International Business and Policy
SEMESTER : 2
Martin is an American, working for an American company, Hydropower, that is undertaking a new project in an African country.
Martin has been sent by his company to perform 3 specific duties: (1) to work with the national government of the African country and with the local community that will be affected by the new hydro scheme to ensure that the company gets all necessary permissions to proceed with the project; (2) to establish an office and hire people to work in that office to look after such matters as purchasing, staff recruitment, customers and immigrations issues, and (3) help foreign visitors (mainly the company engineers) become accommodated and oriented when visiting the African country.
Martin is no stranger to Africa. After graduating from university in the USA, he joined the Peace Corps and worked in several African countries. He tried to avoid just mixing with the expatriates (mainly Westerners) in these countries, and developed his own creed of ‘Don’t draw attention to yourself, and above all, learn and respect the culture.’
Martin had been working for Hydropower in the African country for about 18 months and his American manager was now in the process of deciding whether to keep Martin in his African position. The manager had some concerns about Martin.
There were no concerns about Martin’s performance. He had completed the first stage of the hydro development before the scheduled time and under budget. The concern lay around other matters.
Firstly, although there were no written company rules about how expatriates lived overseas, it was expected that they should live in a way that reflected a prosperous international company. Martin, however, had avoided living with other expatriates, choosing to live in a middle class African neighbourhood. The company thought this may be setting a poor example for other expatriates.