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Managing Inpatriates: Building a

Global Core Competency


Michael C. Harvey M. Ronald Buckley

The core competency of an organization is a unique signature composed of tangible and intangible
assets that are used to d@erentiate a company from its competitors. As organizations have moved into
the global marketplace, many have attempted to simply extend their domestic core competency to com-
pete with global competitors. The cultural imprint of the core competency is a western, United States ori-
entation. To effectively differentiate U.S. MNCs in the global competitive arena, these organizations
must become more mulricultural. One means of accomplishing this diversity of strategic perspective is
to inpatriate foreign managers into the domestic management team on a permanent basis. The purpose
of this paper is to outline the need for inpatriation while presenting the issues which will arise in the
inpatriation process. A step-by-step process to accomplish inpatriation is also presented. While this pro-
cess is not free of dificulties, it may be a cost-effective way of globalizing the core competency of an
organization in a permanent way.

W HERECAN ORGANIZATIONS l Roberto C. Goizueta, Coca-Cola Co,


GET MANAGERSFOR Nationality: Cuban
INTERNATIONAL
EXPANSION?
This list of the upper level managers
l S.W.W. “Guus” Lobsen, Quaker of United States based multinational
Chemical Corporation, Nationality: corporations (MNCs) illustrates the
Dutch growing trend toward establishing a glo-
l John Hunter, Coca-Cola Co., bal perspective within a company and,
Nationality: Australian at the same time, infusing international
l John Halliday, ABC Laboratories, management expertise into United
Nationality: Irish
States MNCs. The international orienta-
l Cornelis Boonstra, Sara Lee Corpo-
tion of these managers may have been
ration, Nationality: Dutch
intended to assist in expanding the com-
pany overseas, or to offset the extremely
Michael C. Harvey is Puterbaugh Chair of American
Free Enterprise, University of Oklahoma, College of competitive tactics of foreign compa-
Business Administration, Norman, Oklahoma nies competing in the United States
73079. M. Ronald Buckley is Professor of Manage-
market. Domestic companies do not
ment Department of Management, University of
Oklahoma. have the luxury of waiting until Ameri-

Managing Impatriates 35
can managers can acquire the necessary of Sony will reflect the diversity of
multilingual skills, expatriate experi- countries that are important to the future
ence, and global vision. As global com- of the company. Similarly, Toshiba
petition becomes more intense, the next plans to have a more representative top
logical step for global enterprises will management and board of directors to
be to evolve into “multicultural multina- facilitate long-run global strategies.
tional” organizations. The process of transferring host-
Major world competitors are embark- country and third-country national man-
ing on the retooling of their manage- agers into the home/domestic market of
ments to reflect a diversity of cultural a MNC on a semipermanent basis is
perspectives. Asea Brown Boveri known as “inpatriation” (Harvey, 1993;
(ABB), a Swedish-Swiss electrical engi- in press (a)). The domestic inflow of
neering MNC, has a board of directors managers is frequently initiated with
consisting of eight individuals from four executives; but after a reasonable
different nationalities; an executive period, all levels of a multicultural
committee of eight with five managers MNC should include inpatriate manag-
from countries other than Sweden or ers. The resulting multicultural manage-
Switzerland; its official corporate lan- ment team should provide the basis for
guage is English; and all financial developing a competitive advantage, or
results are reported in United States dol- global core competency enabling MNCs
lars. The European energy company,
to compete more successfully in the glo-
Royal Dutch/Shell, has over 38 nation-
bal environment.
alities represented in its London head-
quarters and nearly as diverse a work-
force in its operating units throughout
DEVELOPINGAGLOBALCORE
the world (Copeland, 1995; Pechter,
COMPETENCY
1993; Thronhill, 1993).
The Japanese are reducing their uni- To effectively compete in the market-
cultural orientation in their global busi- place, companies develop a unique set
nesses. Yoichi Morishita, president of of skills for market positioning, combi-
Matsushita, has ordered that top man- nations of resources, technologies, and
agement must reflect the cultural diver- personnel that provide competitive dif-
sity of the countries where Matsushita ferentiation. The core competency of a
does business. Sony sells 80 percent of company not only becomes the distinct
its products overseas and recently rec- corporate signature but also provides
ognized the need to become multicul- the company with its competitive
tural. It has appointed two foreigners to advantage (Hall, 1993; Hamel & Pra-
its board of directors and has plans to halad, 1990). Companies develop a core
hire host-country nationals who are to competence which has a temporal
be integrated into the top management dimension and a scope to it. The tempo-
of the parent organization. At the same ral dimension is composed of an assess-
time, the Chairman of Sony has stated ment of how long the core competency
that in five years the board-of-directors will successfully differentiate the com-

