The critical HR actions multinational corporations should take to facilitate expatriate adjustment

Term Paper, 2011

13 Pages, Grade: 80% (1,0)


List of contents

1. Introduction

2. Major reasons of expatriate adjustment

3. Cultural adjustment
3.1 Hofstede’s five dimensions
3.2 Implications to facilitate expatriate adjustment in the work place

4. Conclusion

5. Bibliography
5.1 Literature References
5.2 Internet References

6. Appendices
6.1 Appendix 1
6.2 Appendix 2
6.3 Appendix 3
6.4 Appendix 4

1. Introduction

The process of globalisation of business stimulates the mobility of employees and necessitates the Human Resource Management of multinational corporations (MNC) to deal with given cultural conditions of particular countries in order to assess and evaluate their characteristics and value systems. On this basis, a common value orientated corporate culture might be developed which gives an MNC orientation and hence the basis for business success (IBM, 2011).

In principle, political and economic characteristics across the globe are structured in terms of the Anglo-American and Rhineland capitalism (Michel Albert, 1991). Cultural differences can be measured on a global, regional, national and organisational level (Edwards and Ress, 2006) and can be distinguished in “Linear-Active-Multi-Active” societies such as e.g. Latin America that is flexible in terms of management rules and “Dialogue-Orientated-Data-Orientated societies” such as e.g. Germany that is more linear orientated focusing on e.g. punctuality (Lewis, 1999). Mostly, the cause for failure in cross-cultural businesses is not the dissimilarity of partners but the lacking understanding for the adverse culture (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner, 1997). The greater the cultural distance however, the more there is a need for parent country national control. Therefore, relevant actions of the International Human Resource Management (IHRM) include having the awareness and knowledge of the diverse cultural differences, supporting assignees in this sense and analysing the difficulties of intercultural interaction within the corporation in order to minimize barriers to collaboration (Holtbrügge, 2008).

The subsequent study will critically look into the subject of the IHRM with focus on expatriate adjustment. Beginning with an explanation of the basics and major reasons of expatriate adjustment, the study analyses the cultural dimensions that might influence this challenge. Subsequently the study discusses the actions of the IHRM concerning deployment and suggests measures how expatriate adjustment in MNCs might be facilitated.

2. Major reasons of expatriate adjustment

Particularly, in the construction phase of foreign subsidiaries, MNCs likely delegate managers of the parent company abroad in order to manage and control the foreign subsidiary and to ensure the transfer of the parent company’s organizational culture. Furthermore, the compensation of the absent indigenous skills and knowledge but also the compositions of international management teams that are insertable globally are further motives of international personnel policy (Holtbrügge, 2008).

3. Cultural adjustment

3.1. Hofstede’s five dimensions

The IHRM’s task is to be aware of the diverse differences in culture that can be classified in terms of five dimensions focusing on the “nation state” (Hollinshead, 2010) and having significant influence on management practices in MNCs. The awareness is particularly relevant for the deployment of expatriates as well as the work within intercultural teams. Expatriates from countries with little “power distance” (Hofstede, 2003) such as e.g. the Netherlands will probably execute a more pari passu leadership style.

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Table follows: Hofstede and Hofstede, (2005)

incorporates a much higher power distance expect briefings and abide to instructions, which is why managers executing a more liberal leadership style might have difficulties for acceptance. The dimension of “individualism versus collectivism” (Hofstede, 2003) is of significant importance especially concerning the corporate management.

Management teams from e.g. the US, individually-oriented where mission has antecedence over relationships might have difficulties to implement performance- related management practices into a more collectivist-oriented business culture. Furthermore, managers in “masculine” (Hofstede, 2003) shaped organisations are used to assert themselves, results count and performance is rewarded. They follow the principle of “let the best man win” whereas feminin-oriented organisations follow the principle of “equality” (Hofstede, 2003). Hence, masculine-oriented managers might be seen as workaholics as the working morale is “live to work” in comparison to “work to live” (Hofstede, 2003). Moreover, the IHRM from countries with high “uncertainty avoidance” (Hofstede, 2003) such as e.g. France usually clearly defines the expatriate’s job-role which might reduce the expatriate’s job-related uncertainty and might help the assignee to better integrate within a new business environment in contrast to low uncertainty avoidance business cultures practised in e.g. Sweden. Furthermore, “long-term” (Hofstede, 2003) oriented Chinese managers often do not understand why “short-term” (Hofstede, 2003) oriented western managers with focus on rapid achievement of objectives do not take sufficient time to establish long lasting business relationships. Facts, that are important for Chinese seem to be a waste of time for western managers, which might lead to challenging business negotiations.

3.2 Implications to facilitate expatriate adjustment in the work place

Due to the cultural dimensions, the IHRM is confronted with two major activities in terms of expatriate adjustment. The “comparative” activity means having the specific knowledge required concerning the host country’s culture and characteristics in terms of the economic, social and political environment but also concerning employment and HR practices (Hollinshead G., 2010). The “international” activity includes formulating the HR policy involving expatriate selection, training, managing the expatriats careers, formulating international team working and cross-cultural management standards (Hollinshead G., 2010)

Often parent country nationals experience a “culture shock” during the cultural adjustment process that distinguishes between the “Tourist phase”, the “Crisis phase”, the “Pulling up phase” and the final “Adjustment phase” (Dowling et al., 2008).


Excerpt out of 13 pages


The critical HR actions multinational corporations should take to facilitate expatriate adjustment
University of Exeter  (Business School)
80% (1,0)
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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human resources, expatriate adjustment, cultural differences, cross cultural business, multinational corporations, Hofstede
Quote paper
Corinna Jung (Author), 2011, The critical HR actions multinational corporations should take to facilitate expatriate adjustment, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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