As can be seen from the books by Cateora and Graham and Wild, Wild, and Han, expatriate management tends to be described from dangers and issues rather than its positive elements. Such an approach is understandable and maybe wise, but a few words should be written about the advantages of expatriate work that make it attractive for managers and personally for me.
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An expatriate is simply someone “living away from his or her own country” (Cateora and Graham 591). In the case of expatriate management, residing in the other country is concerned with performing a management assignment there. Examples of such experiences are described in the article by Mohn that was chosen for this case study due to its unusually positive perspective on the matter. It should be noted that the type of expatriate work described there is the so-called “talent swap” that is a relatively short-term and, therefore, less costly and arguably less stressful task (Mohn par. 5).
Still, the benefits, which the participants enumerate, appear to be universally applicable. The article describes several cases. Giuliano Barolo from Mumbai and Swati Tribedy from Mozzanica, Italy have both been working at Dow Chemical, and their positions are both concerned with the technical processes, but with their different aspects. Since the beginning of April they literally “swapped” their places for a short-term expatriate experience (Mohn par. 1-5). Karen Jung and Marie-Claire Delpin, who work for PwC, did the same in February, and Alex Hoffmann from Paypal in Luxembourg swapped places with a colleague from Paris.
From the article and the participants’ comments, three reasons to pursue the career of an expatriate manager can be selected. First of all, it is a chance to gain professional experience and knowledge in a different field, as Tribedy, Jung, Delpin, and Hoffmann suggest. Secondly, it is an opportunity to receive and practice related skills as Hoffmann’s colleague insists: for example, he chose to swap specifically to enhance his strategic skills. Thirdly, this kind of experience provides new opportunities for career growth: having gained the experience, skills, and knowledge, employees increase their “value” and may receive a promotion. Such were the cases of Hoffmann and his colleague (Mohn par. 25-26). In my opinion, all these reasons separately and combined are worth volunteering for an experience.
Apart from that, the study of the cases provides insights into the benefits of working as an expatriate manager. One of them is the increased connection with overseas colleagues that was noted by Ms. Delpin. In this respect, an expatriate assignment can be considered a unique opportunity of improving the relationships between different parts of an organization. Secondly, Tribedy Jung and Delpin mentioned the benefit of learning another culture and breaking the stereotypes stemming from the lack of such knowledge. In my opinion, this is a key personal benefit of expatriate management experience.
Naturally, I realize that there is a chance of culture shock as described by Wild, Wild, and Han, but I consider myself to be open-minded and adaptive (451-454). Also, as demonstrated by the authors, even culture shock, unpleasant as it may be, does not necessarily prevent a person from adapting to the culture and completing the assignment successfully; in fact, it can be considered a part of adaptation in some of the cases. As for the third benefit, the fact of leaving the comfort zone and taking up a challenging task can be considered as one. Therefore, an expatriate assignment is an experience that does not only contribute to one’s professional growth but also has the potential of ensuring personal development. In other words, expatriate management is a comprehensive experience with multiple benefits that make it a very attractive option.
Cateora, Philip R., and John L. Graham. International Marketing. 14th ed. 2008. Boston, Massachusetts: McGrawHill/Irvin. Print.
Mohn, Tanya. “Across Borders, Talent Swaps Help Develop Skills and Careers.” The New York Times. 2015. Web.
Wild, John, Kenneth Wild, and Jerry Han. International Business. 3rd ed. 2007. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education. Print.