Atlas Amplifier PDF — Summer 2005 (4.9 MB)
By Gary M. Wederspahn, Grovewell LLC
Cross-cultural training and coaching should be a component of every international relocation package. It just makes good business sense to do the smart thing for the company and the right thing for expatriates by providing them with the tools they need to deal successfully with the reality of culture in their host countries.
The risks, problems, and obstacles commonly recognized as part of international relocation include loss, theft or damage of property during shipping, delays in obtaining visas and work permits, difficulty locating acceptable housing or schools, finding needed community services, and even transporting pets. Unfortunately, the most daunting challenge, cross-cultural adaptation, is seldom on the list...perhaps because it doesn't seem as real as the other, more tangible factors. Yet, failure to adapt to the culture in the host country has far more impact on the success of the international assignment than do the obvious pitfalls.
Consider these facts:
Knowing these facts, some corporations protect the investment in their expatriates by giving them intercultural training and coaching. The benefits of doing so are clear. A 2002 CIGNA/NFTC/WorldatWork survey found that expatriates who had cross-cultural training were three times as likely to rate their overseas assignments "favorable" compared to those without it. A Prudential Relocation International study of expatriates’ satisfaction and performance twelve months into their assignments reported that 94 percent recommend cross-cultural training to others.
International relocation and moving companies that help their clients see the reality of culture and offer them tools for overcoming cultural differences are doing them a big favor.