Some 83% of HR executives surveyed expect the number of international assignments to stay the same or increase during the next five years. However, research indicates that U.S. corporations are far less successful in placing managers overseas than their international counterparts. U.S. failure rates, defined as managers with international placements who returned home early, are estimated at 20-30 percent, compared to approximately 10 percent for European and Japanese multinationals.
Several factors appear to account for these differences. Studies indicate that only 30 percent of American managers sent on foreign assignments receive any cross-cultural training prior to their departure. Why not? Top managers often mistakenly believe that managerial skills are perfectly transferable across cultures when, in fact, the role of the manager is itself culturally determined. Selection decisions for overseas postings are based primarily on the person’s domestic track record as opposed to intercultural competence and preparation. Managers assume that “business is business” or that people can’t master a foreign culture in only a few weeks.
Succeeding in international business requires many new skills. These skills include: cross-cultural communication, cross-cultural team-building and managing virtual teams, cross-cultural sales and marketing, cross-cultural negotiation and cross-cultural conflict management. For further information about how Critical Measures can help prepare your managers for international success, contact David Hunt at 612-746-1375.