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When considering the ever-changing and highly competitive global landscape of business today, firms must stay at the cutting edge of their respective fields in order to sustain profitability in the long-term. With the current exponential growth of technology and the computerization of business and learning, consumers have become much more connected to the businesses they patronize (Kurzweil, 2001). Accordingly, companies are faced with the continuous task of finding new ways to understand and subsequently accommodate the needs of those customers, while simultaneously securing lucrative business models and job environments. In achieving these goals, it is critical for firms to seek out and obtain the most qualified and reliable human resources. Being that a large majority of such influential businesses operate on a worldwide scale, recruitment campaigns must be conducted with an equally comprehensive spectrum. This cumulative approach to seeking out the best and brightest typically involves the eventual expatriation of new employees and their families in order to best serve the needs of the organization. This aggressive type of employment technique has become increasingly necessary with more and more businesses beginning to rely quite heavily upon the highly educated and inventive minds of their labor force to carry them into a profitable future. Though it is critical for companies to realize that while and individual may be adequately qualified for a given position on paper, he or she may not be an ideal candidate for expatriation. Therefore, in order for a firm to ensure that it has the best possible set of working parts in the engine of the corporate car, they must have a sophisticated system in place to attract the best equipped individuals from across the globe. Moreover, expatriated employees must be made to feel comfortable and mentally healthy in their new cultural and operational surroundings. Knowing this, a structurally sound adjustment system must be put in place by the potential employer before attempting to recruit foreigners. Such systems should include cross-cultural competence training, a sensible repatriation plan, household logistics and community resource briefings . All of these aspects should aim to include the spouses and families of all potential expatriates. For some of the most recent literature has proven that one of the main factors in expatriation failures does not come from the expatriate himself/herself, but from his or her family members that have also been forced to relocate .
Knowing the essentiality of acquiring the most qualified human resources, companies must also be diligent in choosing the right candidates for expatriation. While an individual may be perfectly certified for a given work role, he or she (or his or her family members) may not be an ideal nominee for expatriation . When considering the multitude of transitional and transformational requirements placed on a potential expatriate and their family, this task can be extremely daunting. Moreover, such demands typically arise culturally, socially, economically and of course logistically. Thus with such a wide range of potential sources for failure, the necessity for the hiring company to be extremely diligent in the selection process becomes all the more profound. Many global business experts and firms that have been successful in expatriating workers agree that potential expatriates should ideally possess five key attributes. As history has shown, the most successful expatriate candidates have all been extroverted, independent, adventurous, culturally sensitive, and career motivated . In order to poise a company for triumph in the expatriation process, it is important to assiduously examine each of these recommended applicant traits.
Extroversion is extremely critical in selecting the proper person for an overseas position. Individuals possessing this quality have been shown to adapt to new cultures and work environments much faster than their introverted counterparts . This is usually because outgoing personalities are able to quickly and easily construct vital relationships with their fellow staff members and key stakeholders. This asset is extremely important, especially considering the collaborative nature of many globalized business operations. Without question, all upper managers must own this type of quality in order to achieve success, though this type of approach to work and life is even more crucial in an expatriated managerial employee. Shyness is certainly not an advantage in a foreign country when one must rely heavily upon the assistance of others.
Yet another key quality required of most all expatriation candidates is adventurousness. Though while this type of personal characteristic may not be as directly useful in the office environment, it is very important for the social and cultural adjustment process that occurs outside of the office. Adventurous individuals are those who are naturally interested in meeting new people and having new experiences. These types of interests typically correlate unswervingly into more adaptive behavior and greater levels of comfort in new offshore environments. Knowing the importance of this type of non-business quality, it is critical for expatriate employers to learn about the candidate's habits and hobbies outside of the office as well as their applicable credentials.
Individuals who are culturally sensitive also make great candidates for expatriation. Once again, this personal feature allows for a much more fluid transition for most parties. An applicant with a strong sense of ethnic awareness almost always adapts much easier to new cultural surroundings as compared to ethnically ignorant persons or families . Once again, noting the vast importance of the adaption process, employers must be able to accurately assess a potential expatriate's ethnic consciousness. By finding out about the person's ethnic background, as well as the levels of diversity in his or her previous work environments, hiring organizations can get a clearer idea of the individual's capacity to adapt to and truly embrace a new ethnic atmosphere.
Independence is yet another valuable asset that many successful expatriates possess. Being self-reliant has been shown to be extremely helpful for countless expatriates . And though these newcomers will undoubtedly require assistance in certain areas, higher levels of self-sufficiency typically correlate into greater levels of longevity and success. Individuals that are used to several layers of administrative support on a regular basis will have trouble replacing these numerous assistive mechanisms in their new workplaces. Furthermore, self-supporting individuals will be better able to deal with the absence of pre-established relaxation or recreation outlets in their new country. While the absence of friends (and even family in some cases) can be quite daunting, self-reliant individuals are better equipped to handle such stressful settings.
Lastly, candidates that are highly motivated by the advancement of their careers also make excellent expatriates. Many of these individuals truly believe that international experience is absolutely vital to the long-term success of their careers . This being the case, such applicants will be highly motivated and inspired to overcome any and all transitional obstacles that may stand in their way. Knowing that the vast majority of upper managerial positions are international in scope, candidates possessing this quality should not be difficult to come by. However, there are a large number of individuals that lack this type of motivation. Thus, corporate diligence is still required in accurately ascertaining the underlying reason why an individual may or may not volunteer for a position involving expatriation.
While all of the aforementioned recommendations primarily focus on the selection and recruitment processes for highly qualified single managerial candidates, the majority of these suggestions also apply to couples and families. However, there are several other important considerations that must be made when taking into account the needs of spouses and other family members. Networks of helpful resources and outlets should be made available to these trailing parties long before departure. Things like school options, household and finance logistics, and cross-cultural competence training should also be discussed at length before undertaking expatriation at the family or couple level . Being that family conflicts are one of the largest predictors of expatriation failure, all relevant parties should be actively involved throughout the entire expatriation process. For thorough preparation and education is the only feasible way to increase the likelihood of expatriation success at the family level.
Trailing spouses or families (that is, a single-career couple or family) must be adequately prepared for the extreme and immediate differences they will perceive when arriving in their new homes. Unlike their internationally employed spouses, other family members will not be chronically surrounded with coworkers who are helpful and sympathetic to their specific situation. Accordingly, resources must be made available to these persons, so that they can feel safe and easily able to embrace their new cultural surroundings. There are several resources like the Federation of American Women's Clubs Overseas, which has 65 chapters in more than 30 countries and helps people meet other expatriates from the United States (Fitzgerald-Turner, 2010). Other options include language training, support groups (like the Mothers English-Speaking Support Group, which is headquartered in Paris), and locally sponsored relocation and community services (like religious groups or community centers) (Fitzgerald-Turner, 2010). Children are also an important piece of the expatriation puzzle. In many cases, children's feelings on expatriating have been shown to directly carry over to trailing…[continue]
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