36 Journal of World Business / 32(l) / 1997


pany from its primary rivals. An The issue of extending the time hori-
implicit dimension of the time perspec- zon and the breadth of United States-
tive is the need to constantly augment, based MNC’s core competency can be
develop, and improve the core compe- accomplished in several ways. The tra-
tency. Without attention to the distinc- ditional route is to develop global com-
tive core competency of the company, it petencies from within the MNC by hir-
may dissipate rapidly. The second ing managers with interest/ background,
dimension is its scope; that is where dif- i.e., education, travel, past business
ferentiation is effective in relation to a experience, in the global marketplace.
finite set of competitors within identifi- Once international managers are hired,
able market segments. Many companies they can be sent to extensive training
have a tendency to rely upon the his- programs on intercultural communica-
toric scope of their competency and fail tion, cultural flexibility and sensitivity
to project/estimate changes necessary to training, language training, and myriad
meet future evolution in competition other essential prerequisites to expatri-
and consumer needs. ating overseas. For the most part, this
The scope of a core competency is orientation to “home growing” an inter-
important for MNCs. If a United States national competency supports the use of
MNC starts with a domestic perspective expatriate managers. United States-
and expands from that point, this limits based MNCs have used expatriate man-
its core competency. The less familiar agers extensively because they are
management is with countries at differ- known commodities to the domestic
ent levels of economic development, management. The question that needs to
culturally distant from the United States be asked is “how long has this strategy
and with a new set of competitors, the been used, how expensive has it
more the core competency that has become, and how successful has the
served them in the past may become a expatriate strategy been for United
liability. Success in the international States MNCs?”
arena requires a different skill set. The One constraining factor of the expa-
rules of the game are different, custom- triate strategy of learning about the glo-
ers have different purchasing behavior, bal marketplace is that the expatriate
motivations and capabilities, and most managers are being trained by other
importantly, a new set of competitors Americans and typically operate in an
possess distinctive core competencies insular environment during their foreign
different from those in the domestic assignment. The expatriate managers
market. These companies, such as Sony, look at the foreign assignment through a
Matsushito, Toshiba, ABB, Shell, may Western cultural perspective and usu-
have based their distinctiveness on a ally do not fully understand the nuances
broad scope directed at future competi- of the culture in which they are compet-
tion. The resulting core competencies ing. This process reduces their insights
make them more formidable competi- into developing a unique competitive
tors to United States-based MNCs in the posture to effectively compete with for-
global market. eign competitors.

Managing Impatriates 37
If expatriates receive outstanding strategies, and tactics of the company
training and are successful, their reward soley the domian of the American orien-
is to return to the domestic organization tation to a global core competency.
having earned their “red badge of cour-
age.” Their impact upon the core com- Differences Between Domestic and
petency of the MNC is nullified because Inpatriate Managers
the value of their international experi-
Multiculturalism presents an intrigu-
ence is seldom translated into a new
ing challenge to the management of a
strategic direction or internationalizing
MNC based in the United States. The
the strategies of the MNC. Rather, these
issues are to take managers from differ-
experienced expatriates escape to more
universally supported career paths. The ent countries and cultures and to effec-
refinement and commitment to reposi- tively integrate managers from around
tioning or improving the international the world into an effective domestic
strategy is forsaken to a degree and, management team. Another issue is how
therefore, the United States based MNC to maintain the differing perspectives of
frequently attempts to compete with a these managers to add to the interna-
generic international core competency tional competence of the MNC manage-
(Lei & Slocum, 1992). ment. The place to start would be to bet-
Given the problems associated with ter understand the unique properties of
the development of a global core com- inpatriate managers in comparison to
petency through an expatriate strategy, a domestic managers. The primary dis-
more effective strategy may be to tinction between the two groups of man-
reverse the flow of managers. By inpa- agers can be classified into three catego-
triating highly qualified host and third ries:
country nationals into the domestic
operations, the core strategy becomes 1. Cultural, social, and psychological
internationalized through the constant backgrounds;
input of the inpatriate managers. 2. Past organizational experiences
Through inpatriation, the uniculture of and;
an MNC becomes multicultural and 3. Expectations of domestic manage-
managers broaden their perspectives in ment relative to the inpatriate man-
shaping a global core competency. For ager.
inpatriation to be successful, it must
encompass all levels in the organization. 1. Cultural, Social and Psychologi-
Furthermore, it must be incorporated cal Background of Inpatriate
into basic philosophy of the organiza- Managers. The cultural, social, and
tion. As with any successful change, psychological environment has a dis-
inpatriate managers and their successors tinct impact on a person’s frame-of-ref-
have to become embedded in the culture erence. An inpatriate manager arrives in
of the MNC. When that occurs, the the United States with a mental map of
MNC’s management perspective is “how the world” works which is based
modified and no longer are the policies, on past experiences as a person and as a

