Selection Criteria for International Assignments

Making an effective selection decision for an overseas assignment can prove to be a major problem. Typically, this decision is based on international selection criteria, which are factors used to choose international managers. These selections are influenced by the Multinational Corporations experience and often are culturally based. Sometimes as many as a dozen criteria are used, although most Multinational Corporations give serious consideration to only five or six.

Selection Criteria for International Assignments

1. Adaptability to Cultural Change

Overseas managers must be able to adapt to change. They also need a degree of cultural toughness. Research shows that many managers are exhilarated at the beginning of their overseas assignment. After a few months, however, a form of culture shock creeps in, and they begin to encounter frustration and feel confused in their new environment. One analysis noted that many of the most effective international managers suffer this cultural shock.

Organizations examine a number of characteristics to determine whether an individual is sufficiently adaptable. Examples include work experiences with cultures other than one’s own, previous overseas travel, knowledge of foreign languages (fluency generally is not necessary), and recent immigration background or heritage. Others include (1) the ability to integrate with different people, cultures, and types of business organizations; the ability to sense developments in the host country and accurately evaluate them; the ability to solve problems within different frameworks and from different perspectives; (4) sensitivity to the fine print of differences of culture, politics, religion, and ethics, in addition to individual differences; and (5) flexibility in managing operations on a continuous basis despite lack of assistance and gaps in information.

2. Physical and Emotional Health

“Most organizations require that their overseas managers have good physical and emotional health. Some examples are fairly obvious. An employee with a heart condition would be rejected for overseas assignment; likewise, an individual with a nervous disorder would not be considered. The psychological ability of individuals to withstand culture shock also would be considered, as would the current marital status as it affects the individual’s ability to cope in a foreign environment.

3. Age, Experience, and Education

Most Multinational Corporations strive for a balance between age and experience. There is evidence that younger managers are more eager for international assignments. These managers tend to be more “worldly” and have a greater appreciation of other cultures than older managers do. By the same token, young people often are the least developed in management experience and technical skills; they lack real-world experience. To gain the desired balance, many firms send both young and seasoned personnel to the same overseas post.

Many companies consider an academic degree, preferably a graduate degree, to be of critical importance to an international executive; however, universal agreement regarding tie ideal type of degree is nonexistent. MNC’s, of course, use formal education only as a point of departure for their own training and development efforts.

4. Language Training

One recognized weakness of many Multinational Corporations is that they do not give sufficient attention to the importance of language training. English is the primary language of international business, and most expatriates from all countries can converse in English. Those who can speak only are at a distinct disadvantage when doing business in non-English-speaking countries.

5. Motivation for a Foreign Assignment

Although individuals being sent overseas should have a desire to work abroad, this usually is not sufficient motivation. International management experts contend that the candidate also must believe in the importance of the job and even have something of an element of idealism or a sense of mission. Applicants who are unhappy with their current situation at home and are looking to get away seldom make effective overseas managers.

Some experts believe that a desire for adventure or a pioneering spirit is an acceptable reason for wanting to go overseas. Other motivators that often are cited include the desire to increase one’s chances for promotion and the opportunity to improve one’s economic status. For example, many U.S. MNCs regard international experience as being critical for promotion to the upper ranks. In addition, thanks to the supplemental wage and benefit package, U.S. managers sometimes find that they can make, and especially save, more money than if they remained stateside.

6. Spouses and Dependents or Work-Family Issues

Spouses and dependents are another important consideration when a person is to be chosen for an overseas assignment. If the family is not happy, the manager often performs poorly and may either be terminated or simply decide to leave the organization.

One popular approach in appraising the family’s suitability for an overseas assignment is called adaptability screening. This process evaluates how well the family is likely to stand up to the rigors and stress of overseas life. The company will look for a number of things in this screening, including how closely knit the family is, how well it can withstand stress, and how well it can adjust to a new culture and climate.

7. Leadership Ability

The ability to influence people to act in a particular way-leadership-is another important criterion in selecting managers for an international assignment. Determining whether a person who is an effective leader in the home country will be equally effective in an overseas environment can be difficult, however. When determining whether an applicant has the desired leadership ability, many firms look for specific characteristics, such as maturity, emotional stability, the ability to communicate well, independence, initiative, creativity, and good health. If these characteristics are present and the person has been an effective leader in the home country, MNC’s assume that the individual also will do well overseas.

8. Organization-Specific Requirements

The human resource practitioner needs to consider the organisations requirements before selecting a candidate, host country governments can stop the transfer of expatriates. The host government, is the ones that issue the working permits and visas to the expatriates, therefore, the parent country need to prove that there is no available host national country. Legislations and changes of the employee must be addressed; assignments abroad means that the expatriate must move to another country with family to remote or war-torn environments, where living conditions can be challenging. Some host countries do not issue work permits to females, this can make it difficult, for the spouse to adapt. An organisation-specific requirement is implemented during the formation of an independent relationship flanked by computer resources, which includes the evaluation of the comparative precedence between default recommendation and alternative recommendation; and using the highest precedence recommendations to set up a link among the computer resources.

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