However, the expatriate has the net advantage of significantly superior product knowledge and control, even if the costs of maintaining him are also higher. Foremost, the expatriate must be able to travel from the host country to the home country in order to conduct face-to-face meetings with his superiors and inform them of the progresses made. Traveling however consumes time and energy and the employee could become tired and unfocused. The need for a strong mind with high motivation and concentration skills becomes as such obvious (Honeycutt, Ford and Simintiras). Also, there is a strong need for the individual to be extremely well adjusted and capable to integrate within the new community. This is most important when "historically, multinational firms have been plagued by the problem of premature return of expatriate managers due to their inability to adapt to the culture of the host country" (Katz and Seifer, 1996). A study conducted in 1981 revealed that an astonishing 50% of the relocated managers return to the home country within the first year. Their failure to integrate in the new environment generates major costs upon the corporation, ergo, the true responsibility, importance and role of the expatriate sales person (Tung, 1981).
There have been promoted three primary reasons why the expatriated managers have failed. These reasons for failure are important to be mentioned as they in fact represent the absolutely compulsory skills of the expatriate, alongside with the role he plays in the international expansion of the company's operations. They are as follows:
1) Inability to adapt rapidly to a different culture;
2) Personality or emotional characteristics; and 3) Inability to cope with the complexity of work responsibilities posed by the overseas assignment" (Katz and Seifer, 1996)
At a first consideration of the sales representatives to be expatriated, the management has to look for the following skills:
self-orientation - in order for the employee to view the assignment with excitement and be motivated by it, he must show signs of self-preservation, enjoyment and strong mental health others-orientation - in order to best relate to the new subordinates and colleagues in the foreign country, the employee will have to care for others and be willing to help and socialize with them perceptual dimension - to best react and respond to the behaviors in the host country, the employee must be open minded and understanding;
cultural toughness - an open mind and a desire to learn more about the cultural identities of the host country will ensure that the expatriate gains sufficient knowledge of the cultural features of the new market and he is as such able to integrate the information in a manner that will benefit the organization (Katz and Seifer, 1996)
Yet another important role played by the expatriate sales person is given by his abilities to develop the product. In other words, since the product of the company will be launched onto a new and foreign market, it is quite probable that it would have to suffer some modifications as to best address the new audience, which will most likely be driven by different needs and wants. Given that the sales person will operate on the foreign market, he will be the most capable to identify these needs and wants and communicate them to his superiors in the home country. They will operate the changes and reintroduce the improved product onto the market.
The expatriated employee will also be the most capable person to make the promotional decisions as he will know how to appeal to the good sense of the customers. For instance, a fast food company opened in India will not sell burgers made of beef as the delegated manager will know that Indians hold the cow sacred. The delegated employee will also have to analyze the foreign industry and review the strategies implemented by the competition. He would use benchmarking techniques and he would apply his knowledge to sustain the company in increasing its value and gaining more market share. He could also suggest a new location for the company store or any other strategies he might see fit to increase the number of customers or their satisfaction. He could for instance learn the foreign language and communicate directly with the customers as to get information on what they liked and disliked about the company's products and services.
In implementing all of his ideas, the expatriate sales person will be supported by the company, in terms of both technical and financial support. The ultimate responsibility however, for the international success of the company's new venture, lies entirely of the shoulders of the expatriated employee. That is why the role of the expatriated employee weights more that the role of his domestic counterparts.
Given the still large numbers of expatriate employees who fail to integrate within the new community, but also the immense role they play in achieving corporate success at international levels, the company officials should clearly select the staff to be delegated. Once they are chosen, they should be offered training programs on the tasks they will be handling, but also on cultural integration. They should be taught about the ways of the country, the history and the language. Foremost, the family of the expatriate should also participate.
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