International Business People

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Who are they?
Persons going abroad for commercial and business reasons. • Individuals who have usually been sent by their employers to work and live temporarily in other countries. • People including all occupational levels from factory and domestic staff to highly skilled technicians, professionals and managers.

Cultural distance, work performance and adaptation of business people The adjustment and coping difficulties of sojourners increase with the distance between their culture of origin and that of the host society The Key underlying practical problem is that human resource management and business practices do not easily migrate across cultural boundaries. What succeeds in New York may not work in Sidney and will probably fail in Beijing or Tokyo.

But some management practices, such as flexible working hours, have been easier to transfer than others items. Some has to be modified, such as quality circles and teamwork. And some, like morning ceremonies that are a feature of many Japanese companies, have to be resisted to transfer.

Research has shown that the greater the cultural mixture of a work group, defined as the greater the relative cultural distance among group members, the greater the likelihood that this will have adverse consequences on group performance. Such groups will be more difficult to manage. Work group mixture, however, does have some advantages. In particular, heterogeneous groups tend to be more creative, largely because they bring a variety of perspectives to the task in hand. But research has also shown that cultural diversity may lead to lower levels of interpersonal harmony, more stress and greater turnover. If companies can learn how to manage such variety, they would gain a competitive advantage by being able to harness the positive aspects of heterogeneity.

Self-managing teams
It is believed that if workers are given greater freedom to make decisions affecting the way in which they do their jobs, this will...
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