characteristics and then forming a personal interaction so that the person can be known better (Mähönen, Leinonen &Jasinskaja-Lairinhi2013). The expatriate use stereotyping to segregate all the host nationals and they have given set of characteristics. There are risks of overgeneralization of the regarding the host nationals, which may often lead to inappropriate assessment of the traits of an individual.
The selection process of the expatriates for international assignments needs to be done in an appropriate manner so that there are no adjustment issues. The various selection tools should be used such as formal assessment, behavioral process, psychological analysis and others (Menguc & Bhuian, 2015). The prior experiences of the expats performing successful overseas assignments should be taken into consideration during the interview process. The employees who have high degrees of excellent socialization, extraversion and the relationship skills are more likely to survive in a foreign location easily (Mackie & Hamilton, 2014).
As opined by Menguc and Bhuian (2015), it is important to understand the national culture, which refers to the living standards and process of the population of particular country. The culture, as defined by Hofstede, is the collective mental programming that segregates the members of one human group with that of other (Firth et al., 2014). There are usually three layers of culture such as surface culture, hidden culture and invisible culture, which provides an understanding of the different aspects of culture. There is already disruption of the talented workforce and there would be certain section of the workforce that would be useless now. This forms the basis of the cross-cultural diversity witnessed in international human resource management.
The cultural diversity poses several challenges for managing the employees coming from diverse backgrounds. As opined by Wurtz and Suutari (2014), the organizations need to take care of the different cultural practices and business activities so that a diverse team can be managed in a convenient manner. The development as well as retention of the cross cultural skilled managers isa representation of the organizational culture. There is a high degree of inconsistency of the business regulations in different parts of the world, which often leads to the business management issues (Wurtz&Suutari, 2014). It is difficult to find reliable sources of information and understand the requirements of a different country. There are varying numbers of trends that are taking place in the legal jurisdiction of the countries.
As commented by Ochieng et al. (2013), there are several issues with the cross-cultural teams that operate in a foreign location. There are possibilities of conflict in the workplace and this could be triggered by the racial discrimination and prejudices. There are instances when there are issues with the lifestyle acceptance (Tripathi Prabhakar & Liddle, 2015). There can be issues with the harassment of the foreign workers as they would not be able to mix well with the local communities (Farhan, Brevetti & Laditan, 2016). There are often issues with the communication process and this hampers the organizational productivity. The new employees may not be able to survive the new job and new job environment (Farhan, Brevetti & Laditan, 2016).
The issues of expatriate management as well as cross border management requires careful analysis and careful planning. It is important to engage in training prior to the cross-border deputation (Farhan, Brevetti & Laditan, 2016). The training should address the different types of attributes including cultural preferences when an employee is being shifted from one country to another. The expats should be given prior orientation before they join the overseas trade.
The issue of expatriate is common in the multinational organizations which should be handled in a responsible manner. It is imperative that Fred should be sent to Tokyo and Harry should be sent to HK. But, however, the expats should be prepared well before sending them to the foreign land. The expats selections should be done in a responsible manner so that the correct persons are chosen for the new job role in the foreign location. A proper counselling session should be conducted with the concerned employees so that they are aware of the probable challenges that they would be facing in the foreign locations. It is important to inform the expats about the necessary cultural adjustments that they need to make in the foreign locations. It is also advisable to deliver a fully functional pre-training program which would help them to understand the concept of changing job locations in a better way. It is also important to gain understanding of the number of people who are coming in the organization from cross border. There should be more interaction with the home country employees so that there is an enhancement of the interpersonal relationships. There should be formulation of employee friendly practices and more lucrative offers for the overseas employees, which would make them to stick to their jobs for longer duration.
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