Pre-departure the expatriates should be provided with pre-departure

Pre-departure Training

In addition to cultural awareness training, the expatriates
should be provided with pre-departure training, including didactic, language,
experiential and cognitive behaviour modification training. Pre-departure CCT
aims to prepare expatriates for their assignment by developing their awareness
of the differences between their home country and host country, and where
possible, preparing them for such differences. Mansour and Wood 2009:384,
citing Hodgetts and Luthans (2000) noted that studies suggest “the
differences between the parent country’s culture and the host country’s culture
dictate the effort required for training, with greater effort required for
greater differences”. In some Middle Eastern countries, such as the United
Arab Emirates (UAE), there is a large expatriate presence which can lessen the
need for pre-departure training. A study by Harrison and Michailova (2012:625)
found that western female expatriates working in the UAE “did not find
lengthy rigorous CCT critical to their assignments”, and in instead saw
such training as “unjustified cost” as they rarely interacted with
host nationals. This is worth taking into consideration when sending UK
expatriates to the Middle East, however it’s also important to remember that
expatriates working in the hospitality industry are more likely to encounter
daily interactions with host and third country nationals.

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Pre-departure training can increase the expatriates’
“level of accuracy of perceptions towards the target culture, with
beneficial consequences for both adjustment and performance” (Reiche, Lee
and Quintanilla, 2013:5). The level of accuracy of their perceptions however
relies on the accuracy of the information provided to the expatriates in the
training. If the expatriates are provided with inaccurate or biased
information, there is risk of negative consequences to adjustment and
performance. Inaccurate or biased information may not be intentional, for
example Mamman (2017:10) notes how trainer’s “explanations and descriptions
can be influenced by their own background”.

Although it is important for organisations to provide
expatriates with pre-departure training, there is a lack of evidence as to its
effectiveness. Puck et al. (2008:2183) note that “while some studies have
found positive influences of pre-departure CCT on expatriate adjustment…
other researchers observed no influence, or indeed a negative impact of CCT on
adjustment”. We’ll now critically analyse didactic, language, experiential
and cognitive behavioural modification training in turn. Similar to with
cultural awareness training, organisations should consider extending the below
training to partners of expatriates.

Didactic Training

Didactic training involves sharing information which will
impact the expatriate’s day to day experience, such as information on working
conditions, living conditions and cultural differences (Littrell and Salas,
2005:312). This information is vital in providing expatriates with an
understanding of what they can expect to help minimize the cultural shock they
experience. Organisations need to be careful however not to wait until didactic
training to share critical information with the expatriates. For example, if
unmarried couples cannot live together in the assignment location, the
expatriate should be made aware of this early in the process as they may intend
on living with their partner outside of marriage. Providing this information to
the expatriates early reduces the risk of expatriates deciding the assignment
is unsuitable for them close to the departure date.

Considering the group of male and female expatriates that
will be taking up an international assignment in hospitality in the Middle
East, there are significant differences between their home and host location
working conditions, living conditions and cultural differences, which they should
be informed of. Depending on the specific location of their assignment, some of
the information which may be shared with them may include that when dining,
women and men may be asked to dine separately and that alcohol is usually not
available. This information would be significant to expatriates working in
events management.

Additionally, in relation to dress code, in Saudi Arabia
women must wear an abayas (full length black robe) when in public places where
they interact with men. Men also sometimes have to adhere to a dress code.
Providing expatriates with such information helps to set their expectations.
Konanahalli et al. (2012:46) noted how some of the men in their study
“expressed their initial cultural shock when they had to… adhere to a
dress code for men”.

Didactic training is important as it can also be used to
inform expatriates about the legal and political aspects of the region. In the
Middle East, Islam is the majority religion and the legal system in most
countries is based on Islamic law. Islamic law, or Sharia law, has
significantly impacted the culture in the Middle East and still to this day
plays a dominant role in the legal system in countries such as Saudi Arabia,
Iran and Sudan. Konanahalli et al. (2012:46) note how prior awareness of the
social and political situations is “necessary to be able to make accurate
anticipatory adjustments and to develop a realistic picture of the host
country.

Didactic training is absolutely necessary for expatriates.
Whether the information be provided to them in an instructor-led class, or
one-on-one, it is critical that the expatriate knows what they can expect in
advance of being sent of their assignment. Organisations should be cautious
about how the information is delivered as it should not cause anxiety from
information overload. Organisations should also encourage their expatriates to
do additional research as didactic training is unlikely to be exhaustive.

Language Training

Language training helps expatriates to build their foreign
language skills and hence facilitates their interactions while on assignment.
The assignment location and role of the expatriate will influence what and how
much language training is required. Littrell and Salas (2005:311) identified
that for expatriates who will be immersed in foreign speaking countries,
language training is “crucial for intercultural adjustment”. 

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