The Impact of Cross-Cultural Training for Expatriates in a Chinese firm

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CDI 15,3

The impact of cross-cultural training for expatriates in a Chinese firm Chenyi Qin and Yehuda Baruch
Norwich Business School, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK Abstract
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the significance of cross-cultural training and career attitudes for expatriation career move in the context of China, whether cross-cultural training is perceived necessary, and the consequence of providing such cross-cultural training. Design/methodology/approach – Data were collected from 82 expatriates from a Chinese firm, some of whom were expatriated to a foreign country and others who were expatriated from foreign countries to China. Findings – Expatriates adjusted well, and having a protean career attitude was a decisive factor. While the impact of cross-cultural training prior to departure was not statistically significant, it was well received and considered important. Research limitations/implications – A limitation is the limited sample size. Implications are presented for conducting cross-cultural training. Practical implications – Developing cross-cultural training programs could add value to the firm and its people. Originality/value – Using a particular Chinese firm the paper highlights the value and necessity of cross-cultural training for successful expatriation. Keywords Expatriates, Performance management, Cross-cultural management, China Paper type Research paper

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Received 2 January 2009 Revised 19 February 2010 11 March 2010 Accepted 11 March 2010

Career Development International Vol. 15 No. 3, 2010 pp. 296-318 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 1362-0436 DOI 10.1108/13620431011053758

Introduction There is a clear evidence for the positive impact of HRM practice on organizational performance, starting with the seminal work of Huselid(1995), and followed by further evidence, backed up by recent meta-analyses (Combs et al., 2006; Tharenou et al., 2007). This impact is consistent, though not very strong, and the evidence is particularly clear when training impact is evaluated (Combs et al., 2006). Training is thus a crucial HRM activity with wide-range implications, yet the measurement of its impact is challenging (Yang et al., 1996). One special type of training is cross-cultural training before taking up an expatriation appointment, which has often been viewed as a way to increase the likelihood of success during the assignment (Bolino and Feldman, 2000; Hurn, 2007; Tung, 1987; van Emmerik and Euwema, 2009). This view is in line with the career literature which focus on global career moves (Guzzo et al., 1994) and on new career attitudes such as the protean (Briscoe et al., 2006), as well as the literature on cultural intelligence (Ang et al., 2006; Ang et al., 2007; Brislin et al., 2006; Earley and Ang, 2003). An earlier version of this paper was presented at the EURAM, Rome 2010.

Pre-posting preparation for the intended expatriate and his/her family is taken care of prior to the expatriation, and may include cross-cultural training. Such training aims to provide support and improve the maintenance of relations with the home organization while on assignment (Mendenhall et al., 1987; Zetlin, 1994). Studies conducted in western firms suggest that cross-cultural training improves managers’ cross-cultural effectiveness and performance, and reduces failure rates (Bhawuk and Brislin, 2000; Black and Mendenhall, 1989, 1990; Deshpande and Viswesvaran, 1992; Morris and Robie, 2001). The aim of these training is to ease the transition stage, which follows the expatriation move and enable effective adjustment. The supporting evidence is not strong, as Hechanova et al.’s (2003) meta-analysis identified a weak negative relationship between attendance of cross-cultural training and expatriate adjustment in the host workplace, and Bozionelos (2009) did not find such...
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