Concerns about Current Cross-cultural Training
Training Methods and Training Rigor
The first concern is the selection of an appropriate cross-cultural training method and its level of training rigor. The degree of interaction required in the host country and the similarity between the individual’s native culture and the new culture are two determining factors for the selection of training methods and the level of training rigor (Black & Mendenhall, 1989; Mendenhall & Oddou, 1985). Low-rigor training approaches use factual training methods, such as books, lectures, films, and area briefing. Medium-rigor training approaches use analytical training method, such as sensitivity training, culture assimilators, and classroom language training. High-rigor training approaches use experimental training methods, such as simulations, field trips, role plays, and interactive language training. The duration of low-rigor training is 4 to 20 hours, while high-rigor training was between 60 and 180 hours (Black, Gregersen, & Mendenhall, 1992; Black & Mendenhall, 1989, 1990). Research found that unlike their European and Japanese counterparts, few American firms offer their expatriate managers in-depth, rigorous, skill-centered cross-cultural training; most of the training focuses only on troubleshooting and operatives (Black, Gregersen, & Mendenhall, 1992; Brewster, 1988; Oddou & Mendenhall, 1991). For U.S. expatriate managers working in China, in-depth cross-cultural training should be provided in order to understand its culture, economy, and political system (Björkman and Schaap, 1994). Expatriates who were working in China believed that they need additional cultural training; topics such as information on living, crime, culture, history and economies would have enhanced their experience in China (Riley, Yester, & Elkin, 2000). Language Training
The second concern is that language training is rarely provided by U.S. MNCs (Brewster, 1995; Tung, 1982). Language training does not mean that expatriates must achieve fluency in the host country language; however, the visible effort of the expatriates undertaking the courtesies of introductions and small talk not only can help develop a trusting climate with host country nationals (HCNs), but also can be a very useful method of getting to know the host country’s culture (Ashamalla & Cocitto, 1997; Forster, 2000). Moreover, Dolainski (1997) points out that knowing a customer’s language can often translate directly into profit. Much of the day-to-day business of U.S. expatriate managers assigned to China, is conducted in Chinese, and Chinese is the language of non-work life. Therefore, even lower levels of commitment in learning Chinese can help U.S. expatriate managers promote a social orientation and desire to communicate with local Chinese both at work- and out-of-work environments (Björkman & Schaap, 1994; Selmer, 2000; Sergeant & Frenkel, 1998). It is not surprising that in a survey of 35 expatriate managers in China, the majority, sixty-one percent of them mentioned that language training would have proved most useful prior to their assignments and cultural assimilation in China (Riley, Yester, & Elkin, 2000). The study also indicated that expatriates, successful in their work, are those best able to assimilate into Chinese culture (Riley, Yester, and Elkin, 2000). Björkman and Schaap (1994) suggest that expatriate managers learn some Chinese before going to China, because “upon arrival there are too many work-related issues that need to be addressed, and too little excess energy to start learning an entirely unknown language” (p. 150). Ethics Training
In recent years, the collapse of some corporate giants such as WorldCom, Enron, and Arthur Anderson has forced many companies to check their ethics’ pulse. Since international business ethics inevitably deals with cross-cultural issues (Donaldson,...
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