38 Journal of World Business / 32(l) / 1997


manager. Basic skills are influenced by business school degree. In many coun-
where the inpatriate manager grew-up tries, the educational goals are to pro-
and went to school. North Americans vide students with a comprehensive
and Europeans have a cultural system, general education or a highly specific,
learning style, and reasoning preference technical degree in engineering, medi-
which tends toward the inductive task cine, or the hard sciences. Business
or problem-solving approach to learn- school programs outside the United
ing. The majority of the Asian countries States and Europe are rare and those that
tend toward deductive, topic-centered do exist are predominantly based in eco-
reasoning. The learning style permeates nomics. Therefore, the starting point for
the thought processes of individuals and accumulating a frame-of-reference for
influences how they act and interact many inpatriate managers is different
with others. The interaction between than the frame-of-reference of the
inpatriates and domestic managers can majority of domestic managers.
be hindered by the way each The corporate culture to which an
approaches a problem or task (Kolb, inpatriate has been accustomed influ-
1985; Pepitone, 1986). Developing ences their behavior when they are
effective management teams with inpa- transferred to the domestic unit of a
triates and domestic managers must United States MNC. The culture of a
incorporate these learning differences. company encompasses the written and
The broad frame-of-reference of unwritten rules enacted to govern the
inpatriate managers is based upon their routines within the organization. To the
country-of-origin and influences how degree that these internal operating sys-
information is gathered, processed, and tems differ between the inpatriate’s
stored. The conclusions drawn from home company and those of the domes-
data can also be culturally based so that tic organization, the inpatriate manager
two managers given the same informa- will experience uncertainty and stress
tion may come to dramatically different (Milliman, Von Glinow & Nathan,
conclusions (worth noting if you are a 1991). For example, if the manager’s
member of a heterogenous team). The performance appraisal has always been
role of work is a culturally based con- a private meeting with the owner of the
cept which influences motivation, loy- company once a year, the inpatriate
alty, and the importance of one’s profes- becomes secure with this process. Upon
sion to life. As the inpatriate managers’ relocating to the United States, the inpa-
country-of-origin differs from the triate manager learns that there will be a
United States,the key dimensions of 360 degree assessment by superiors,
their working habits will also differ. subordinates, peers, customers, as well
2. Past Orgunizational Experiences as outside shareholders, twice a year and
of Inpatriate Managers. Inpatriate man- to be discussed openly among the oper-
agers’ business experiences may be sig- ating division’s management. This one
nificantly different from their domestic modification to a culture can be cata-
counterparts. First, it is not unusual for strophic to the self-image of the inpatri-
many inpatriate managers to not have a ate manager. When these differences are

Managing Impatriates 39
found in compensation, promotion, lev- management, knowing the domestic
els of authority/autonomy, and hiring organizational culture, and how the
and retention, the stability of the inpatri- organization operates.
ate’s frame-of-reference is dramatically The converse of the expatriate man-
disrupted. ager’s experience exists when an inpa-
The stress felt by the inpatriate man- triate manager from Coalgate Palmolive
ager may be compounded due to family is assigned to the domestic organiza-
concerns. When an inpatriate manager tion. An inpatriate seldom will be
is relocated to the United States, the accorded the same respect because they
local community is “foreign” to the are “outsiders.” This cultural standoff-
family’s needs. The stress of the family ishness may even occur when top exec-
unit is transferred to the inpatriate man- utives are imported to head-up key
ager. As the isolation from family back management positions (Cassidy, 199 1).
home and lack of interaction with local Credibility of the inpatriate is chal-
citizens builds, the stress in the family lenged due to coming to headquarters
situation can spillover into the inpatriate from a “less significant” operating unit
manager’s professional life. This dual- in the organization. The credibility of
stress situation creates an environment the inpatriate will be influenced to a
that makes fulfilling job expectations degree by the perceived importance of
difficult. the foreign subsidiary where the inpatri-
3. Expectations of Domestic Man- ate manager was previously assigned,
agement Relative to the Inpatriate as well as the personal credentials of the
Manager. An inpatriate manager foreign manager. To compound the
arrives at a domestic United States problem, an inpatriate manager may
MNC-based position with a set of per- have English as a second language, may
sonal, social, and professional charac- not understand the culture of the organi-
teristics that makes him/her “different.” zation and, therefore, may be perceived
The natural inclination of domestic by subordinates, in particular, as being
managers is to consider these inpatriate less qualified for this new position in
managers as “outsiders.” Mobil Oil the domestic organization.
expatriate managers on overseas The inpatriate manager may experi-
assignments experience a similar type ence the status inconsistency of being
of exclusion from the informal organi- placed in a position of authority in the
zational events but for significantly dif- organization without the informal per-
ferent reasons. When the expatriate sonal attributes that would command
manager arrives in an overseas posi- respect from local managers. This
tion, they are greeted with the status of inconsistency can create a great deal of
being from “headquarters” and the stress for the inpatriate manager, if it is
power and prestige of being from the not appropriately addressed. Another
“home office.” They have legitimate form of status inconsistency may have
power associated with being a United grave consequences for the inpatriate
States expatriate with knowledge and manager. When inpatriate managers
experience in dealing with the domestic leave their foreign assignments to relo-

