The Relations between Expatriate Management and the Mentality and Adjustment of Expatriates

Article excerpt

Expatriation refers to foreign job assignment for a certain period of time. Expatriates play an important role in the business operation, and are an expensive human resource. However, there are management problems inherent in employing expatriates and there appears to be less understanding of these problems than there is of the problems of managing domestic staff. The people on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait speak the same language and are the same race. Yet, problems arise with the use of expatriates, including: selection, training, adjustment, and repatriation.

In the past, many employees were not willing to accept an assignment to work in mainland China. Because of the rapid growth of China's economy, some people choose to work in China for an extended period of time, and others actively seek expatriation to China. Consequently, many Taiwanese enterprises are facing the challenge of carrying out expatriation to China.

With the increasing growth of China's economy, the business activities of the two countries are constantly expanding. The present business environment of Taiwan includes an increase in the average number of years of formal schooling, a gradual industrial outward move, and fierce competition for employment. Hence, if an individual hopes for development in his career, it is not recommended that he focus just on Taiwan, but instead that he should consider places with more opportunities for development, such as China. In the situation of fierce competition, it is inevitable that industry will expand, and so the burgeoning market in China is providing opportunities for the development of individuals and enterprises in Taiwan.

At present, the number of Taiwanese expatriates who work in mainland China throughout the year is around 1 million. Thus, the relations between expatriate management and the mentality and adjustment of expatriates of multinational companies with Taiwanese investment in mainland China are worth studying both from the viewpoint of individuals and their corporate employers.


The Expatriate Management of Multinationals

The separation of global markets is becoming less clear, and the influence of multinationals on the world economy is becoming bigger and bigger. As the domain of multinationals continues to expand, the role which expatriates play becomes more important. Kraimer, Wayne, and Jaworski (2001) held that the factors which have the greatest impact on the success of an international assignment include staff selection for expatriation, training for expatriates, costs of expatriates, repatriation of expatriates, and motivation and performance evaluation of expatriates.

Staff selection is the process of evaluating and deciding who should be employed in particular expatriate jobs. Forster (1997) held that expatriate failure is defined not only as the premature return of an expatriate, but extends to include underperformance and retention upon completion of the assignment. Expatriate failure causes a high level of loss to the employer and may result in loss of market share or hurt the reputation of a company. Therefore, how to select suitable employees for expatriate positions is a critical issue for a multinational business. Feldman, Doerpinghaus, and Turnley (1994) thought multinational businesses should consider two employee aspects, general qualification and business knowledge, for their staff selection for expatriation.

Naumann (1992) found that the need for training and development for expatriates starts as soon as selection has been made and that effective training should involve three stages: predeparture training, training during the assignment, and preparation for repatriation. The predeparture training is the most important for expatriates. Enterprises should consider the length of international assignments, the nature and type of the job, the degree of interaction with the host country, and then offer different levels of cross-cultural training to expatriates. …