The role of trans-national corporations in globalisation

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Assess cultural context

It is important to determine the cultural context within which the international assignment will be functioning (Treven, 2001; Black et al, 1999). Trompenaars and Hampton-Turner (2004) found that the bigger the difference between the expatriate’s current culture and the culture in the host-country where the international assignment will be positioned, the bigger the cultural adjustment and subsequent cross-cultural communication and language skills required. These factors may have a significant impact on the selection criteria utilised and the final decision on the most suitable candidate.
Shin et al (2003) suggest that relationship dimensions such as cultural empathy and interpersonal skills become important when dealing with cultural differences. Their meta-analytic review indicated that better interpersonal skills were associated with greater adjustment to the general environment, particularly in cultures that place great importance on the social and interpersonal elements of the workplace.

Establish selection criteria

One of the most difficult and confusing issues in selecting an employee for an international assignment is determining the qualities that the candidate should possess in order to be successful (Gelfand et al, 2006; Nyfield et al, 1995).
On the one hand, Cascio and Aguinis (2005) assert that most international companies focus their efforts during their selection of candidates for expatriation solely on two criteria, namely technical competence and job knowledge. This finding is confirmed by literature indicating that technical competence is viewed as a crucial criterion for expatriate success by multinational companies, by host country-nationals, as well as by expatriates themselves (Suutari, 2003).
On the other hand, Harvey and Novicevic (2001) indicate that researchers have developed relatively long and confusing lists of critical factors to consider when selecting candidates for international assignments. An example in this regard would be the expatriate selection model proposed by Harris and Moran (as cited in Jordan & Cartwright, 1998), which includes 68 dimensions of overseas success, of which 21 dimensions are viewed “the most desirable”.
A definite concern in this regard would be that very few sufficiently comprehensive approaches could be identified during this literature study that incorporate all the various models. No agreement also seems to exist among researchers on the most important criteria to be utilised during the selection of candidates for expatriation. In his commentary to the confusion existing on the selection criteria to be used, Van Weerdenburg (2006) asserts:”…taking into account the amount of criteria available, it is not surprising that companies only focus on technical competence during their selection processes”. An example of the sometimes unrealistic selection criteria proposed by researchers would be the Jordan and Cartwright’s (1998) reference to Heller (1980) who is of the opinion that the successful expatriate should have “a flexible personality, with broad intellectual horizons, attitudinal values of cultural empathy, general friendliness, patience and prudence, impeccable educational and professional (or technical) credentials – all topped up with immaculate health, creative resourcefulness, and respect for peers. If the family is equally well endowed, all the better”.

Identify candidates from expatriate candidate pool

As mentioned earlier, one of the commonly used methods used by companies in identifying potential expatriates for overseas assignments is the so-called « coffee machine system », where expatriates get selected on an ad hoc basis without any formal process involved (Beaverstock, 2000). A consequence of this practice is that only those managers that a particular person happens to know are considered for international assignments. The consequences of making use of such a haphazard and “fire fighting approach” in selecting expatriates can be severe and very often lead to expatriate failure. To avoid the use of the “coffee machine system” in selecting individuals for international assignments, Black et al (1999) recommend the establishment of a pool of high-potential candidates, as well as the continued updating of a database containing details of the identified candidates. This database can then be utilised to identify the highest number of potential candidates to select from for a particular assignment. Beaverstock (2000) also recommends that the employees in the pool need to be reviewed on a regular basis to identify who is interested in and willing to go on an international assignment. This will allow the company to avoid reviewing candidates or making offers to candidates who are not available or not interested.


Chapter 1: General Introduction
1.1. Background to research project
1.2. Need for this research
1.3. Problem statement
1.4. Aim of this research
1.5. Layout of study
Chapter 2: Globalisation
2.1. Introduction
2.2. Globalisation defined
2.3. Globalisation of employment
2.4. The role of trans-national corporations in globalisation
2.5. The development of organisations in the global economy
2.6. Future trends of internationalisation
2.7. Summary
Chapter 3: Expatriates
3.1. Introduction
3.2. Expatriate defined
3.3. Duration of international assignments
3.4. Reasons for people becoming expatriates
3.5. Reasons for multinational companies making use of expatriates
3.6. Approaches to expatriate staffing
3.7. Factors that impact the choice of staffing approach
3.8. Expatriate failure
3.9. Summary
Chapter 4: Pre-departure preparation prior to international assignment
4.1. Introduction
4.2. Expatriate international career cycle
4.3. Pre-departure preparation prior to international assignment
4.4. Summary
Chapter 5: On international assignment
5.1. Introduction
5.2. Expatriate adjustment
5.4. Dimensions of culture shock
5.5. Factors influencing cross-cultural adjustment
5.6. Summary
Chapter 6: Repatriation
6.1. Introduction
6.2. The repatriation process
6.3. Reverse culture shock
6.4. Repatriate integration into home organisation
6.5. Conclusion
Chapter 7: Expatriate emotional adjustment
7.1. Introduction
7.2. Emotional health in an expatriate context
7.3. Emotional health defined
7.4. Salutogenesis as an alternative approach towards emotional health
7.5. Sense of coherence
7.6. Hardiness
7.7. Expatriate personality
7.8. Summary
Chapter 8: Research methodology
8.1. Introduction
8.2. Research hypotheses
8.3. Research design
8.4. Research sample
8.5. Scales of measurement
8.6. Variables measured during research
8.7. Statistics to be utilised during study
8.8. Statistical programme utilised
8.9. Summary
Chapter 9: Results
9.1. Introduction
9.2. Psychometric properties of measuring instruments
9.3. Clarification of variables
9.4. Distribution statistics for the different measurement scales
9.5. The influence of the expatriation process on the emotional health of the experimental and control groups before, during, and after assignment
9.6. Relationships among different variables (correlations)
9.7. Regression analysis
9.8. Summary
Chapter 10: Discussion
10.1. Introduction
10.2. Discussion of Objective 1:
Impact of expatriation process on emotional health
10.3. Discussion of Objective 2:
The relationship between expatriate personality traits and emotional adjustment
10.4. Discussion of Objective 3: The relationship between Climate
factors on expatriate emotional adjustment prior to departure and after six months on assignment
10.5. Discussion of Objective 4:
Interaction between expatriate personality and perception of the organisational climate while on international assignment
10.6. Discussion of Objective 5:
To investigate the main personality and organisational climate predictors of the expatriate’s levels of emotional health while on an international assignment in a foreign country.
10.7. Summary
Chapter 11: Conclusions and Recommendations
11.1. Introduction
11.2. Conclusions
11.3. Recommendations for further research and application
11.4. Summary
List of References


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