40 Journal of World Business / 32(l) / 1997


cate to the United States, they are likely the-job field education; (2) assessments
very well respected, highly productive of an individual’s potential for success
managers. They have been accorded the and growth in the position; (3) social/
rewards and recognition of being a suc- cultural fit; and, (4) the stage of career
cessful manager. Once arriving in a new and family life cycle of the candidate.
positions in the United States, status and In addition to these criteria, a myriad
accompanying rewards are frequently other factors become important in the
missing and the resulting lack of organi- inpatriation selection process at Texas
zational support leads to stress and dis- Instruments. What type of selection
satisfaction. The tension associated with instruments should be used? Should
this status inconsistency in the work- there be a personal interview, personal-
place can spillover to the family and cre- ity tests, cognitive skills tests, or inter-
ate additional stress and culture shock personal ability tests be used? Fore-
for the family unit. thought should be used so that there is a
match between candidate and selection
Human Resource Management and instruments-there is a need to use the
the Inpatriate Manager instrument which reveals the most about
the candidate.
Individuals who go through the inpa- There is a need to assess the western-
triation process should be treated quite ization of each candidate. Candidates
differently, with respect to human from cultures similar to the United
resource issues. Consider a number of States experience fewer challenges in
those human resource management pro- the adjustment process. A related issue
cesses that must be considered in the is the degree to which candidates are
inpatriation process. culturally bound. Can those who have
been raised in a social system with rig-
1. Identification/Selection Issues. idly defined castes such as India, be sat-
This process is generally looked upon isfied in the absence of such social
as a two-way signaling process (Milk- structures? Can the candidate (and fam-
ovich & Boudreau, 1994). Participants ily) fulfill religious needs where the
use this system in order to interpret and majority practice a different faith and
send information about their respective opportunities for worship may be lim-
positions. The number of signals which ited. Related to all of the preceding,
pass between participants increases there is a need to assess the individual
geometrically. For example, at Texas flexibility of candidates for inpatriation.
Instruments most selection decisions Many situations will arise which require
are made primarily based upon one job- behavioral and cognitive flexibility.
related factor-can the candidate per- Candidates with little flexibility will
form the job? Other factors included in face difficult adjustments. In fact, this
the decision process, to a lesser extent, may be second in importance only to
for a manager are: (1) the educational job-related factors. Global companies
background of the candidate in terms of have found that inflexibility is the key
preparation-school education and on- attribute that derails managers.

Managing Impatriates 41
2. Assessment/Training Issues. 3. Family Benefits, Compensation,
Many of the assessment/training issues and Motivation Issues. From a compen-
for inpatriate managers mirror those for sation perspective, inpatriates have been
managers selected for expatriation. treated with relative neglect. Unlike
There would be a need to assess the pro- expatriates, inpatriates receive rela-
fessional capabilities of inpatriates, tively fewer (or no) increases in pay,
along with their training in the func- incentives, or living allowances (Har-
tional business disciplines. Any deficits vey, 1996a). Compounding this is the
would require remedial training. Deal- reality that few organizations possess
ing with inpatriates, though, would well-developed inpatriate support pro-
require considerably more information grams. The end result is an increase in
for the training process to be successful. the number and severity of stressors
Many of the important areas would be which confront inpatriates. Compensa-
concerned with fit in a different culture. tion (and support) packages can be used
to facilitate the transition of inpatriates.
Training must be considered from two
This is not to suggest that inpatriates
perspectives: cultural impediments to fit
should be overcompensated, but com-
and cultural impediments to training.
pensation should be equitable in relation
The need to assess fit encompasses
to past positions of the inpatriate, their
assessment of a number of different
foreign counterparts in the organization,
dimensions of fit: (A) what is the social/
and the compensation levels of their
cultural distance of the inpatriate from
local counterparts. Dow Chemical USA
US culture?; (B) how proficient is the
and Mariott both attempt to provide
expatriate in cross-cultural communica-
inpatriate managers with salary
tion and cultural sensitivity?; and, (C)
increases and benefit programs similar
can the inpatriate (and family) stand the
to those of expatriate managers on over-
stresses of inpatriation and can they seas assignments. Johnson & Johnson
build a social support network for their has local support programs for inpatriate
assimilation into US culture? family members to provide social sup-
Training may facilitate the immersion port to the entire family. Financial con-
of an inpatriate (and family) by smooth- cerns should not be another nuisance
ing the assimilation process. A funda- variable in inpatriate adjustment. Inpa-
mental difficulty arises in relation to this triate assignments should be aligned
assimilation training-does assimila- with an equitable compensation pack-
tion training minimize any of the bene- age.
fits of inpatriation? One of the benefits One of the assumptions we tend to
of inpatriation is the globalization of the make is that compensation is inordi-
work force. Assimilation training nately important in the motivation pro-
diminishes the cultural enrichment ben- cess. For many individuals that is cer-
efits concomitant with inpatriation. A tainly the case. But the key in
goal is to flexibly train the inpatriate so motivation is based on the individual.
the advantage of inpatriation are not Different individuals bring different
washed out. needs to work. Some individuals require

