Expatriate Failure

Topics: Expatriate, Human resource management, Management Pages: 6 (2078 words) Published: November 12, 2010
Expatriate Failure – Research Essay
With globalization and increasing competition, organizations are forced to expand beyond national boundaries. These international operations naturally gave birth to the need of expatriates, who goes to the foreign country with an intention of controlling the operations and to provide technical and administrative services. The expatriate job is highly demanding and sometimes very complicated due to differences between countries’ labour situation, culture, economic and legal systems. Studies undertaken in this area have shown that there is a high rate of failure among expatriates mainly because of their and their families’ inability to deal with the uncertainties associated with it(Lee,2007). Reasons for this failure can be improper selection criteria and mechanisms, lack of earlier international experience , cross cultural training ,individual factors, job related factors, home country situations, host country situations, and various other non-job related reasons( Black,et al,1991). These failures can, not only be detrimental to organization’s growth in overseas but also can create problems in the personal life of these elite executives. This essay tries to investigate the reasons for the expatriate failure and suggest remedies to bring down the percentage of this evil or if possible completely eradicate it. Proper understanding of the term ‘expatriate failure’ will help in finding the reasons as well as to suggest remedies. According to Lee(2007), presently available literature lacks wider acceptance because ,expatriate failure is studied on the basis of only premature return and it fails to show the true picture of the extend of this vicious phenomenon. The use of this definition can be misleading and can cover up underlying issues, as it implies the completion of duration of expatriate tenure is a definite success and completely forgets the important factors like achieving performance objectives, repatriation difficulties and undervaluing the skills and knowledge developed by the expatriates. With this wider perspective reasons for the expatriate failure can be analyzed in a more fruitful and meaningful manner (Harzing, 1995; Harrison, 1999). Reasons for the failure of expatriates

Various studies have established the failure rate of expatriates is exceedingly high and cost incurred can be substantial (Sanchez, et al, 2000; Forester, 1997).The Survey conducted by GMAC Global relocation in May, 2008 identified three main reasons for the expatriate failure (Halie, et al 2010) .These reasons are, finding right candidate, helping employees and their families and retraining these employees once the assignment is completed. Existing literature review demonstrates, selection of the appropriate expatriate, absence or poorly developed cross-cultural training programs and spouse and family related issues (Zeira&Banai, 1985; Black &Mendenhall, 1990; Black &Stephens, 1999) .Some others point out technical incapability and lac of home country support (Lee,2007)can also contribute to this failure. For a fruitful discussion all these reasons can be grouped into four categories. 1) Selection of Appropriate Candidate

2) Cultural adaptability
3) Spouse and family related issues
4) Lack of home country support
Selection of appropriate candidate – In most of the cases perfect candidate is just a dream for the HR mangers. They have to choose from the available candidates who are willing to be relocated. Along with lack of availability of good candidates there is a lack of consensus among HR mangers in deciding the criteria for selection of expatriates. A study conducted by Tung (1987) found that companies put over emphasis on technical capability while selecting the expatriates, but the study proved that this reason is not among the first five contributors in expatriate failure. A research conducted by Stone (1991) among Australian and Asian managers demonstrated that...

References: Black, J. S., & Mendenhall, M. (1990), Cross-cultural training effectiveness: A review and theoretical framework for future research. Academy of Management Review, 15, 113-136.
Black, J. S., & Stephens, J. K. (1989), the influence of the spouse on American expatriate adjustment in overseas assignments. Journal of Management Science, 15, 529-544.
Clarke, Chris (1997) Expat Gravy Train Runs OUT of Steam, Daily Mail (London) May 15
HRMagazine (2008) "Cultural intelligence Brief article (Book review)" Society for Human Resource Management
PR Newswire (2001)"EXPERTS ADVISE INTERNATIONAL COMPANIES HOW TO CAPTURE RETURN ON EXPATRIATE INVESTMENTS. PR Newswire Association LLC, Retrieved October 24, 2010 from HighBeam Research: http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-74934752.html
Shaffer, M
Stone, R. L, (1991), 'Expatriate Selection and Failure ', Human Resource Planning, 14(1): 9-18.
Tung, R. L., (1987). 'Expatriate Assignments: Enhancing Success and Minimizing Failure ', Academy of Management Executive, 1 (2): 1 17-126
Zeira, Y and Banai, M
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