Introduction a number of key components which

Introduction

The world is becoming increasingly globalised; companies are
expanding their operations across borders to stay competitive and increase
their market share. These operations require staffing – a need which
organisations often respond to by sending home country employees abroad. For
these employees, working in a different country requires preparation, support
and adjustment, to be successful. Organisations need to support their employees
through this journey and cross cultural training (CCT) is one such way of doing
so.

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In this essay, I will critically assess the key components of
a Cross Cultural Training and Development Programme (CCTDP) intended for a
group of male and female expatriates from the U.K who will be taking up
international assignments in the hospitality industry in the Middle East. To do
this, I will first explain what CCT is and identify the key components of a CCTDP.
I will then critically assess these components, starting with the training
components typically received prior to departure before moving on to those
received post-arrival. Throughout this process I will refer to the implications
of such training for the group identified, i.e. the male and female expatriates
from the UK who will be taking up international assignments in the hospitality
industry in the Middle East.

Cross Cultural Training

CCT is defined as those “educative processes that are
designed to promote intercultural learning, by which we mean the acquisition of
behavioral, cognitive, and affective competencies associated with effective
interaction across cultures” (Paige and Martin, 1983:36). The behavioural
competencies include self-maintenance, interpersonal, and cognitive skills
(Littrell and Salas, 2005:308). Cerimagic and Smith (2011:668) citing Black and
Mendenhall (1990) note that there is “strong evidence that suggests that
cross-cultural training is a critical factor in the preparation of expatriates
on their overseas assignments”. It aims to helps with expatriates’
cultural adjustment, which is considered to be a “prerequisite for
expatriate success abroad” (Puck et al., 2008:2182).

Key Components of a
Cross Cultural Training and Development Programme

There are a number of key components which should be included
in a CCTDP including, as identified by Littrell and Salas (2005:309),
attribution training, cultural awareness training, language training, didactic
training, cognitive-behaviour modification training, experiential training, and
interaction training. CCT should be provided to the expatriates prior to and
during the assignment because, as found by Konanahalli et al. (2012:1), success
of expatriation “does not entirely rest on an expatriate’s ability but
also on organisational support and assistance that expatriates receive prior to
and during the assignment”.

Programme
Considerations

As every international assignment is different, every CCTDP
needs to be developed to the specifications of the assignment. This means
tailoring the programme to the expatriate, their family, and the assignment
location. For the expatriate, the programme should consider their current
knowledge, skills and attitudes (KSA), and required KSA. The expatriate’s
family and their needs need to be considered as evidence suggests that
“family concerns, partner dissatisfaction and partner inability to
adapt” are the main reasons for unsuccessful assignments (Reiche, Lee and
Quintanilla, 2013:13). Finally, location needs to be consider. Konanahalli et
al. (2012:1) found that “relocation to less developed, remote or
politically unstable regions, demands additional support and consideration by
the parent company”. Even for assignments which are taking place within the
same region, in the Middle East for example, consideration needs to be given to
the specific location as the Middle East alone has a population greater than
400 million, across 17 countries, each with their own history and culture
(World Population Review, 2017).

Cultural Awareness
Training

Cultural awareness training is the first type of training the
expatriates will experience. It provides individuals with the opportunity to
develop a deeper understanding of their own culture, as it is believed that
individuals who have a better understanding of their own culture will be better
equipped to understand the culture of others and therefore, be more effective
in multi-cultural environments (Littrell and Salas, 2005:210; Bennett, 1986).
Although it is important for people to learn about their own culture, we should
not assume that this is sufficient for ensuring they have an appreciation for
other cultures, especially where there are large cultural differences present.
For example, UK women may find it particularly challenging to understand some
of the cultural differences in the Middle East where men are still seen as the
dominant sex. Cultural awareness training needs to aim to develop participants’
ability to recognise and accept cultural differences.

Kealey and Protheroe (1996:153) identified a “chief
benefit claimed for cultural awareness training is that cultural knowledge…
not only helps to avoid offending the sensibilities of host nationals, but also
enhances the likelihood of fruitful collaboration”. As the UK expatriates
are from the hospitality industry, and hence are already interacting with
people from various cultural backgrounds on a daily basis, they should have
already completed cultural awareness training. However, due to the benefits of
cultural awareness training as noted above, and the expected increase in the
number of cross-cultural interactions while on assignment, it is advisable for
expatriates to attend a refresher training session. This training should also
be provided to the partners of the expatriates who will also be travelling to
the host location as their adjustment can influence the expatriate’s
satisfaction and hence success on the assignment (Littrell and Salas, 2005:315).

In a survey conducted by Kwintessential (2009) it was found
that “88% of their internationally-savvy respondents agreed that cultural
awareness training would have been of benefit to them prior to doing business
in a foreign country”. This perceived value of cultural awareness training
can, according to psychological contract theory, enhance commitment and ease
the “stress and uncertainties experienced by the expatriate”,
Konanahalli (2012:42) citing (Munton and Foster, 1993). Overall, cultural awareness
training is a good starting point for organisations in terms of cross cultural
training. There are perceived benefits and as the training can be quite generic
in nature, it is relatively low cost and effort compared to other CCTDP
components.  

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