42 Journal of World Business / 32( 1) / 1997


money, some require recognition, some nature. This is congruent with the devel-
require flexibility . . . an inpatriate is no opmental purposes of the performance
different-making assumptions about appraisal process.
what motivates inpatriates is hazardous, The acceptability of the performance
at best, and just plain wrong, at worst. appraisal process is an issue. Should an
Compensation and support programs inpatriate be evaluated separate from
must be tailored to individual needs and group performance? Can inpatriate per-
preferences in order to facilitate the suc- formance be partialed out from group
cessful adjustment of inpatriates. performance? It depends on past prac-
4. Petiormance and Appraisal Sys- tices experienced by the inpatriate. This
tem. The performance appraisal system highlights the need for communicating,
requires considerable modification for for performance review and stressing
inpatriates. In most human resources the development/redirection which is
systems, the functions of performance intended in the appraisal process.
appraisal fit into one or more of the fol- The issue of the timing of perfor-
lowing: employee development, evalua- mance appraisal has recently received
tion, information (feedback), and much attention. The current wisdom is
motivation (Bernardin & Beatty, 1984). that appraisal is an ongoing develop-
There is a need to analyze past experi- mental process, not a yearly occurrence
ence with appraisal in the home country. tied solely with salary review. Texas
The relative degree of difference with Instruments has changed their appraisal
appraisal practices in the United States to better reflect this wisdom. How will
must be evaluated. For example, the this be perceived by an inpatriate man-
most effective performance appraisal ager? Will it be perceived in a develop-
systems, like that used at Fleming Com- mental, constructive sense, or will it be
panies, Inc., are those which utilize perceived as over-monitoring and a lack
information from a number of sources of confidence in the inpatriate? As with
of information (peers, subordinates, US managers, it must be stressed that
supervisors, and self). An important performance appraisal is utilized to
issue with an inpatriate is whether these motivate, develop, and redirect the per-
are acceptable/valuable sources of formance of inpatriates. Communica-
information? Further, there is some tion will be key in developing a system
question as to what type of performance which facilitates performance for inpa-
appraisal will be more helpful in facili- triates.
tating the performance of the inpatri- 5. Career Paths/Retention. There
ate-should it be a quantitative are a number of important issues con-
appraisal which is long on numbers and cerned with career paths with inpatriate
short on behavioral feedback. Or should employees. Most of these issues center
it be the converse-behaviorally-ori- around why the inpatriate was hired.
ented feedback? Due to the unique Simply put, was the inpatriate hired to
nature of the inpatriate environment, it develop the organization or to develop
appears as though much of the perfor- the individual (or both)? Should an
mance appraisal should be qualitative in inpatriate be put into an entry level posi-

Managing Impatriates 43
tion in an organization? The responses be possible. Compensation and benefits
to these issue will determine the career should be determined using peers and
path of an individual. rank in the US as the frame-of-refer-
ence, not home country statistics. Inpa-
There are a number of other impor- triates should be provided with a safety
tant career issues. For example, what net and be permitted to return home
about promotions and possible reloca- without damage to subsequent career
tions? Should promotions be made movement. For example, if a greater
using the standards of the home country professional or personal opportunity
of the inpatriate? Is the inpatriate put in opens up in their home market, an inpa-
a position which requires the accom- triate should be treated similarly to how
plishment and learning of many diverse a domestic employee is treated. Career
functional areas? Should relocations be movement should not be automatically
encouraged? This may result in a revisi- career debilitating.
tation of adjustment issues which may
have been earlier and successfully con-
Work and Family Problems Related
fronted? Decisions concerning the focal
to the Inpatriation of Managers
point of development (person/ organiza-
tion/both) have major influence on the The human resource issues associated
answers to these questions. with inpatriate managers reflects “offi-
Under what conditions should the cial” organizational concerns surround-
inpatriate be returned to their home mar- ing inpatriate managers-those appro-
ket? There are numerous personal, priate for organization concern. As
developmental, and organizational rea- important are the complications relative
sons to return an inpatriate. These rea- to the external environment that both the
sons may have different degrees of pos- inpatriates and their families face. Prob-
itive perceptions associated with them. lems on the job can create stress which
For example, if an individual returns carries over to the inpatriates’ families,
home for personal reasons does this limit as can the difficulties the families have
career development in the home market? adjusting to the new culture. The suc-
Inpatriation may be a dangerous process cessful integration of inpatriate manag-
from both ends. If an inpatriate returns ers into domestic organization depends
home, this may lead to stunting career upon satisfying the social and cultural
development. If an inpatriate stays in an support needs of the inpatriates’ fami-
international assignment the “bamboo lies.
ceiling” may be responsible for stunting
career growth and development. It is 1. Determination of Adjustment
more difficult for inpatriates to make it to Cycle for Various Categories of Inpa-
the top of an organization than it is for triate Managers. The adjustment cycles
nationals to rise to the upper echelons of when entering a new culture is predi-
an organization. cated on five related issues: (1) prede-
In order to facilitate satisfaction with parture training; (2) previous overseas
work, promotion opportunities should experience; (3) what criteria were used

