Cross cuiltur managment (Expatriation and Culture Shock in China )

Cardozo (2007) believes that these opportunities are being sought and preferred because of the excitement of foreign travel and the challenges presented by the new posts. It would appear, however, based on studies and recent developments on expatriation, that the figure is not altogether rosy for the expatriates. One of the undesirable effects of expatriation is culture shock, a condition defined as coming to understand and adapt to differences in culture by Kwintessential Ltd., a company engaged in cross cultural services. It is the objective of this paper to take an in-depth look at expatriation and culture shock in China, how expatriation leads to culture shock and how this condition is experienced by the expatriates. The choice of China is made for the simple reason that China is an interesting case for cultural study especially in its present role as the bearer of a new economic order, and for many expatriate managers, is a stimulating environment in which to live and work (Kaye and Taylor, 1997). The paper further aims to examine the causes of this undesirable state using research data gathered from secondary sources. It is hoped that the examination will add more insights into this problem and possibly contribute to a deeper understanding and resolution of the same. Extent of Failure of Expatriation According to Harzing (1995), almost every publication on the topic of expatriation defines and evaluates expatriate failure as the percentage of expatriates returning home before their assignment contract expires. Harzing (1995) cites Buckley and Brooke who claimed that expatriate failure would be in the range of 70 per cent for developing countries and 25-40% in developing countries. Rosalie Tung in Shilling (1993) puts a second to this claim by citing survey results among US, European and Japanese multinational corporations indicating a high percentage of failures in overseas assignments. In another report by Sharon Lobel, failed assignments were reported to have occurred in as often as 70% of the time in many developed countries (Shilling, 1993). Addler and Ghadar in Harzing (1995) attribute a range of 25-40% for failed American expatriates while Tung’s estimate of the failure rate among expatriates in Europe is 10%. It is easy to see from these percentages that the returning expatriates, known as repatriates, represent a substantial sum of money lost on their failure to adapt to the country of assignment. If the losses are substantial from the returning assignees, what is more disturbing is the finding in recent studies that showed the decreasing number of candidates now refusing foreign assignments (Rao, 2010) Other studies have shown, according to Kaye and Taylor (1997), that 16-40% of expatriates terminate their foreign assignments early because of their poor performance on the job or their inability to adjust to their new environment. Not only that, the same studies show that as many as 50% of those who stay would be functioning at low levels of effectiveness (Kaye and Taylor, 1997). It is estimated that the average cost to the parent company of a failed assignment would be in the range of $65,000 to $300,000 per failure (Mendenhall and Oddou in Kaye and Taylor, 1997). Culture Shock: A Major Cause of Failure The Oxford Dictionary of Sociology refers to culture shock as

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