an Expatriate Assignment for You?
assignment is the goal of many global business people.
the opportunity to experience life in another country,
gain valuable international business experience, and increase
the chances of achieving greater career success. However,
a number of expatriates have found that an 'overseas' assignment
can be a negative experience, both personally and career
readers of the International Business Center Newsletter
may be offered an expatriate assignment in the future, we
have listed six important questions to ask yourself when
that time comes. These six questions are from the International-Business-Careers.com
you tend to be judgmental?
The single most important factor in working
in another country on an international assignment is your
ability to accept and work within the culture, customs, beliefs,
and attitudes of that country.
The majority of successful business executives
achieve their success through a strong personality and making
decisions based on their personal background and experience.
when moving to another country, the executive is placed
in a new environment where his or
her background has little relationship to their new surroundings.
The first reaction is frequently to 'take control' of the
situation and apply that strong personality. Nothing could
The only way to be successful in an overseas
assignment is through relationships that encourage the local
employees to cooperate with the expatriate manager.
2) Do you enjoy people, or are you more
As a manager working in an international
assignment, your primary job is certainly to accomplish the
corporate goals and objectives.
However, in many cultures throughout the
world, the most important aspect of life is the support of
the community, the people, the family. Unless there is a
clear understanding of the motivations of employees, the
manager may create animosity and jeopardize the productivity
of the company's operation.
is strongly recommended to learn everything possible about
the culture you are potentially going into.
A great place to start is with a detailed review of the Geert
Hofstede Cultural Dimensions for that country or region.
You can access this information by selecting the country
or region from the lower left side of the Country
3) Are you flexible and welcome change?
with the unexpected is common in many countries, and
can be especially challenging for
U.S. managers who go overseas, since they are more accustom
to a relatively stable business regulatory environment.
The involvement of governments and politics
in business is not unusual in many countries around the world,
and especially in economically under-developed countries.
The ability to be open to unexpected situations
and challenges, some of which may be uncontrollable, is another
important attribute for the international manager.
4) Do you like family and friends around
It is less likely in today's economic
environment that companies will pay for full family relocation
to foreign countries. More often, expatriate assignments
are made with shorter term contracts of 12-18 months, rather
than the older 2-3 year agreements.
This allows the company to circumvent
the more costly relocations. However, it is not unusual for
one of these shorter term assignments to be extended before
Therefore, many international assignments
will require your ability to function effectively away from
home, away from friends, and away from family for periods
that may be extended up to 36 months.
Another recent trend is extending the
time interval between 'home leave'. Home leave is when an
expatriate periodically returns home for one or two weeks.
Again, these delays, or in some cases cancellations, are
motivated by the company's desire to reduce costs and increase
5) Is it good news if your spouse can
go with you?
This is a hard question to answer. Having
a spouse on a foreign assignment certainly can be nice --- If the
spouse enjoys the assignment! In the majority of spousal
relocations, it is not likely they can also be employed in
the foreign country. So what do they do all day?
Therefore, it is important that the spouse
of an expatriate also answer each of the questions on this
page, as he or she will be just as immersed in the new environment
as the employee.
In fact, overseas assignments are frequently
much more difficult for the spouse because he or she is not
working 10-12 hours a day, which easily fills the employee's
time. For the spouse, sitting in a home or apartment in a
country that may have a different language creates isolation,
which can be a real problem.
6) How willing are you to take risks?
The world has become a more risky place
for certain nationalities. In particular, citizens of the
United States are considered legitimate targets by many international
While the chance of being injured by a
terrorist act is very small, anti-American attitudes in many
countries, including those that have been close allies, can
make for a psychologically hostile and unhappy working and
information on international business careers can be found
International Takeoff of New Products:
The Role of Economics,
Gerard J. Tellis, Stefan Stremersch and Eden Yin
Sales takeoff is vitally important for the management of new
products. Limited prior research on this phenomenon covers
only the US. This study addresses the following questions about
takeoff in Europe:
(1) Does takeoff occur as distinctly in other countries,
as it does in the US?
Do different categories and countries have consistently
(3) What economic and cultural
factors explain the inter-country differences?
managers use a sprinkler or waterfall strategy
for the introduction of new products across countries?
We gathered data on 137 new products across 10 categories
and 16 European countries. We adapted the threshold
identifying takeoff (Golder and Tellis 1997) to
this multinational context. We specify a parametric
model to answer
the questions above. The major results are as follows:
(1) Sales of most new products display a distinct
takeoff in various European countries, at an average
of 6 years
The time-to-takeoff varies substantially across
countries and categories. It is four
products than for kitchen & laundry appliances.
It is almost half as long in Scandinavian countries
(3) While culture partially explains inter-country
differences in time-to-takeoff, economic factors
are neither strong nor
robust explanatory factors.
(4) These results suggest distinct advantages
to a waterfall strategy for introducing products
the full PDF version of this paper, press here: Takeoff
J. Tellis, Marshall School of Business, the University
of Southern California firstname.lastname@example.org
Stremersch, Erasmus University Rotterdam email@example.com
Yin, Judge Institute, Cambridge University firstname.lastname@example.org
by Stephen Taylor, Executive
Director of the International Business Center
encourage and receive a number of questions submitted
by visitors to the International
Business Center, International
Business Careers, and Geert
Hofstede Websites. We share some of
these questions and answers here for IBC Newsletter
Question from France - South Korea
is ranked as a rather feminine culture. However as I can
acknowledge it in the company I work in, I would rather say
that they have a more masculine
culture (it matches with the descriptions of masculinity
anyway). How can you explain that ? Do you think
the south korean culture has evolved so much in the
past decades ?