44 Journal of World Business / 32(l) / 1997


by the organization in the selection of 2. As~e~~~~e~t of ~~~~ct of Fairly
candidates; (4) characteristics and skills on Successful Inpatriation. Successful
of the manager being transferred; and adjustment may be influenced by the
(5) nonwork related factors, i.e., family inpatriate manager’s family, The stage
issues, degree of cultural differences in of the family life-cycles may be used or
host country, degree of governmental a quasi indicator as to the level of influ-
intervention in the organization (Parker ence of the family unit on the inpatriate
& McEvoy, 1993). The level of diffi- manager.
culty inpatriate managers encounter As Exhibit 1 illustrates, not only does
upon relocation to the United States can the family life-cycle have predictable
be diminished through predeparture stages, but also the typical type of fam-
training and establishing selection crite- ily problems that can impact the inpatri-
ria that incorporates culturally flexibil- ate manager at each stage of the cycle
ity assessment. The level of past cross- (Gilby & Enis, 1982). For example, as
the children become a much more cen-
cultural experiences prospective inpatri-
tral issue in the family unit, the greater
ate managers have had can be indicators
will be the need for cultural and social
of how rapidly the adjustment cycle
support mechanisms. The educational,
will occur once transferred to the
religious, and extended family issues
United States. These are job-related fac-
are primary concerns within the family
tors for an inpatriate manager.
during these children intense stages.
It should be noted that a comparable
These culturally influenced factors may
adjustment assessment of the trailing
be the most difficult to address during
spouse and family members should also
the inpatriate’s assignment to the United
occur. The duration and the level of dys-
States. However, when the children are
functions consequences of the adjust- older, the cultural inculcation has
ment should be anticipated prior to relo- already taken place through the family
cation. By forecasting the perceived and only needs to be supported during
adjustment cycle, domestic human the relocation experience. The colfege
resource personnel should be able to age children stage of the family life-
provide the necessary support mecha- cycle permits the children to return to
nisms relative to the stage of the inpatri- their home country if they wish,
ate’s adjustment cycle (as well as for the thereby, reducing their dissatisfaction
family). In addition, by estimating the which may play a role in the inpatriate
length and complexity of adjustment, manager’s performance.
human resource managers will be The need to develop formal support
alerted to problems when the inpatriate from the MNC is predicated to a large
manager exceeds time estimates. The degree upon family needs and expecta-
need for support provided by the com- tions, such as, the need to find employ-
pany may be magnified due to dual ment for the trailing spouse may neces-
stress, i.e., lack of stability in the work sitate a formalized placement program
and external environments of the inpa- for inpatriate managers’ spouses. U.S.
triate manager. Sprint, NCR, Kodak and BP American

Managing Impatriates 45
Exhibit 1
Family Life Cycle and Impact on Inpatriate Managers’ Families

SignifiiUy
r-
Reduced neribilii for Rd0Cati - -

Family UfeCycle~ i I I I

all have spouse placement programs tude toward the MNC as being the pri-
within their foreign organizations. mary reason that he/she had to give up
Without this assistance, the trailing their career. According to individual cir-
spouse may experience significant cumstances, this may result in spousal
obstacles to continuing a career. The adjustment problems and enmity toward
frustration associated with not being the MNC.
able to find employment may play a 3. Community Issues Associated
critical role in the spouse’s level of sat- with the Znpatriation Process. The inpa-
isfaction with the family’s relocation to triate manager may not adjust equally
the United States (Harvey, 1993; 1996a; well in a community in the United
1996~). A related factor is the impact on States. Just as there is a cultural distance
the disposable income of the family. between countries, the degree of sophis-
While inpatriate managers will more tication/cosmopolitanism between com-
than likely receive an increase in com- munities varies significantly. Every
pensation and relocation benefits, the effort needs to be made to match the
discretionary income beyond maintain- communities from which the inpatriate
ing the inpatriate’ s standard-of-living is moving from to the community he/she
may decline (on a relative basis). Also is being transferred to in the United
important, is the trailing spouse’s atti- States. For example, transferring a Mits-

