Cross-cultural training to facilitate expatriate adjustment: It works!

  • Waxin M
  • Panaccio A
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Abstract

Purpose – The paper examines what are the effects of the different types of cross-cultural training (CCT) on expatriates' adjustment and whether prior international experience (IE) and cultural distance (CD) have a moderator effect on the effectiveness of CCT. Design/methodology/approach – In a quantitative approach the paper examines the effect of four different types of CCT on the three facets of expatriates' adjustment, on a sample consisting of 54 French, 53 German, 60 Korean and 57 Scandinavian managers expatriated to India. The paper then examines the moderator effect of IE and of CD on CCT's effectiveness. Findings – CCT accelerates expatriates' adjustment. The type of CCT received matters. IE and CD have a moderator effect. Practical implications – Implications for practice are identified. Originality/value – The paper demonstrated the effectiveness of different kinds of CCT and the moderator effects of IE and CD. Introduction Corporations have a hard time recruiting candidates who are qualified for expatriation. The training they provide to employees and their families thus becomes crucially important. It is now widely accepted, by both academic researchers and human resources (HR) practitioners, that pre-move training and cross-cultural briefings can help expatriate staff adapt to living and working in new environments (Forster, 2000). However, the cross-cultural training provided by most multinationals is insufficient, incomplete or simply non-existent (Brewster, 1995; Waxin et al., 1997, Selmer, 2000). Because the objectives of such training are qualitative by nature, evaluating its effectiveness is difficult. Few authors have studied the effects of the different types of cross-cultural training on the different facets of expatriate adjustment, on a sample sufficiently large and while monitoring the cultural distance between the host county and the expatriates' country of origin, which is nevertheless one of the main variables of cross-cultural training models. Moreover, few authors have studied the optimal conditions of effectiveness of cross-cultural training. Waxin (2000, 2004) has shown that the country of origin had a moderator effect on adjustment and its antecedents. One could think that cultural distance also has a moderator effect on the effectiveness of cross-cultural training. Many researchers have shown that international experience facilitates cross-cultural adjustment. One could thus expect that expatriates with many years of international experience would be less dependent on cross-cultural training in order to adjust, and that cross-cultural training would be more effective for those with little or no prior international experience.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Country of origin
  • Cross-cultural management
  • Expatriates
  • Training

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Authors

  • Marie France Waxin

  • Alexandra Panaccio

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