The trainer will then focus on the steps to be taken to develop new skills. For example, if the trainer wants to talk about motivating, leading, negotiating, selling or speaking, it is best to start with what the learners do well before showing some chart on Maslow's theory, Posner's leadership practices, or selling skills from some standard package that has been develop elsewhere. Many foreign trainers make grave errors because they do not consider the values and beliefs of the trainee's culture. Training must make a fit with the culture of those being trained, including the material being taught, as well as the methods being used (Schermerhorn, 1994).
Abu-Doleh (1996) reports that Al-Faleh (1987), in his study of the culture influences on management development, asserts that "a country's culture has a great influence on the individual and managerial climate, on organizational behaviour, and ultimately on the types of management development programmes offered." Furthermore, he argues that culture has its roots in a long history of traditions, in religion, and in past and present philosophical, or economic ideology.
Alabdlohab (1987) indicates that cultural factors cannot be ignored in training programmes. To ignore these factors can make the difference between success and failure. Although Arab countries want to develop economically and modernise their cities, most do not such progress to have a negative effect on their culture and way of life that they have lived for hundreds of years. Managers and workers should not be forced to conform to Western way of doing business even though they may have to deal with them perhaps on a daily basis. The first step in developing training programmes is understanding the culture and those factors within the culture that have an influence on the life and work of the people. The second step is to recognize the fact that these countries are in the process of economic development and modernization, and that these are to be achieved without changing the culture or significantly changing the way of their daily life. Culture values, religion, tribal customs, and tradition, all play a major role not on a daily life but also in the way which business is conducted. The third step is the designing of training programmes that will not compromise these values while at the same time, assist people in the development of business and industry that will promote economic growth and development within the country and give it a greater participation in the international marketplace.
The link between learning styles and training
Learning is considered to make an attempt of creating a memory that lasts. For example, if you have to learn some dance steps or any foreign language, your brain requires storing some information. In other words, learning takes place when a person studies and acquires knowledge or any other skill, as mentioned in the English Oxford Dictionary. Our learning depends on the type of learning style we have. There is no end for learning. It takes place on a daily basis. However, people practising to learn at personal level enjoy having increased self-confidence and knowledge. Moreover, your sense of world and how things are being worked out is widened even more. Learning makes you understand the ambitions you have in your life, for example, gaining a foundation degree.
There is a prominent difference between learning at personal and professional level. Our learning can be reflected through many ways. These ways include attending the staff meetings or appraisals. However, in order to increase your learning or to have a better understanding, one can attend training courses. As a result, a person's professional knowledge and skills are enhanced.
Every person follows a different learning style. It is now quite acceptable that everyone doesn't feel comfortable with a same style of learning. However, if one tries to learn and understand our learning style, it results in effective learning. So, the basic point behind the theory of learning is that every person adopts a different style of learning. This is why learning can never be defined through a single way of learning. Therefore, learning can be defined as unique behaviour that indicates how an individual learns as well as adjust to his/her environment, and offer signs as to how an individual's mind function (Gregorc, 1979).
Some people learn through reading or listening. On the other hand, some people might learn through their personal experiences. An extensive research has been carried out on these different styles of learning, along with many theories as well (Honey and Mumford, 1992; Kolb, 1984). It accepted everywhere that all individuals adopt different styles of learning or absorbing data or information.
In the same way, it is also accepted that all these differences are considered to be significant and have different consequences on the success of people. Allinson and Haynes (1988) have highlighted that a person's educational attainment completely depends on the style of learning he or she has adopted. On the other hand, Honey and Mumford (1992) describe learning in these words: "a description of the attitudes and behaviour which determine an individual's preferred way of learning."
Kolb (1984) has described learning as "The process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience." The concept of learning described by Kolb is related to the theory of experiential learning. This theory, as stated by him, serves as a foundation of acquiring education, being a process that lasts for a lifetime. Also, this process of learning is based on social psychology, philosophy and cognitive psychology (Kolb, 1984). This raises another argument of experiential learning theory being a basis of the idea of adult learning being grounded in reality (Sadler-Smith and Smith, 2004).
On the other hand, according to Honey and Mumford, people have always adopted different styles of learning according to different situations they face and how much experienced they have. As a result, they end up experiencing the four modes of learning. When looking deep into experimental learning theories of Kolb, it was found that at least four learning styles and modules exist. First is active experimenting, which involves energetic learners. Second approach is based on observation, like reflective thinking; whereas, third is abstract conceptualization involving pure theoretical exercises. The fourth learning style is concrete experience involving experimenting fresh theories.
As per this learning theory, it was found that it was more like a cycle, where a person goes through the sense of feeling, observation, thinking exercises and practice as the following diagram shows. It cannot be said that a given part of learning cycle is more important or effective than the other as all of them are equally important and effective at its respective place (Sadler-Smith & Smith, 2004).
To identify the respective learning style of an individual, Kolb came up with the idea of Learning Styles Inventory in 1976. In this exercise, participants are asked to come up with answers to 12 complete sentences that describe their learning pattern. To identify their respective style, all of these 12 sentences have four possible option; which describe a particular scenario. The respondent is required to come up with the most suitable click on the option, describing his learning pattern.
Multinationals are training their employees and managers to become more effective communicators and leaders. In order to achieve their objective they hire trainers to deliver training sessions. Trainers are expected to deliver the same contents across cultures and obtain the same results. As reality shows that this does not happen, and for the same training with the same trainer some participants will have reactions that are opposite to others', it is necessary to identify cultural differences in how people learn, and what training stimuli are more effective in one culture as opposed to another and why. While there is extensive research in the field of learning styles and the field of cultural differences, there is a gap in the identification of culturally-based preferences in training stimuli. Also, research tends to be more focused on the school and university setting while there is a lack of empirical knowledge of the corporate learning needs. To focus this research on specific cultures, American and French learners in the corporate setting will be the subjects.
Research on cultural differences (Hofstede, 1980), reveals that the American and French cultures differ on most dimensions. Dimensions refer to how people respond to hierarchy, communication styles, uncertainty, vision, rules and values. American and French adult learners in a corporate training setting do not learn in the same way and react differently to what they are asked to do in their work environment. For example, while Americans will perform role plays and try skills learned in their work place following the advice of trainers, the French will be reluctant to do role plays feeling silly and will not feel comfortable practicing communication skills such as paraphrasing in their work place fearing to sound awkward. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to draw a cultural profile of French…