46 Journal of World Business / 32(l) / 1997


bushi inpatriate from Tokyo to Chicago 4. Superior, Peer and Subordinate
would be a good match from the level of Understanding of the Role of the Inpa-
cultural, social, education, and transpor- triate Managers. The domestic manage-
tation expectations of the transferee. ment team must be aware of the
The same inpatriate transferred to El importance of the inpatriate manager
Paso, Texas may not have the same ease program and the value of individual
in adjustment to the assignment in the inpatriate managers to the globalization
United States. of the company. A definitive statement
The majority of community related on the goals of the inpatriation program
concerns for the inpatriate manager needs to be communicated throughout
revolve around the trailing spouse and the organization. In an effort to support
family. Career and employment oppor- and facilitate the inpatriate manager
tunities are an issue as many of the trail- program, a cross-cultural awareness/
ing spouses will be employed in the communication program should be pre-
home country. The frequency of dual- pared for management within the MNC.
career and dual-income families is By the MNC being better prepared to
increasing throughout developed coun- address the influx of foreign managers,
tries in the world with many of them the adjustment process will be acceler-
having 70-80 percent dual-career/dual- ated and domestic managers can better
income family units. Satisfaction of the understand why another “special inter-
trailing spouse may be contingent upon est” group has crowded the ranks for
the ability to continue his/her career
advancement and key management
during the transfer period (Greenhaus &
positions. The training could include
Granrose, 1992; Blair, 1994).
background information on the inpatri-
The representation of minorities in
ate country of origin, history of the inpa-
the community could play a role in the
triates’ home country, illustrating social
transfer of inpatriate managers to the
and cultural similarities/differences, and
United States. The willingness to accept
the economic importance of the global
“outsiders” is not an ubiquitous charac-
market to the future of the company.
teristic of communities across the
United States. Depending upon the
national characteristics of the inpatriate,
DESIGNINGA PROACTIVE
identification of communities based on
INPATRIATIONPROGRAM
cultural diversity and/or representation
should be taken into consideration The inpatriation of foreign managers
before inpatriating the overseas man- into the United States should follow an
ager. Acceptance of the inpatriate fam- established plan to address the afore-
ily provides the foundation for success- mentioned issues. The plan will be
ful adjustment to a new culture. influenced by the number as well as the
Schooling opportunities for children level at which the inpatriate managers
that are compatible with the inpatriate’s are brought into the organization. We
expectations helps in reducing a major suggest the following steps be taken in
source of stress in relocating families. designing a proactive program.

Managing Impatriates 47
STEP ONE: Inpatriate tainty orientation, and more recently, he
Orientation Assessment had added time orientation. By using
One of the most critical aspects of any these variables as cultural indicators, he
inpatriation program is to determine the classified countries into distinct cultural
degree of difference among the incom- categories. This analysis does not imply
ing managers. The degree of heteroge- that countries in the same category are
neity among inpatriate managers can the same, but rather have greater simi-
have an impact on the type of training larity to countries in the category than
and organizational support necessary. between categories. The greater the cul-
Two indicators of the relative level of tural distance from the United States,
adjustment for inpatriate managers the more difficulty the inpatriate man-
would be the differences between their ager may experience in adjustment. It
home country environment and the would also be logical to expect a longer
United States as well as the magnitude adjustment cycle and additional support
of difference in the organizational envi- from the MNC once relocated domesti-
ronment between the two operating cally.
units. The “fit” between the two organiza-
The country-of-origin of the inpatri- tional cultures becomes an indicator of
ate manager will provide a cue as to the the adjustment problems inpatriate man-
social, cultural, and economic differ- agers will experience. The greater the
ences the manager will experience upon similarity of the two cultures and human
arriving in the United States. To ade- resource policies, the less traumatic the
quately respond to these differences, the adjustment process for inpatriate man-
MNC must assess the magnitude of agers. The more familiar the corporate
expected adjustment of each manager; setting, the less stressful the adjustment
therefore, some type of classification process and the less likely that there will
scheme needs to be developed to differ- be spillover into an inpatriate’s private
entiate the necessary training and sup- life. The internal cultural distance that
port for each inpatriate manager. This the inpatriate manager experiences
may be as simple as an individual skill relates to the level of sophistication or
analysis-as long as those issues dis- development of the inpatriate’s own
cussed earlier are included in the neces- organization to that of the domestic
sary skill set. organization. The degree of control or
Exhibit 2 illustrates a format for orga- involvement of the MNC in the foreign
nizing environmental issues relative to operation can be used as a quasi indica-
an inpatriate manager’s “cultural” expe- tor of cultural “fit.”
rience prior to relocating to the United
States. The external environment cate- STEP TWO: Assessment of Exter-
gories could be based upon Hofstede’s nal/Community Support
classification of culture (Hofstede, The external/community environ-
1980; 1994). His indicators were: social ment can directly impact inpatriate
orientation, power orientation, uncer- adjustment. The “sophistication” of the

48 Journal of World Business / 32(l) / 1997


Exhibit 2
Inpatriate Manager Environmental Analysis Matrix

Highly Similar - * Highly Dissimilar


Exiemal Environment

category I c&goryII categoly


III Category IV Categoly v
Internal Environment CUlhIre CUltWe Culture Culture CUkW3

community can influence the degree of ity of the inpatriate’s family to assimi-
acceptance of “foreigners.” The social late into the social setting or community
environment relative to newcomers can as a whole. While social support can
influence the trailing spouse’s accep- come from representatives and families
tance of the transfer and thereby the of the MNC, the more natural the affili-
level of stress in the inpatriate family ations are, the more likely they will be
unit. If the inpatriate family unit is lasting ones. Frequently, when a new-
accepted into the community, the transi- comer enters a new community there is
tion can be better handled by all family an initial flurry of support activity that
members. On the other hand, if the inpa- quickly dwindles. Without a more natu-
triate family is isolated and cutoff from ral set of companions, i.e., others who
a social support network, the stress were originally “foreign” to the commu-
within the family unit will grow and nity, lasting community support will be
compound the inpatriate manager’s lacking.
stress on the job. Two critical elements that need to be
The level and composition of the assessed prior to transferring inpatriates
minority community within the commu- into the domestic organization are the
nity may also be used to gauge the abil- educational and religious options in the

