The latter was to be measured against both high culture distance destinations and low culture distance destinations. The specific attributes being measured were extroversion, spouse support, job and community tenure and company relocation policy.
Different tests were used for each measure, which enhances the effectiveness of the survey because the questions reflected the type of answers that may be given. Such customization submits the paper to bias in the choice of measurement method. Because the four attributes being tested against one another were subject to different measurement techniques, it is more difficult to accurately compare these attributes against one another.
The first measure, that of the likelihood of respondents to accept postings in high culture difference countries vs. low culture difference countries, yielded definitive results. The respondents were far more likely to accept posts to low culture distance countries, although this result had a higher standard deviation compared to the likelihood of accepting posting to a high culture difference country.
It is worth considering how the survey specifically addressed the concept of culture difference. The question was worded vaguely -- "similar location" or "dissimilar location" -- leaving it subject to the interpretation of the respondent. The positive side to this is that there is no need to account for the different cultures represented by Singaporean nationals as they are free to determine for themselves what the terms mean. The negative side is that without specific examples -- or given the age of the respondents' significant international experience -- the results become less useful. While the support for the hypothesis is statistically robust, the free interpretation of the question reduces its usefulness because the survey is only measuring the perception of culture distance, not actual culture distance. For example, respondents may have a strong perception of cultural difference with a city such as Vancouver based on its physical difference and perceptions about Canada, yet the city has a fairly low cultural distance from Singapore for a non-Asian city. These differences between perceived and actual culture distance reduce the value of this part of the survey.
This quibble aside, the measures used in the article's survey generate useable data. The authors used a sufficiently large sample size, and they ran all of their results through regression analysis. The data proved sufficiently robust to draw conclusions with respect to the relative importance of the different factors. There were no further deficiencies identified through the regression analysis and interpretation of the data.
It is worth considering that the authors offered a limited choice of measures to the respondents. In the literature review, the others provided the academic basis for the inclusion of each category, but it is possible that other categories -- perhaps even more significant -- could have been identified and measured as well. If the others could not find an open-ended survey in the literature to distill the key measures to their chosen four, they could have conducted that research themselves prior to engaging in the research. That they did not shows their faith in the literature, but having also established that literature on the subject of the acceptance of overseas assignments is somewhat thin on the ground, the authors should have taken this shortcoming...
It is reasonable, however, that any one study will not include all of the variables. The issue is sufficiently complex, with competing variables, that such a survey may be only of limited use anyway.
4. The authors of this survey add some valuable insight to the existing body of literature on overseas assignment acceptance, in particular the accent they place on the Singapore market. The survey findings are somewhat convincing, though this assessment is guarded.
The research was relatively strong in its choice of measures. The measures were determined through examination of the literature. Although steps could have been taken to address the weaknesses in the literature, the authors had sufficient basis for including those measures in their survey. The results, therefore, have meaning. The authors of the article utilized the data that they gathered well in supporting their conclusions.
The main misgivings with regards to the value of the conclusions of this paper are with respect to the survey selection process. The authors appeared to take a short-cut in the process by focusing their survey efforts on a very limited geographic area, with no attempt made to adjust the demographic profile of the respondent group to better fit that of the target population.
That the demographics of the survey respondents differ dramatically from the demographics of the target population is cause for concern, and it calls into question the validity of the findings. The survey's authors admit as much in the concluding remarks of the paper. They do not, however, admit this during the abstract or at any point prior to the conclusion.
The survey represents a starting point. It provides a framework for future study of the issue in general, and for Singaporeans specifically. Several future research directions are evident from the conclusion and the methodological shortcomings in this paper. The conclusions are reasonable, but the survey selection issues reduce their relevance.
As a result, the overall conclusion of the paper is only partially convincing. Certainly, it can be applied to the demographics that the survey actually measured, but it is a stretch to suggest that these findings can be extrapolated beyond that demographic. The paper's conclusion, had it been framed in the context of the specific demographic that received the bulk of attention in this survey, would have been more powerful. It is only through the flaw in the survey selection technique that the conclusion becomes at least somewhat unconvincing. With further research, however, these findings may well hold up, but that will be determined at a later date.
Wan, D., Hui, T. & Tiang, L. (2002). Factors affecting Singaporeans' acceptance of international postings. Personnel Review. Vol. 32,6, 711-732.
No author. (2009). Literature Review. University of Toronto. Retrieved November 27, 2009 from http://www.engineering.utoronto.ca/about/programs/communication/Online_Handbook/Components_of_Documents/Literature_Review.htm
No author. (2009). Selection of a sample. Statistics Canada. Retrieved November 27, 2009 from http://www.statcan.gc.ca/edu/power-pouvoir/ch13/sample-echantillon/5214900-eng.htm
No author. (2009). Population Trends 2009. Singapore Department of Statistics. Retrieved November 27, 2009 from http://www.singstat.gov.sg/pubn/popn/population2009.pdf
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