Pre-departure the expatriates should be provided with pre-departure

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Last updated: April 23, 2019

Pre-departure Training In addition to cultural awareness training, the expatriatesshould be provided with pre-departure training, including didactic, language,experiential and cognitive behaviour modification training.

Pre-departure CCTaims to prepare expatriates for their assignment by developing their awarenessof the differences between their home country and host country, and wherepossible, preparing them for such differences. Mansour and Wood 2009:384,citing Hodgetts and Luthans (2000) noted that studies suggest “thedifferences between the parent country’s culture and the host country’s culturedictate the effort required for training, with greater effort required forgreater differences”. In some Middle Eastern countries, such as the UnitedArab Emirates (UAE), there is a large expatriate presence which can lessen theneed for pre-departure training. A study by Harrison and Michailova (2012:625)found that western female expatriates working in the UAE “did not findlengthy rigorous CCT critical to their assignments”, and in instead sawsuch training as “unjustified cost” as they rarely interacted withhost nationals. This is worth taking into consideration when sending UKexpatriates to the Middle East, however it’s also important to remember thatexpatriates working in the hospitality industry are more likely to encounterdaily interactions with host and third country nationals.

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Pre-departure training can increase the expatriates'”level of accuracy of perceptions towards the target culture, withbeneficial consequences for both adjustment and performance” (Reiche, Leeand Quintanilla, 2013:5). The level of accuracy of their perceptions howeverrelies on the accuracy of the information provided to the expatriates in thetraining. If the expatriates are provided with inaccurate or biasedinformation, there is risk of negative consequences to adjustment andperformance. Inaccurate or biased information may not be intentional, forexample Mamman (2017:10) notes how trainer’s “explanations and descriptionscan be influenced by their own background”. Although it is important for organisations to provideexpatriates with pre-departure training, there is a lack of evidence as to itseffectiveness.

Puck et al. (2008:2183) note that “while some studies havefound positive influences of pre-departure CCT on expatriate adjustment…other researchers observed no influence, or indeed a negative impact of CCT onadjustment”. We’ll now critically analyse didactic, language, experientialand cognitive behavioural modification training in turn. Similar to withcultural awareness training, organisations should consider extending the belowtraining to partners of expatriates. Didactic Training Didactic training involves sharing information which willimpact the expatriate’s day to day experience, such as information on workingconditions, living conditions and cultural differences (Littrell and Salas,2005:312).

This information is vital in providing expatriates with anunderstanding of what they can expect to help minimize the cultural shock theyexperience. Organisations need to be careful however not to wait until didactictraining to share critical information with the expatriates. For example, ifunmarried couples cannot live together in the assignment location, theexpatriate should be made aware of this early in the process as they may intendon living with their partner outside of marriage. Providing this information tothe expatriates early reduces the risk of expatriates deciding the assignmentis unsuitable for them close to the departure date. Considering the group of male and female expatriates thatwill be taking up an international assignment in hospitality in the MiddleEast, there are significant differences between their home and host locationworking conditions, living conditions and cultural differences, which they shouldbe informed of. Depending on the specific location of their assignment, some ofthe information which may be shared with them may include that when dining,women and men may be asked to dine separately and that alcohol is usually notavailable.

This information would be significant to expatriates working inevents management. Additionally, in relation to dress code, in Saudi Arabiawomen must wear an abayas (full length black robe) when in public places wherethey interact with men. Men also sometimes have to adhere to a dress code.Providing expatriates with such information helps to set their expectations.Konanahalli et al. (2012:46) noted how some of the men in their study”expressed their initial cultural shock when they had to…

adhere to adress code for men”. Didactic training is important as it can also be used toinform expatriates about the legal and political aspects of the region. In theMiddle East, Islam is the majority religion and the legal system in mostcountries is based on Islamic law. Islamic law, or Sharia law, hassignificantly impacted the culture in the Middle East and still to this dayplays a dominant role in the legal system in countries such as Saudi Arabia,Iran and Sudan. Konanahalli et al.

(2012:46) note how prior awareness of thesocial and political situations is “necessary to be able to make accurateanticipatory adjustments and to develop a realistic picture of the hostcountry. Didactic training is absolutely necessary for expatriates.Whether the information be provided to them in an instructor-led class, orone-on-one, it is critical that the expatriate knows what they can expect inadvance of being sent of their assignment. Organisations should be cautiousabout how the information is delivered as it should not cause anxiety frominformation overload. Organisations should also encourage their expatriates todo additional research as didactic training is unlikely to be exhaustive. Language Training Language training helps expatriates to build their foreignlanguage skills and hence facilitates their interactions while on assignment.

The assignment location and role of the expatriate will influence what and howmuch language training is required. Littrell and Salas (2005:311) identifiedthat for expatriates who will be immersed in foreign speaking countries,language training is “crucial for intercultural adjustment”. 

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