- Dr. Geert Hofstede's
Masculinity Dimension refers to the differentiation
male and female gender roles. His foundation for this
Index was based on the assumption there was less
women's values country-to-country, than among men's
values. Therefore, the Index is a relative number
that reflects the delta, or difference, between the
female members of the surveyed population, with the
female population establishing the baseline.
this in mind, it may be possible that if the female population
of a specific country has developed a more masculine value
system than other countries in the survey, then the Index
may not display a high numeric value.
is also interesting to compare the Hofstede Dimensions
of South Korea to El Salvador, as they have a close
interesting fact is that South Korea has the highest
Christian population of any Asian country at 49%. The next
is Hong Kong at 10%.
question on whether the South Korean culture is changing
is an excellent question, and one often asked about
Hofstede's Dimensions. Unless new surveys were given to
it is not possible to accurately have an answer.
if we presuppose that cultures around the world have developed
over hundreds or thousands of years, then it is unlikely
that significant change has occurred within a period of ten
years. But, if
a culture is faced with a significant and dynamic revolutionary
change (compared to an evolutionary change) - such as Russia
in 1917, then it may be possible to see a significant cultural
shift over a relatively short period of time. We also see that
religion is a significant contributor to culture, therefore
a dramatic religious realignment in a country can have
a potentially significant cultural impact.
from the Netherlands - I
am enjoying very much reading all the articles related
to negotiation and
how culture influences the negotiation styles of every man
around the world. I am really proud that there is such a
website like this since this is very useful for every people around the world
regardless their profession.
Recently, I am studying seriously how culture influences
the negotiation styles of Chinese Indonesian. I know that
Hofstede had made a research of the elements of culture in Indonesia (power distance,
Nevertheless, Chinese Indonesian, which accounts only 3.5
% of total population, dominate much of Indonesian businesses
How does this possibly happen? Just because of the history
background that happened to benefit Chinese in doing business
or is there something to do with the culture of Chinese Indonesian or their
Answer - If we compare the Hofstede Dimensions for China and Indonesia
we find the following, a very close approximation:
first issue is who were the people that Geert Hofstede
surveyed in 1967-1973 in Indonesia for his
cultural Dimensions. The answer is IBM facility employees.
That being the case, I anticipate that during that period
(1967-1973) the majority of surveyed employees at IBM Indonesia
were Chinese-Indonesians that reflected their Chinese Cultural
heritage, not the indigenous Indonesian culture.
it is likely that the Hofstede Dimensions for
Indonesia did not accurately portray the majority of the
Indonesian population at the time, but rather the very small
Chinese-Indonesian population that held the majority
of businesses in Indonesia
for many years.
where does that guide us? One way is to conduct
a new survey with the majority of indigenous Indonesian
population, however that is not likely to occur. The
other possibility is to try and find correlations between
the majority population and extrapolate how they
might index on the Hofstede Dimensions.
religion is a primary correlating factor with Hofstede's
Dimensions, we could look at another culture with a similar
religious background, in this case the Arab World with the
Muslim religion. The Arab World's scores are:
It appears from this that the primary difference between
Chinese and Muslims is Uncertainty Avoidance. If we look
at this Dimension we find that it identifies the culture's
acceptance or resistance to risk, or uncertainty. Therefore,
we could postulate that, when the Chinese immigrated to Indonesia,
they were less risk averse and more inclined to take chances
on establishing a variety of businesses.
there were likely other factors that also came into play.
The Chinese had a long history of commerce, going
back thousands of years. Their techniques would
likely have included negotiation tactics, supply control,
pricing, and capital
This background, particularly for the Chinese frontier's
person exploring new lands (Indonesia), had to be an asset
over the indigenous population.
the Chinese culture, as with many other long lived cultures,
tends to keep their 'dealings' inside. That is,
the real money making ventures are kept 'in the family' and
not shared with outsiders. This is a very productive way
to do business, but can also create, over time, a hostility
and resentment from the 'outsiders' in the population.
So in reflection, the dominance of Indonesian business by
Chinese-Indonesians is neither surprising nor unexpected.
It appears to be a combination of cultural tenets, business
experience, and capital management and control.
Questions on International Business and Geert Hofstede can
be sent directly
Executive Director of the International Business Center.
Taylor received his Masters of Arts Degree in International
Management Studies from the University of Texas at Dallas.
He has held executive management positions in international
development and marketing at leading global companies, including
Henkel, Unilever, and 3M.
the Success Trap: Negotiating for the Life You Really
Want and the Rewards You Deserve by Ed Brodow
it is Summer or Winter where you live, both seasons
are great for sitting back and reading an interesting book.
month we preview a new release from Harper Collins that
offers an interesting perspective on business and careers.
one of the chapters of the book, 'A New Perspective
on Failure' the author offers five
myths about failure: 1) Failure is the Opposite of Success,
2) If you fail at something, the only appropriate response
you can have is shame, 3) Success can only lead to more
success, failure to more failure, 4) If you're genuinely
good at something, you can't fail, 5) Failure is never
then details why each of these statements is not true
and explains why failure is not only necessary, but
a useful tool in creating our ultimate successes.
thrust of Brodow's book is that for many successful business
people, their 'success' does not translate into happiness,
contentment, or fulfillment. Rather, the more power and
wealth they acquire, the more frustrating their lives become.
those who feel they have been chasing after the wrong
goals in life, this book may offer insights and ideas
for solutions. You can read more at: Beat
the Success Trap
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