A study on the effectiveness of the orientation process and cross-cultural training for the expatriate.
Over the years, a number of studies have identified the failure of expatriates - the early termination of an international assignment - as a major problem for multinational enterprises (MNE). MNE's in, for example the USA, have reported expatriate failure rates as high as 40 percent for assignments to developed countries and 70 percent when assignments are in developing countries. These failures can cost the MNE three times the expatriates' annual salary plus the cost of the relocation. Even if an expatriate stays the full duration of an international assignment it has been determined that many, as much as 50 percent, operate at less than optimal levels of productivity. International studies have, however shown that if expatriates are properly prepared, supported and trained, the success of their assignment can be ensured. The presented study focuses on the effectiveness of the orientation process and crosscultural training (CCT) and its impact on cross-cultural adjustment for the expatriate. The objective of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of the orientation process for expatriates and to determine a need for a separate orientation and culture training. By improving the orientation process and identifying a need for culture specific training, the company can thus eliminate relocation and replacement costs. A further objective of this research is to design a guideline for the implementation of a culture specific orientation process for the expatriate. This will be done based on the recommendations made by the candidates questioned. In order to determine the preparation and training needs of expatriates this formal study was undertaken, consisting of a literature study as well as an empirical study. At first a literature study was conducted in order to determine what was happening internationally in respect to expatriation and expatriation preparation and training. The background of the study reviews what has been written and said in the areas of cross-cultural training, cross-cultural adjustment, the orientation process and the expatriate. The study highlights specific issues regarding cultural training, assignment failure and success, and the expatriate experience. The research is motivated by the need to reduce assignment failure and the subsequent costs associated with expatriation, and ensure smooth transition into a new culture. The research methodology utilized was qualitative, based on e-mailed questionnaires and personal interviews. The study attempts to recommend, based on the findings, a culture centred orientation process for the expatriate.