Expat hiring: Cultural integration still creates huge gap
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Expat hiring: Cultural integration still creates huge gap

By SiliconIndia   |   Friday, 28 May 2010, 03:21 Hrs   |    8 Comments
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Expat hiring: Cultural integration still creates huge gap
Bangalore: As the companies pursue global aspiration and scale up operations in the booming local economy, they considering value in looking beyond borders for top talents. However, the gap in the mindset of the expat leaders and the local employees creates troubles in business operations, according to a report by Arati Menon Carroll of Economic Times.

In India, the first wave of expatriates came in with the rise of sectors like airlines, healthcare and retail. MNCs operating in India have usually been the expatriate CXOs in rotation. But the Indian promoter-led firms on the other hand, except groups like Tata and Aditya Birla that have been making steady effort in this direction for a few years now, have been practically devoid of expatriate leadership.

The local workforce always grumbles about the work culture of expat mangers and at times the grumble leads to a situation when the both couldn't see eye to eye. Another key challenge for expatriates is adjusting to a heavily promoter driven environment. With the larger business groups that are increasingly governance led, it's less of an issue but with smaller Indian businesses, they struggle with putting promoter over boss.

For many business groups the requirement for expatriates has gone from technical jobs to larger strategic roles. "As we develop a global vision we want people who have internationally acknowledged credibility to lead our businesses," said Adil Malia, President, Group HR, Essar. The company recently appointed Alwyn Bowden as CEO of its Projects Business Group.

Corporates insist it is not about having the trophy CEOs to present a global face to the world, although they admit an expatriate's exclusive networks do come in handy. "It's about creating competitive advantage, whether it's in specialized knowledge, governance practices or experience of running large multinationals," said Malia.

The good news for expat leaders is that companies are setting induction processes in place to settle families, providing them with social mentoring and platforms for social engagement.

Certainly, even with the initial handholding, problems can arise later from ineffective engagement. While most expatriates stick to a three year contract, many believe this short term mindset should belong to an MNC. When the time value of an expat is perceived to be "short", long term relationships become harder.

Besides, challenges aside, India offers the expats a lot of jobs.

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Reader's comments(8)
1: In the USA when a reasident moves to a new area it takes them 5 years to adjust to the new place and that same 5 years for trust to be gained. How on earth could people from all over the world be expected to adjust in only 3 years? The other question then is would someone be willing and able to take a 5 year contract. Maybe 5 years would be too much for them. With that in mind the handholding should be effective, detailed, only pertinent information presented, and a cellphone number available for quick answers. I'd also be wondering why it would concern families and not just the worker as an individual.
Posted by:Christie Fox - 28 May, 2010

By changing their attitude and personal leadership style. This http://nyti.ms/9a8r1I is an article that looks at the new “hybrid leader.” Aspects of leaders that combine old and new, hard and soft, formal and informal, etc. Leaders such as Barack Obama, Carlos Ghosn (Nissan-Renault) and Indra Nooyi (CEO PepsiCo) are embodiments of this new “emergent” style of leader. The qualities named of these new leaders are:

- Listen zealously
- Seek the universal
- Vary your cadences
- Be radically pragmatic
- Know your truths
- Think both/and

All good advice, and also good qualities of anyone operating in intercultural environments.

Read more here: http://srleosalazar.wordpress.com/2010/05/15/new-leaders-find-strength-in-diversity/
Leo Salazar Replied to: Christie Fox - 31 May, 2010
It makes all the sense in the world to also include families. The US Army did groundbreaking research which led to a major policy shift in the 1980's in their treatment of the families of their expat soldiers stationed abroad. Their focus from exclusively on the soldier and his/her preparedness now shifted to include the partner and children of the soldier. If the soldier was single, they also provided social support off the job. "A happy home life makes a happy soldier" was the new motto.

This policy change paid off enormously in higher retention rates, lower rates of stress, and fewer costs associated with assignment termination and early relocation. This practice has been adopted by most corporations worldwide.
Leo Salazar Replied to: Christie Fox - 31 May, 2010
4: bloody @ssh0les, eat more than what they can chew!
Posted by:sri - 27 May, 2010
5: Some of the MNC like Korean Companies in Construction is also trying to harass Indian staffs becoz their management are Korean.
Posted by:Peeyush Maheshwari - 27 May, 2010
6: such issues are bound to occur if its not handled with care.
Posted by:Nahara Sunako - 27 May, 2010
Fundamental challenge for expat driven leadership is understanding the local market space and cross cultural work environment. Many of expats miss on "Think Global work Local" funda. Cost implications in hiring/IJP is very high compared to Indian counterpart. Average tenure of an expat is around 2-3 years which is too lesser time to enhance the value of business. mean objective of a leader at that level is to create value for stakeholders and able to inspire them.
Rajesh Verma Replied to: Nahara Sunako - 27 May, 2010
Its Main objective perhaps...
Rajesh Verma Replied to: Rajesh Verma - 27 May, 2010