Managing Impatriates 49
community. Ignoring the most funda- conflict, lower on-job productivity, and
mental social support mechanisms, the lower physical and mental well-being of
probability of success of the transfer is both inpatriate and family. A systematic
diminished. If the community does not measurement and longitudinal monitor-
have the facility to undertake bicultural/ ing of the inpatriate managers stress
language education for school age chil- level must be conducted and a bench-
dren, serious consideration of relocating marking of stress levels by cultural
the inpatriate to a more accommodating background must be established. Simi-
community must be examined. lar stress assessments should be con-
This stage of the inpatriate program ducted with family members due to the
requires a clinical, unbiased assessment spillover of stress into the work environ-
of the external support systems in the ment.
community. The social, religious, edu-
cational, and cultural needs of the inpa- STEP FOUR: Establishing or
triate and the family unit must be met. Training and Experience Programs
Without this external support, the inpa- for the Inpatriate Manager
triate program may fail or face more dif- Each inpatriate manager should
ficulties. undergo an assessment regarding their
training and business experience. An
STEP THREE: Establishing a ongoing, broadening educational plan
Formal Inpatriate Monitoring should be designed for each inpatriate
Process based on this deficiency assessment.
Given the potential level of stress for The base of this business training can
both the inpatriate and family members take the form of formal educational
during a transfer to the United States, opportunities, e.g., in-house training
we recommend a formal, ongoing programs, short courses, and university
assessment of the manager and family. extension educational programs. The
The stressors commonly associated with inpatriate manager could be “exposed’
inpatriate relocation are: (1) loss of to the business culture by observing
close relationships in both family and business decision being made at higher
work situations; (2) adaptation to both levels in the organization. By taking on
internal and external environments; (3) the observer’s role, the inpatriate would
problems associated with establishing a not be expected to contribute to the deci-
new residence; (4) an altered financial sion-making process, but to learn how
state, e.g., higher cost of living or imme- organizational culture influences the
diate loss of spouse’s income; (5) pres- process.
sure by family members who are experi- Training beyond formal courses
encing difficulty in adjusting; and (6) could include short-term assignments to
pressure to succeed in a new position other locations in the United States.
without the traditional support levels. These assignments could be designed to
High levels of stress are associated expose the inpatriate manager to differ-
with low job satisfaction, family-work ences in the operation of the company in

50 Journal of World Business ! 32(l) I 1997


the domestic market. The inpatriate lyzed for its contribution to providing a
manager could also return to their coun- unique perspective on the MNC’s global
try-of-origin for task specific purposes strategies and ultimate development of a
to test newly learned skills and to be a global core competency.
project manager for some specific prob- One problem that needs to be
lem in the home country. A benefit of addressed is whether the inpatriate
periodically returning home is to allow manager can maintain a global perspec-
the inpatriate to maintain professional tive in a domestic organizational set-
relations with managers in the home ting. If taken to its logical conclusion, a
country. The successful inpatriate man- very successful adjustment training pro-
ager can be helpful in recruiting addi- gram for inpatriate managers might
tional managers to inpatriate to the westernize them to a point where their
United States. value is diminished in building a multi-
The inpatriate manager and family cultural environment. This would defeat
should also be provided with profes- the goal of inpatriation diversifying the
sional counseling to facilitate adjust- core competency of an organization.
ment. The stress management and cul- Inpatriation is not synonymous with
tural adaptation counseling could acculturation. Organizations need those
provide the final assistance to insure a managers who are able to experience
successful inpatriation process. Once it and synthesize the benefits of different
is felt that the inpatriate manager and cultures for the purpose of facilitating
family have made a successful adjust- management appropriate in a global
ment, they can be enlisted to assist in environment.
modifying the program to improve the To successfully compete in the glo-
process. The inpatriate managers can bal market place, MNCs have to aug-
also be used as nurturers and mentors ment their existing domestic manage-
for new inpatriate managers, particu- ment perspective. Without the global-
ization of an MNC’s core competency,
larly when they are from the same cul-
tural cluster. organizations will not be adequately
prepared to take on their global compet-
itors who are multicultural. A generic
STEP FIVE: Measuring the Impact
core competency will not successfully
of the Inpatriate Program
differentiate the MNC. A fast, cost
Due to the relative newness of creat- effective means to develop a global
ing a multicultural corporate environ- core competency is to inpatriate manag-
ment, the inpatriation program impact ers to the domestic organization. MNCs
needs to be assessed. The measurement which develop successful inpatriation
of success of the inpatriate program will problems can reap significant
be difficuh due to the long-term nature rewards-the strategic ability to differ-
of the project, i.e., to stabilize the corpo- entiate their organization in a global
rate culture and implement successful context with a truly “globalized” work
global core competencies. Nonetheless, force. Inpatriate training will be essen-
the inpat~ation program must be ana- tial for any organization seeking to

Managing Impatriates 51
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52 Journal of World Business / 32( 1) / 1997